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Travel and Tourism

In the mid-nineteenth century, traveling for recreation became increasingly popular in the United States. Advancements in transportation, especially railroads and steamships, coupled with romantic conceptions of the nation's landscape helped encourage the growth of domestic tourism. People who would have earlier balked at the inconvenience of traveling began to take journeys for spiritual renewal, physical regeneration, freedom from social constraints, or simply to "see the sights." By the middle of the century, many enterprising Americans were ready to serve the needs of this new class called tourists.

As industrialization and urbanization transformed American life, many middle and upper class Americans... more...

Original Documents and Other Primary Sources

Link to article: A trip to Wisconsin Dells in 1879  A trip to Wisconsin Dells in 1879
Link to article: From sport to relaxation in Northern Wisconsin resorts, 1926  From sport to relaxation in Northern Wisconsin resorts, 1926
Link to article: Door County in 1942: land of "sunshine, fruit, and water"  Door County in 1942: land of "sunshine, fruit, and water"
Link to article: La Crosse's first motor-bike, 1900  La Crosse's first motor-bike, 1900
Link to article: A survey of past and present hotels in Wisconsin, 1898  A survey of past and present hotels in Wisconsin, 1898
Link to article: A trip through the Dells in 1849  A trip through the Dells in 1849
Link to artifacts: An Aqualand water ski used for slalom skiing  An Aqualand water ski used for slalom skiing
Link to book: The Pneumatic, a progressive monthly paper for cyclists  The Pneumatic, a progressive monthly paper for cyclists
Link to book: A 1910 automobile travel guide to Wisconsin  A 1910 automobile travel guide to Wisconsin
Link to book: A travel guide to healthful resorts in the upper Midwest, 1875  A travel guide to healthful resorts in the upper Midwest, 1875
Link to book: Official guidebook for the Wisconsin Centennial Exposition, 1948  Official guidebook for the Wisconsin Centennial Exposition, 1948
Link to book: Stories from Wisconsin's circuses, 1850-1908  Stories from Wisconsin's circuses, 1850-1908
Link to book: A tourist booklet from Wisconsin Dells, ca. 1930  A tourist booklet from Wisconsin Dells, ca. 1930
Link to book: Fly-fishing in the Northwoods, 1875-1877.  Fly-fishing in the Northwoods, 1875-1877.
Link to book: An illustrated guide for tourists to Wisconsin Dells, 1875  An illustrated guide for tourists to Wisconsin Dells, 1875
Link to book: A fisherman's guide to Northern Wisconsin  A fisherman's guide to Northern Wisconsin
Link to book: A Dells Tourist Brochure, 1932  A Dells Tourist Brochure, 1932
Link to book: A Tourist Brochure for Shawano and the Menominee Indian Reservation, ca. 1925  A Tourist Brochure for Shawano and the Menominee Indian Reservation, ca. 1925
Link to book: John Nolen drafts a plan for a state park system in 1909  John Nolen drafts a plan for a state park system in 1909
Link to book: A folding brochure for a Wisconsin Dells resort, ca. 1930  A folding brochure for a Wisconsin Dells resort, ca. 1930
Link to book: A 1923 brochure for Ross's Teal Lake Lodge near Hayward  A 1923 brochure for Ross's Teal Lake Lodge near Hayward
Link to book: A Tourist Brochure for Marinette Co., ca. 1923  A Tourist Brochure for Marinette Co., ca. 1923
Link to collections: Promotional material created for the 1948 Wisconsin Centennial Exposition  Promotional material created for the 1948 Wisconsin Centennial Exposition
Link to images: Increase Lapham examining a meteorite, ca. 1868  Increase Lapham examining a meteorite, ca. 1868
Link to images: Pictures of tourist hotels and activities, 1885-1939  Pictures of tourist hotels and activities, 1885-1939
Link to images: Photographs of the Starlite Drive-in in Green Bay, 1959  Photographs of the Starlite Drive-in in Green Bay, 1959
Link to images: Tourist Views of La Crosse, ca. 1892  Tourist Views of La Crosse, ca. 1892
Link to images: Images of the circus in Wisconsin  Images of the circus in Wisconsin
Link to images: The photographs of H.H. Bennett  The photographs of H.H. Bennett
Link to manuscript: Final reports of the Wisconsin Centennial Exposition organizing committees, 1948  Final reports of the Wisconsin Centennial Exposition organizing committees, 1948
Link to manuscript: Four Madison Teenagers Paddle the Wisconsin, Mississippi and Rock Rivers  Four Madison Teenagers Paddle the Wisconsin, Mississippi and Rock Rivers
Link to places: Indianapolis Outing Club in Oneida County  Indianapolis Outing Club in Oneida County
Link to places: Union House Hotel in De Pere  Union House Hotel in De Pere
Link to places: H.H. Bennett's studio in Wisconsin Dells  H.H. Bennett's studio in Wisconsin Dells
Link to places: Forest Lodge in Namekagon  Forest Lodge in Namekagon
Link to places: Winter quarters for the Ringling Brothers Circus  Winter quarters for the Ringling Brothers Circus
Link to places: Eagle River Stadium, Wisconsin's hockey capitol  Eagle River Stadium, Wisconsin's hockey capitol

Primary Sources Available Elsewhere

Link to book: Resorts along the Upper Mississippi River, ca. 1890  Resorts along the Upper Mississippi River, ca. 1890
Link to book: Wisconsin Blue Books  Wisconsin Blue Books
Link to images: The imaginary landcapes of Wisconsin Dells tourist attractions  The imaginary landcapes of Wisconsin Dells tourist attractions
Link to images: Postcards from the "miracle" springs in Waukesha  Postcards from the "miracle" springs in Waukesha
Link to images: Automobiles transform the Wisconsin Dells  Automobiles transform the Wisconsin Dells
Link to images: A bird's-eye-view of lakes and resorts in Waukesha County, ca. 1890  A bird's-eye-view of lakes and resorts in Waukesha County, ca. 1890
Link to images: Transforming the natural world for tourism in the Dells  Transforming the natural world for tourism in the Dells
Link to images: Historic postcards of Milwaukee  Historic postcards of Milwaukee
Link to images: Images of Lake Geneva, the "Newport of the West"  Images of Lake Geneva, the "Newport of the West"
Link to manuscript: Notes on Bent's Camp, in Vilas County, 1906.  Notes on Bent's Camp, in Vilas County, 1906.

Related Links

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Learn about other topics from our new book, Wisconsin History Highlights
Watch a video clip about an African American resort area
Read more about the history of bicycling in Wisconsin from the DOT
Take a driving tour of the Dells/Baraboo region

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