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Are We There Yet?
Sweet Dreams: The Evolution of the Motel in Wisconsin

Since the introduction of the roadside, travelers have needed a place to stop and rest along the route. The earliest travelers on the military road and early trails in Wisconsin had few options. In inhabited areas there may have been a stage inn, and in some areas families opened their residences to the traveling public. In areas that were sparsely populated, one would have to stay along the road in makeshift shelters.

As the population in the state grew and road networks developed in the early 20th century, travelers were provided with more options. Eventually the early stage inns and lodging houses were replaced by automobile camps and cabin courts geared toward the automobile traveler, which in turn were replaced by motels and modern hotel chains.


The Chichester Riverside Cabins were a popular stopping place for vacationing motorists on Highways 52 and 63 on the Yellow River Flowage near Spooner (Washburn County). In 1938 the property had only four cabins. A decade later it had 23 cabins and 36 rooms. The cabin court eventually fell out of favor and was replaced with the motel complex. Such was the case with the Chichester, which is no longer standing. Courtesy of Jim Draeger, personal collection.
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