As I travel about the state, I come across what I find to be interesting towns. Perhaps not the most well-known, but fun to visit nonetheless. Here are the ones I’ve photographed thus far, with many more to come.
Strolling through Abbotsford, packed with businesses. I take Hwy 29 west out of Wausau quite a bit and always pass by the exit for Abbotsford. One day, in late May, I decided to exit and take a look around to see what’s there. I left Abbotsford thinking, “Wow, they have packed a lot of business, industry and transportation in a fairly small space in this town!” Indeed the town’s motto is, “A small city doing business in a big way.” December 10, 2011.
“Algoma State of mind.” I have to confess right up front that I stole the title for this article from a record on You Tube, “Algoma State of Mind,” by The Crispy Brothers featuring DJ Swagz. That title struck me as right on the mark --- I’ve been to the town a few times and love it. It is a state of mind. There is something about this town that touched my spirit. January 27, 2013
Ashland's Mural Walk. Ashland, Wisconsin's Chamber of Commerce has boasted that it is known as "Lake Superior's Hometown." This is a deserving reflection of pride, and underscores why the towns people have embraced a Murals project so much. These murals create civic pride and are essential to any thriving metropolitan area. Commenting on urban murals in general, Jane Golden, director, Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has said, "It's like they're the autobiography of this city. They have the power to move the soul." October 27, 2007
Briggsville, a neat place to visit. Driving around one day, I ended up in Briggsville in southwest Marquette County, north of Portage in Columbia County. This was a neat place. Briggsville is located in the Central Plains Geographic Province and is on the eastern side of Mason Lake, a lake which crosses to the west into Adams County. It was Sunday, May 24, 2009, people have the day off, and they're out with their families sunbathing and fishing. This is Wisconsin living at its best, families out, walking around, sitting around, and in some cases fishing around. Those two young girls walking to the left both have fishing poles, so this must be a town-wide pastime. November 6, 2009
Brokaw, once a "company town," now just a neat little village hosting Wausau Paper. The town of Brokaw, Marathon County, Wisconsin is just a few miles upstream the Wisconsin River from Wausau. In the 2000 census its population was listed at 107. Many people likely drive right through Brokaw without giving it much attention, though the Wausau Paper Mill is huge and cannot be missed. As happens so often, once we started digging into Brokaw we learned some neat history about the state. A man named Norman Brokaw was born in Michigan, and graduated from Kalamazoo college and Three Rivers Law School there. He practiced law for about a year and decided to get involved in one of his favorite industries, making paper. May 10, 2010.
That snazzy little town, Cambridge, Wisconsin. I had spent some time in the Ft. Atkinson area in Jefferson County and was sort of heading back to Wausau on Hwy 12. 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. Main Street is classic Wisconsin --- historic and preserved. July 19, 2010.
That quaint little town, Delafield, Wisconsin. We stayed in Delafield on our first visit to the Waukesha County. Historic Delafield was established in 1837. Much of it looks newly built, but in the historic tradition, with a Williamsburg style downtown. It is truly a charming place to visit, lots of shops, restaurants, and places for outdoor activities. My guess is that much of the renovation and new building here occurred in the 1990s. These photos will show you around the downtown area, starting with the Delafield Hotel, where we stayed, first class in our book. If you like relaxation and first-rate shopping and browsing, this is the pace for you. June 23, 2012
De Pere, Wisconsin, a neat college and river town. I had never approached Green Bay from the south, so when I rolled into De Pere, just miles south of Green Bay, frankly I was shocked, pleasantly so. Three highlights stuck with me: its location on the Fox River just before it empties into Green Bay; St. Norbert’s College, a magnificent campus; and the historic district, with its wonderful old homes. We’ll walk through each. November 23, 2012
Elkhart Lake, one each buzzing’ town. The town of Elkhart Lake, Sheboygan County, boasts that it is “a legendary getaway.” I had received some ads by e-mail about the Osthoff Lake Resort in the town. I did some research, we needed to get away, so off we went. The town and the Osthoff are buzzing’ places, with lots of activities always underway somewhere nearby. While at the Osthoff, they had a triathlon, in nearly 90 degree weather. Incredible. Elkhart Lake is in the Kettle Moraine State Forest. The Osthoff claims to be “elegant, yet comfortable.” It sure is big and beautifully sited on Elkhart Lake. The town is as fantastic. July 1, 2012
