Wisconsin March 01, 2018
This Road Trip Takes You To The Most Fascinating Historical Sites In All Of Wisconsin
With 170 years under its belt, there’s plenty of Wisconsin history to discover and learn about. Sure, we all took field trips to sites like the State Capitol in Madison, but there’s still so much more to see and uncover about hour wonderful home. The best part of this trip is how short it is – maybe it’t no coincidence that this little jaunt is exactly 170 miles that will take you to eight of the most interesting spots in the whole state. Learn about the folks that helped build our state, from early politicians to savvy business-owners to some of our most famous residents. While there’s eight spots on the trip, know that there are tons of awesome and amazing spots you can detour to along the way. Discover the charms of some of our most amazing – and oldest – towns and have a blast learning about Wisconsin on this fascinating historical road trip!
An editable version of this map is available
Please note, H.H. Bennett Studio, Circus World, Pendarvis, Wisconsin First Capitol Historic Site, Stonefield Historic Site, and Villa Louis are temporarily closed.
1. H.H. Bennett Studio - Wisconsin Dells
The building itself is historical, built in 1875 by landscape photographer H.H. Bennett. But his importance to the state is much bigger. Without him, no one might ever have known the vast beauty of the Dells of the Wisconsin River. His stunning photos of the area made it a tourist destination and brought people from all over. His studio here is full of relics of a time gone by and it's a stunning homage to a post-Civil War Wisconsin. Located at 215 Broadway, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965.
2. Circus World - Baraboo
Even though there is no longer a daily circus show in the summer, this is still an amazing place to visit. This museum is home to more than 200 antique circus wagons -- the largest collection in the world. There's also an extensive collection of circus posters, handbills and costumes. The library archives is a compendium of American circus history, starting with materials from the first circus (in Philadelphia, 1793). Once upon a time, Baraboo was the original winter quarters for the Ringling Bros. Circus. The site is a National Historic Landmark. Located at 550 Water St, Baraboo, WI 53913.
3. Taliesin - Spring Green
Native son Frank Lloyd Wright's home is not only an amazing structure on it's own, but it's an homage to all the things he believed in. The stunning compound looks out onto amazing scenery and the outside feels like it comes in.
Located at 5481 County Road C, Spring Green, WI 53588.
4. Pendarvis - Mineral Point
This area was settled by men who came over from Cornwall in England with tin mining experience and worked in the lead mines. There are several cottages and the town has embraced the history. Nibble on pasties and enjoy what has become an artsy town.
Located at 114 Shakerag St, Mineral Point, WI 53565.
5. Wisconsin First Capitol Historic Site - Belmont
These buildings are home to the very foundations of our state. Legislators representing the then-territory of Wisconsin first met in a rented building northwest of Belmont in the fall of 1836. After 46 days, they had passed 42 laws, set up a judicial system and decided Madison would be the government’s permanent home. The laws covered things like building bridges and roads and where to set up courts. It was the only session ever held there, but it was the one that put us on our way to statehood. Located at 19101 County Highway G, Belmont, WI 53510.
6. Stonefield - Cassville
There are 2,000 acres here that originally belonged to the state's first governor, Nelson Dewey. His original house burned down and his life took a turn for the worse, but this estate that sits near the Mississippi River and is surrounded by beautiful bluffs is now a living museum of what a rural Wisconsin village from the turn-of-the-century would have looked like. The State Agricultural Museum is also on this property. Located at 12195 Co Hwy VV, Cassville, WI 53806.
7. Fort Crawford - Prairie du Chien
Open from May through October, this is a former Fort, but also a Medical Museum. Fort Crawford was open from 1816-1856 and the hospital from 1829 through 1935. There's a recreated 1850's doctor's office, a 1900's dentists office, as well as a wide array of implements and displays on frontier medical treatment. Dr. William Beaumont, an army doctor stationed here, studied digestion and made huge scientific advancements on a patient who's stomach wound would not heal. Prairie du Chien is Wisconsin's second-oldest community and there so much to see and do here.
Located at 717 S Beaumont Rd, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821.
8. Villa Louis - Prairie du Chien
Also known as Dousman Mansion, the first house built here by Hercules Dousman was erected in 1843 on located on St. Feriole Island. His son demolished that house and built this intricate and ornate Italianate house in 1871. Using Milwaukee's famous cream-city brick, the mansion has been a part of the state Historical Society since the 1950's. It's a beautifully restored relic of a different time built by one of the most influential men in the early history of Wisconsin. Plan to visit the nearby Fur Trade Museum to get the full story on how this city became so important to the state. Located at 521 N Villa Louis Rd, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821.
Looking to find out more about Wisconsin history? One spot that didn’t make it on this trip are the
amazing Indian ruins at Aztalan.
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