Welcome to Wisconsin Central!

I take a lot of digital photos around Wisconsin that seem ordinary. When I get back to the office and study them, and research them, quite often, I am totally surprised by how interesting the stories associated with the photos are. I learn a great deal and share that learning with you.

I look for interesting stories that are seldom discussed in other media. This web site is meant to show you the state through my eyes and camera lens --- the people, the land, the culture. I’m high on Wisconsin, and because of states like this, I am high on America and Americans. I’m going to have fun and learn a lot at the same time.

Ed Marek, editor

New sections on Wisconsin Central

My favorite photos, “Land of my dreams” , and
Churches that touched my soul


Blue Mound State Park, highest point in southern Wisconsin


I happened on Blue Mound State Park quite by accident as I was traveling through Iowa County. I was lucky, because I had spectacular weather on a mid-October day and quickly learned I was about to get a spectacular view from this hilltop perch. This is one view of Blue Mound from a park road. She rises to about 450 ft above what is known as Military Ridge. Blue Mound State Park lies right on the eastern border of Iowa County and western border of Dane County. May 15, 2014. Go to story.

Elk Mound - once a Native American lookout


“Elk Mound is one of the highest spots in Dunn County. Native Americans once used it as a look-out. In 1926, Paul Kreck erected a flagpole on the mound. Earl Hansen and Leon Cartwright, owners of farms north of the hill, built the first dirt road up the hill sometime after 1924. In 1934, rural letter carriers of Dunn County planted a tree on the top of the mound, and placed a plaque dedicated to the ‘deceased rural letter carriers of Dunn County.’ Soil taken from every carrier's route was placed around the tree. In 1937, the county, with Works Progress Administration aid, constructed an observation tower (the castle) about 25 feet in height. The stones came from the Downsville stone quarry, with additional stones and material from a dismantled livery stable in the Village. A dedication ceremony was held Friday, November 11, 1938 and a roll call of deceased Dunn County letter carriers was sealed in a granite marker.” April 30, 2014. Go to story.

Glorioso’s Italian Market, Milwaukee


During a recent, and my first, visit to Milwaukee I recalled I was running out of olive oil. Our regular grocery stores here in Wausau do not carry the good stuff in large cans --- I like bulk as I use so much, to cook just about everything. Then I learned about Glorioso’s Italian Market at 1011 East Brady Street. I’m a nut when it comes to a great deli. And this is a great deli. You can tell two things from across the street where you can park: it’s big, and the fragrances coming from it will bowl you over. I was overwhelmed with joy when I walked through the doors. Put me in a place like this and I’m worse than a little kid in a candy store. March 22, 2014. Go to story.

Berlin, delightful, splendid architecture, terrific history


Berlin is a delightful place to visit. Located along the Fox River in Green Lake County, it used to be a center for French fur traders and was long considered a fur and leather capital. It also hosted the first cranberry operations in the state. I was taken by the architecture of much of the town and homes. March 18, 2014. Go to story.

Niagara Escarpment --- all the way from New York to Wisconsin


In the eastern sector of Wisconsin, there are three major escarpments, the result of glacial sculpture and erosion. They are the Magenisan, Trenton and Niagara escarpments. The focus here is the Niagara Escarpment. An escarpment is a long, steep slope, especially at the edge of a plateau or separating acres of land at different heights. The Niagara Escarpment, marked in red, is a landform called a cuesta and it travels from Niagara Falls, New York in a semi circle westward through eastern Wisconsin. It runs predominantly east/west from New York State, through Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. The escarpment is most famous as the cliff over which the Niagara River plunges at Niagara Falls, for which it is named. Go to story. (031714)

Grandfather Falls Hydro: A look at those leaking penstocks


Back in 2006, we visited the Grandfather Falls Recreation Area and hydroelectric facilities north of Merrill in Lincoln County and found them fascinating. We published an article about this area and its facilities, Grandfather Falls, it can be a wild stretch of river. Since then, Mark Lutz of Minneapolis, Minnesota, saw the main article and expressed a great interest in the penstocks, and provided us with some great background. While I was on my visit, I was mystified by the penstocks, especially how they leaked. Lutz has tipped me off to some good information on how these are built and why they leak. This is good stuff. “A look at those leaking penstocks.” Go to added story. (030314)

Nelsonville - 155 strong plus or minus, a neat town, and the Tomorrow River!