Fond du Lac, at the foot of Lake Winnebago. Fond du Lac is French for “booth or foot of the lake.” The lake is Lake Winnebago. The city sits at the southern end of it. Winnebago is the largest lake entirely in Wisconsin and one of the largest inland lakes in the US. It is 30 by 10 miles. Two things struck me when I drove through. First, the wonderful old buildings that the city is working to preserve, many along Main Street. I am a huge fan of that. Second, Lakeside Park. The city looks like a great place to stop and explore in more detail. July 17, 2012
Galesville, quite the historic town preserved. Galesville is located about 20 miles north of La Crosse, Wisconsin, in the Coulee Region of the Mississippi Valley, in Trempealeau County near the Mississippi River. The city sits in the Western Uplands Geographic Province, among rolling hills, towering cliffs, forests and spring-fed streams. Downtown, Ridge Avenue and the Gale College Historic Districts are all on the National Register of Historic Places. The townspeople have worked very hard to preserve this town, and it is uplifting to visit. April 7, 2012
Genesee, in the Kettle moraine, once a boom town. Genesee Township is located near the center of Waukesha County (between Waukesha & Ottawa) in the beautiful “Kettle Moraine” area of southeast Wisconsin. The entire area was formed 10,000 years ago by the glaciers. Genesee Depot was settled predominantly by the English, Irish & Welsh and became a thriving settlement when the Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad laid tracks through the area in 1851. It became a thriving agricultural service center. The town to this day retains its old charm. June 27, 2012
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.”
New Glarus, a "Little Switzerland" in southern Wisconsin. I am not usually a fan of "theme cities," but I am a fan of this one, New Glarus, Wisconsin. Settled in the mid-19th century by 108 Swiss immigrants from canton Glarus, Switzerland, these pioneers built their town to where it is a fun and relaxing place to visit, a town that brings back great memories of my many visits to Switzerland. Perhaps what I like the most are the many small businesses here hosted in old buildings that have retained their magnificent historic character. I'll give you a tour of the town and focus your attention on some of these businesses. October 3, 2008
Oconomowoc, on Lac la Belle. Oconomowoc, in Waukesha County, is roughly half-way between Milwaukee and Madison, near I-94. It was incorporated in 1865 and rapidly became a haven for tourists from Chicago and Milwaukee. At one time it was known as the “Newport of the West.” The citizens have done much to preserve her beauty and legacy. It is nestled between four wonderful lakes, Lac la Belle, on which it sits, Fowler Lake right next to it, a small lake, Lake Oconomowoc just a tad to the southeast, and Lake Okauchee just a tad to the east. Actually, the town is in the midst of quite a few lakes here in southeastern Wisconsin. July 5, 2012
Sheboygan, “Spirit on the lake.” You can’t call Sheboygan a town. It’s a city, about 50,000 strong, located on Lake Michigan, about 55 miles north of Milwaukee, and 65 miles south of Green Bay. The city boasts, “Our beaches are brighter. Our fish are bigger. Our golf is better. Our food is the best! And it’s fun to say our name. Try it…go ahead…She-boy-gan. How do you Sheboygan? We surf, kite surf, wind surf, sail, kayak, jet ski, boat, fish, bike, hike, climb, race, golf, eat, drink, dance, relax, spa, enjoy. And we fry brats! We are the Bratwurst Capital of the World, after all.” December 2, 2012
Sheboygan, “Ready to welcome you since 1837.” Sheboygan Falls is inland, west of Sheboygan, “The Spirit on the Lake,” on he Sheboygan River. The River rises in eastern Fond du Lac County, and runs through Sheboygan, Calumet and Manitwoc Counties before returning to Sheboygan County and flowing to Lake Michigan. The town sees itself as a “Wisconsin Main Street” community, dedicated to the preservation of its historic structures. That is what caught my attention when I visited. Some 40 buildings have been rehabilitated and restored to the original late 1800s architecture. I photographed some of them. February 25, 2013
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.
Soldiers Grove, an American's kind of town. This is a town of about 700, rolling landscapes of unglaciated hills, situated along the "mighty" Kickapoo River and Baker Creek. It is also the site of a magnificent Veterans Memorial and a park honoring Medal of Honor recipient Beauford T. "Andy" Anderson, who nearly single-handedly took down 25 enemy soldiers on Kakazu Ridge, Okinawa, and saved his company's flank through good old fashioned GI ingenuity and the help of a fellow comrade, Hans Kaufmann, who fed him their improvised "ammo." Celebrating Andy's achievements one year caused one local poet's wife to weep and him to swallow hard. America at it's very best in Soldiers Grove. March 8, 2006