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Historical Essay

Travel and Tourism

The Invention of a new Pastime

Discover how new technology helped create the tourist industry in Wisconsin in the 19th century

Historical Essay

Stage Coach Sleigh Bells

Wisconsin Historical Museum Object – Feature Story

Sleigh bells used for stage runs and recreational trips in Sauk County, Wisconsin during the 1870s. (Museum object #1967.341.1)

Historical Essay

Bartlett, Tommy (1914-1998)

This Milwaukeean's prolific life in the entertainment business helped transform the Wisconsin Dells into the major tourist destination it is today.

Historical Essay

Lumberjack Saved Union Fleet

3,000 Dam the Red River

Read this wild story about a Wisconsin Dells lumberjack applying his knowledge of dams to help Union forces escape a Confederate attack.

The Prairie du Sac Dam

Read about the conception and inspiration behind the dam that provides electric power to Sauk and Columbia counties. Includes links to photographs.

Historical Essay

Asbestos Baby Bottle Warmer

Wisconsin Historical Museum Object – Feature Story

Automobile baby bottle warmer lined with asbestos, made by the Hankscraft Company, Reedsburg, Wisconsin, c. 1955. (Museum object #1979.316.21)

A Wisconsin Civil War Story

Historical Essay

The Birth of Lake Delton

Learn about the rise of Wisconsin Dells tourism, and read about the creation and collapse of the man-made river it was founded on.

Read about the creation and early success of the famous Ringling Brothers circus founded in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Historical Essay

Shot Tower Lead-Melting Bowl

Wisconsin Historical Museum Object – Feature Story

Lead-melting bowl used at the Wisconsin Shot Company Shot Tower, Helena, Wisconsin, c. 1833. (Museum object #1992.12)

Founder of Sauk City

Read about Agoston Haraszthy, the Hungarian immigrant who founded Sauk City and planted the first hops in Wisconsin.

Read about the life of this influential Wisconsonite and his contributions to the field of architecture. Article includes links to many primary sources.

Wisconsin Historical Museum Object – Feature Story

Landscape view of the Martin Luetscher II farmstead, Honey Creek Township, Wisconsin, c. 1875 (Museum object #2005.182.1)

Read about the desperate 1832 battle near Madison, WI, of the starving Sauk, Fox and Kickapoo Native Americans against the British and the Ho-Chunk.

Wisconsin Historical Museum Object – Feature Story

Eagle feather dance staff used at 1933 World's Fair by Ho-Chunk dancers from the Wisconsin Dells. (Museum object #2001.49.1)

Historical Essay

Wonder Spot "Book" Sign

Wisconsin Historical Museum Object – Feature Story

Wonder Spot "Book" sign that greeted thousands of visitors to the beloved Wonder Spot attraction in the Wisconsin Dells area, c. 1990. (Museum Object #2007

Historical Essay

Schorer, Mark 1908-1977

Novelist, Biographer, Scholar and Teacher

Biography of novelist, biographer, scholar and teacher Mark Schorer.

Wisconsin Historical Museum Object – Feature Story

Duncan Butterfly yo-yo manufactured by the Flambeau Corporation, Baraboo, Wisconsin, 1988-1995. (Museum object #2001.83.13)

A Wisconsin Civil War Story

Read about how a lieutenant outwitted Confederate soldiers after he was captured in the fog near Petersburg, Virginia

Historical Essay

Frank Lloyd Wright Furniture

Wisconsin Historical Museum Object – Feature Story

Chest of drawers with mirror designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for commercial market, c. 1955. (Museum object #1995.2.2.1-2)
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