I was in Nelsonville recently, which is just north of Amherst in eastern Portage County. I was searching for the Tomorrow RIver, which my kayak guide book said was lots of fun to paddle on because it was so narrow. This is a very small town, in the 2010 census numbering a population of 155. I really enjoyed my short stay in the town.This is the Rising Star Mill. It is one of the oldest in central Wisconsin and the last of its kind in Portage County. Built around 1860, it operated as a business until 1984. It sits right adjacent to the Tomorrow River, and offers a kayak put in point. The “downtown” is small, but t has a couple neat businesses. Go to County Photo Gallery, Portage County. (102413)

Kayak Wisconsin --- Lake Alexander, Merrill


Council Grounds State Park is located just on the western side of Merrill, about 30 miles above Wausau. I had my mind set on going north on the Wisconsin River up to Alexander Lake Access Access 2 so I could weave around the islands up there. Heading north, I generally stuck to the west side and then on the return snuck through a alley in grass cover, as you’ll see, between two islands to get into the channel on the east side of the river, and then back into Lake Alexander which, for reasons I will convey soon, pooped me out so much I had to land at a dock behind a home, hitch a ride to get my car, return and get me and my kayak out of there. Go to story. October 11, 2013

Kayak Wisconsin --- Half Moon Lake, Mosinee


The Mosinee Flowage is a most interesting area for a kayaker. Mosinee is just south of Wausau. This flowage is much larger than I thought. I spent this part of my visit to the area on the western part of Half Moon Lake, north of but part of the Mosinee Flowage, and Wisconsin River system, and “sailed” down a side river which was a dead end but lots of fun. September 16, 2013. Go to story.

Gooch’s A-One Bar & Grill, Boulder


My wife was trying to relive her youth when her family spent much of the summer over near Land O’Lakes and traveled through Boulder Junction. A stop her dad always made was at a place called Shrimp. Her memory of it was a little vague, but she recalled vividly that the interior was decorated with taxidermic animals from the north woods. Well, this was not much of a lead, but I am a great fan of brewskis, and I can sniff out a good place when I’m sniffing. We came across a place called Gooch’s A-1 Bar & Grill on CH M in Boulder Junction. She did not recognize the outside too well, but my sniffer caught a whiff of the place and I knew I had found it. So in we went, and sure enough there it was --- the place once known as Shrimp. I asked the lady in charge if I could take some photos and she was happy to let me do so. September 14, 2013. Go to story.

Manitowish Waters, quiet, peaceful, soft and subdued


The Chamber of Commerce for Manitowish Waters says it is the ideal spot to “get away from it all.” Manitowish Waters is up in western Vilas County deep in the Northwoods, not far from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The Chamber goes on to say, “Manitowish Waters is known for its quiet, less stressful surroundings perfect for a family vacation, reunion, romantic getaway, hunting or fishing excursion, or leisure day trip.” September 2, 2013. Go to story.

Demolition of the Ashland Ore Docks continues, when preservation should top the agenda



Work continues to raise the Ashland Ore Dock. It appears that the demolition crews are encountering one tough structure. These are two aerial photos taken by a friend of the docks this past week, showing you where the demolition stands.

The Canadian National Railroad (CNR) owns the dock and has decided to destroy it because it feels it to be unsafe and is worried about liabilities. The City Fathers of Ashland seem disinterested, insensitive to its historic importance, and, of course, shy of money to repair it and preserve it.

However, there are prominent people favoring its preservation.

National Trust Advisor Emeritus and architect George Haecker, whose family has summered on nearby Madeline Island since 1896, emphatically supports the effort to save the ore dock. “The ore dock is simply Ashland’s iconic heart and soul, and to see it being turned into rubble is devastating.” His firm, having worked on many historic renovation projects, including the homes of former U.S. Presidents Truman, Hoover, Clinton and Nebraska’s State Capitol, Haecker sees many positives of keeping the ore dock saved from the wrecking ball. “I was utterly dismayed last summer to see it being nibbled away at … it could certainly continue to serve as a powerful symbol of Ashland’s proud past.”

Bruce Lunde, Owner at Lunde Williams, LLC, of Madison, Wisconsin, and an acknowledged authority on maritime renovation and design, stated that losing the ore dock would forever change the waterfront landscape in Ashland. “The sad thing about the current state of demolition is that once this structure is gone, it is gone forever. The materials used in the design, the construction techniques used, and the resulting iconic structure can no longer be built the way it was then,” Lunde said. “Maybe since the local populace has been used to seeing it for so long they don’t realize the giant hole this will leave in the local fabric when it is gone. The Greatest of the Great Lakes is losing a valuable jewel and their civic identity.”

Bob Dahl, Chairman of the Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy, wrote to CNR and the Mayor of Ashland to encourage a win-win outcome, stating “we believe that financially and technically feasible alternatives are available.” Expressing what is the prevailing public sentiment, Dahl noted the ore dock is an “important part of the historic fabric of, and future promise for, the Apostle Islands region.”

To offer support or info: Jeff Peters, peters@ceas.coop; (715)-919-0489.

Go to our stories:
Ashland's iron ore docks, a fascinating historyAshland's iron ore docks being destroyedAshland's Historical Museum (051813)

Shullsburg, Wisconsin’s third oldest community


The City of Shullsburg, Lafayette County, dates as Wisconsin’s third oldest community, settled in 1827 largely by Irish prospectors. The community has done a lot to preserve its heritage. It is located in the far southwest of the state, very close to the Illinois border. The Water Street business district is now a National Historic Landmark, the result of careful restoration. While visiting, I thought I had stepped back in time, in a very uplifting way. The city hosts the Badger Mine & Museum, as it was part of a major lead mining effort in the region. April 17, 2013. Go to story.