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December 2013 Odd Wisconsin

New Year's Revelry, 1840s-style

Milwaukee's New Year's Eve party of 1843 was talked about for decades. About 6,000 people lived in the city then, and hundreds headed to the Milwaukie House hotel for a memorable night of gluttony. A local writer said that "every man who set out to be somebody," accompanied by "ladies in crinoline skirts and tiny bonnets," sat down at long...
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Posted in Curiosities on December 26, 2013

The Great La Crosse Toboggan Run of 1885

Winter has stormed in rudely this year. Here in Madison, our lakes froze over weeks earlier than in years past. And this weekend's forecast calls for fog, rain, sleet, snow, and sub-zero wind chills. So while you recover from shoveling or freezing (or both), here's a story about some hardy guys in La Crosse who made the most out...
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Posted in on December 18, 2013

Daring Swim Saved Regiment

In the summer of 1864, Union armies began a siege around Petersburg, Virginia, that would last nearly a year. They were trying to interrupt supplies to the nearby Confederate capital at Richmond and force the South to surrender. Thousands of Wisconsin men were among the soldiers who spread out around the city. On June 15, 1864, enemy sharpshooters hiding in...
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Posted in Curiosities on December 12, 2013

Muskrat Pie for Christmas Dinner

During the winter of 1811, fur trader Thomas G. Anderson was far from civilization, isolated with five French-Canadian helpers deep in the frozen forest of the northwest. They'd eaten all the migrating waterfowl shot the previous autumn, and their friendly Sioux hunters were all in the field collecting beaver pelts. But that didn't keep the lonely little party from attempting...
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Posted in Animals on December 4, 2013

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