"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
Our last old-fashioned picture was in 2008, also on Broadway but not here. It was at Professor Samuel S. Porter’s Old-Time Portraits.
To treat ourselves for our 19th wedding anniversary that occurred the day before, we arranged to get a tintype picture at the famous H.H. Bennett Studio on Broadway in the Wisconsin Dells. Our Photographer was David Rambow, expert in wet-plate photography since 2001. He is also Site Director for Wisconsin Historic Sites under the umbrella of the Wisconsin State Historical Society. We booked it well in advance at the H.H. Bennett website, deposit is $50. From there you can choose your package and complete your payment during your sitting.
We arrived at 10:30 for our 11 AM sitting, ready to be impressed! I had picked out clothing we had that looked sufficiently “period”, late 1800’s. My lace collar that I wore over my blouse was crocheted by my Grandma Tauchen when they were in style in the 1980’s!
Dave greeted us warmly and invited us to the very studio where Bennett made the Dells famous in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is how the backdrop looks in color.
Behind the chairs are head braces to help you hold still while the picture is taken. This is a long exposure photo. The darker the studio, the longer the exposure. Since it was a bright sunny day, it only took 6 seconds.
Photographer Robert Squires was there too and documented our visit. Thanks for the great photo! He got a picture of Dave installing the prepared wet plate into the camera. It takes 3-minutes to get it camera-ready after exposure to the chemicals. There is no going back once it is preparing!
Dave graciously allowed us to shoot video of getting our photo “struck” so we could show everyone how it’s done! See it below.
We had a great time doing this amazing photo, and they said Al looked like a Civil War vet. We were sent a digital copy ahead of the photo that would be sent in the mail to us.
On August 1st we received our photo in the mail. It was varnished to help protect it from scratches. It was beautiful! On the back was David’s info about the photo.
Also some information on how the photo was made.
I already had a frame to put the photo into that looked good with it.
Don’t pass up your opportunity to get a tintype photo taken by David at THE H.H. Bennett Studio!
In 2017, Chicago came to the Dells in the form of a great new restaurant called River Dawgs, just off Broadway on River Road. We went for the first time on 7-7-18 and had a great meal! We saw their gyro special posted outside the door and couldn’t pass it up.
We went in and it smelled so delicious! Inside is small but not a problem in the summer. Owner Ken Nelson’s only goal is that you leave happy with a great meal that will make you want to come back for more, and we will!
Our lunch was ready in about 10 minutes, yum! The fresh-cut fries were great too.
On another visit, I enjoyed Polish Sausage and Al had a lobster roll, both delicious!
Ken is from Chicago originally. He knew the Dells needed a restaurant with great Chicago tastes, and he filled that niche very nicely, as well as many hungry tummies! View the rest of the menu, we can’t wait to try the many other offerings on future visits!
This event has a proud history, going back 80 years. This used to be a nightly performance at Stand Rock in the Upper Dells until the 1990’s, when it was discontinued. We first heard about this special event when we visited H.H. Bennett Studio in June, they gave us this flyer.
This event ties together all the journeys we experienced this summer. Many of our experiences touched upon Native American events and places. Especially our trip to Lac du Flambeau in July. Now in August, we got to see a performance that has not been done in years for the public. Photos without flash were allowed during the show, no video.
We arrived at the Crystal Grand Music Theatre at around 1:00 to see some of the native crafts for sale and perhaps enjoy some of the food they provided for guests.
The food tent was especially busy, they couldn’t keep the fry bead in stock. Al got one piece of fry bread that we shared. Being a cook has its advantages though, a few days later I learned how to make the Indian tacos at home following this recipe. See result above. It was delicious!
Went inside to see more exhibits and crafts and people. Saw two familiar faces there, H.H. Bennett’s Great-granddaughter Betsy Grant was there, whom we met at the June event. Angela R. Davis was also there, we met her at the State Historical Museum in Madison when we went to visit.
It was now 3:00 and time for the performance after being introduced by Melanie Tallmadge Sainz, Director of the Little Eagle Arts Foundation. Also by Cheryl Boehmke, President of the Friends of H.H.Bennett Studio. She also is a colleague of Ms. Sainz and together they produced this historic program. Thank you!
The show begins, three drummers form the framework and provide the beat for each of the dances performed.
Each of the dances were more exciting than the last, the audience of nearly 500 was mesmerized.
The Sunrise Call of the Zuni was beautiful.
It was sung during the performance.
This is the Eagle Dance.
We also heard a rare recording of Chief Evergreen Tree imitating birds and other animals.
The performance concluded with the performers exiting the stage with the crowd enthusiastically cheering. In the lobby we got to talk to them and take pictures.
You could tell the performers were having as much fun as the audience.
We had a great time and hope it will be repeated. This would be a great tradition to bring back to the Wisconsin Dells, which is far more than water parks.
After our Upper Dells Boat Tour, it was time for the Lower Dells. It begins at the place where we caught the shuttle earlier. We were on the 2:30 tour on the Chief. This tour is about 1/2 hour-long. The Upper Dells tour is just over 2 hours.
Waiting area before coming aboard, we are ready for part 2 of our adventure!
The landing, time to get aboard!
We are on our way, the dam is on our left. It separates the Upper and Lower Dells.
We soon reach the area of the rock formations and this is the first one, Cow in the Milk Bottle. And the whole rock face.
Shortly after this we were shown the last known “rafter’s hook”. A man would drift down the river on a raft of logs to be sold further downstream. He lived on this log raft and when he needed a rest, he would tie up to this hook to keep stationary.
Here are a couple of rafter photos from back then.
Next we saw the Baby Grand Piano rock structure. It sure looks like one! It’s the lower rock on the right.
We didn’t just see great rock structures, we also saw development along the river. This is Rivers Edge Resort.
We come across a Streamflow Gaging Station, used to measure water levels in the river. Nothing unusual so far this year.
Here comes the Sugar Bowl, and we go right between them. Ahead of us is a Jet Boat about to do just that!
Here is Lone Rock, the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) believe a spirit of the Dells live in a cave inside this rock.
We conclude our tour with a look at the Ink Stand. That green growth is called lichen.
We made our way back to shore and thanked the crew, Captain Trent and Kaylee and the other young man for the great tour.
This is classic Dells fun, we hope you get to take both tours when you come here to visit.