That snazzy little town, Cambridge, Wisconsin

July 19, 2010

I had spent some time in the Ft. Atkinson area in Jefferson County and was sort of heading back to Wausau on Hwy 12. As usual, I had little idea what was ahead of me. All I knew is that it was a fantastic September day in 2009 and despite the fact I had been gone all day and was getting a little tired driving, it was just one of those days where you wanted to keep on "truckin'."

Pumpkinpatch

The first thing to catch my eye was a good sized pumpkin patch. Being a city boy, this intrigued me, so I stopped and walked around. One of the fun things about Wisconsin is that broadly speaking, you can do that, just walk around, lookin'.

PumpkinpatchA

I've had some experience growing zucchini so the pumpkin plant looked a lot like my zucchini patches. It turns out that both are species of a group of plants known to us as squash. As you can see, the green one is not yet ready, but note how the leaves are starting to dry, and also notice how narrow, really small the vines are. These plants love water, and those vines must get quite a workout delivering the water to the plant. And so, I digress.

Up the way a bit I arrived at a super neat town, Cambridge. Even though I was running behind schedule, I simply had to park the car and walk around a little bit. It's a snazzy place and I commend the people of the town for what they have done to it.

MainStreet

Main Street is classic Wisconsin --- historic and preserved.

MainStreetA

The Chamber of Commerce describes it as having "quaint shops" where you can "chat with local artists, enjoy a nice meal or a great cup of coffee ... a charming village." I agree.

House

As I walked around, I spotted this, a delightful home. The American flag was the first to catch my attention, and then as I looked closer, well, you could fall in love with the place fast.

Oh sure, her fence could probably use a paint job, and maybe there is some other stuff to do, but it reminded me of a country cottage I would see frequently while stationed in England. Note that gazebo off to the right.

HouseA

What a great gazebo. It was a little warm this day, and I easily envisioned myself sitting on those super chairs in the shade with a nice cold brewski!

As I wrote this story, and think back on this visit, I'm listening to Frankie Yankovic sing, "In heaven there is no beer. That's why we drink it here. And when we're gone from here, all our friends will be drinking all our beer!" Oh boy, we'd better get to it, and this gazebo looks like a good place to start.

MainStreetInn

This is the Main Street Inn & Pub. I did not go inside, but the building surely looked neat.

MillonMain

Almost directly across the street is the Mill on Main. I must say this is a marvelous layout.

MillonMainA

A stunning garden...

MillonMainB

...with stream. It was a hot day, I arrived mid-afternoon, so most people were seated inside. I've since looked up her menu and it sure looks fantastic.

The village is actually located in both Dane and Jefferson counties, with a 2000 census population of about 1,100.

The area where Cambridge grew was settled largely by Scottish and Norwegian farmers. She was established in 1847. As with so many Wisconsin towns, she was brought up on saw and grist mills, general stores, a couple hotels, a cabinet shop and the like, all lining Main Street. As was the case in the day throughout the state, much of the town was destroyed by fire in 1890. It is incredible how fires ruined so many things in the state way back then. But the people always seemed to make a comeback, and such was the case for Cambridge, which grew to 700 people by the 1910s.

Today the community is a strong artistic one that has preserved its Victorian storefronts and century old buildings, not yielding entirely to "The Great White Way" of "sameness" that dominates so many communities in the country.