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December 2004 Odd Wisconsin

LaCrosse Toboggan Club, 1885

No ski lifts, polypropylene socks, or Gore-Tex mittens helped people have winter fun in Wisconsin in the 19th century. But when the hearty were feeling hardy, they braved temperatures of 30 below to plunge down a home-made hillside in downtown LaCrosse. See the photo and newspaper story in our collection of Wisconsin Local History & Biography Articles....
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Posted in Curiosities on December 21, 2004

Toads & Flu Season

Feeling under the weather? You might want to try this mid-19th century treatment for "smallpox, the plague, or any eruptive fever." On second thought, you probably can't find the major ingredient at this time of year. For details about the other bizarre medical event mentioned here, see this article from the Milwaukee Journal. Both are from our online collection of...
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Posted in Bizarre Events on December 17, 2004

The Kaukauna Gold Rush of 1900

The desire to get rich quick is an inextinguishable little flame burning in the core of too many human hearts. Whether it's a Top 40 hit, the bubble, Texas oil wells, the California gold rush, or the Great Lakes fur trade, there never seems to be a shortage of people willing to jump on board and try to get...
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Posted in Curiosities on December 10, 2004

The Wisconsin Merchant Prince who Revolutionized Shopping

If you think you're spending too much time shopping this month, maybe you can blame Ripon native Gordon Selfridge. After working his way up through Marshall Fields, in 1909 he opened his own department store on London's Oxford Street, in the very heart of the British Empire at its height. One of the first retailers to appreciate the psychology of...
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Posted in Odd Lives on December 8, 2004

Sex, drugs & rock-n-roll, ca. 1700

Dateline: Mackinaw, Aug. 30, 1702. We sometimes like to think that our own age is unique in its level of moral corruption; but whenever lust and greed have been given free rein, human nature sinks toward its lowest common denominator. In this letter from our new Turning Points in Wisconsin History digital collection, a French priest rails against profiteering, drunkeness,...
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Posted in Curiosities on December 1, 2004

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