Wisconsin Trails Feb 2010 : Page 38

Connecting the Dots WISCONSIN’S 10 TINIEST TOWNS BY AMANDA N.WEGNER PHOTOGRAPHY BY JERRY LUTERMAN I n the 2000U.S. Census, 10 incorporated Wisconsin communities were each home to less than 100 people. Though small, they are integral to the state’s fabric. “To me, America is a masterpiece of pointillism,” says Brad Herzog, award-winning author of two travelmemoirs that focus on small-townAmerica. “Just like those paintings, if you look from afar, the dots blur together to forman image. But if you look closely, each dot tells its own story. In order to truly understandAmerica, I think you have to explore these places – connect those dots.” Ten years later, with another census looming, we check in on the tini- est of Wisconsin’s towns. 1. MASON, POP. 72 [ BAYFIELD COUNTY ] Just 30 minutes from Ashland byHighway 63, this village is a must for rail enthusiasts.Here stands the Mason Depot Museum (County Hwy. E., 715.682.4408), a restored Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Paul& Omaha Railway depot, built around 1883. Exhibits feature information on the railroad, the White River Lumber Company, and pioneer homesteading and family histories.Open May through September. Situated near Chequamegon National Forest and the North Country National Scenic Trail, Penokee Mountain Inn (52635 Snaketrail Road, 715.765.4229, penokee- mountaininn.com) is home base for many activities. Explore area trails and waterfalls, canoe the White River or wander northward to Ashland and Bayfield. Stay in the house or commune with nature in an on-site cabin 2. INGRAM, POP. 76 3.GLEN FLORA,POP. 93 4. CONRATH, POP. 98 [ RUSK COUNTY ] Geographically close, these three communities are brethren in popula- tion and history. Located inWisconsin’s Northwoods, all were in the late 1800s connected to the area’s timber industry and home to numer- ous sawmills and manymore loggers. Tiny Ingram purportedly once had 38 | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010 WISCONSIN TRAILS over 1,400 residents. With the logging days done, the towns are now popular recreation destinations, as are other towns in Rusk County – a paradise for snowmobiling, four-wheeling, fishing and hunting. With three bars, Ingram is a popular gathering point for area residents, hunters and seasonal residents. Located near the Flam- beau River State and Rusk County forests, Ingram offers prime whitetail deer and black bear hunting. Glen Flora is the largest of the three. It’s home to Artisans Factory Outlet (N5750White St , 715.322.4565, artisansinc.com), which attracts thousands of shoppers each year with its selection of clothing, home décor and gifts. It’s also home to Northwoods Rock Rally (northwoodsrockrally.com), a growing music festival held inAugust. On one of the busiest rail lines in the country, train enthusi- asts can catch a peek at the 20-plus trains a day that fly through Conrath from the west coast of Canada to Chicago and East Coast ports, and back.An agricultural center, Conrath has at- tracted a growing Mennonite and Amish population to the area.

Connecting The Dots

Amanda N. Wegner

In the 2000 U.S. Census, 10 incorporated Wisconsin communities were each home to less than 100 people. Though small, they are integral to the state’s fabric. “To me, America is a masterpiece of pointillism,” says Brad Herzog, award-winning author of two travel memoirs that focus on small-town America. “Just like those paintings, if you look from afar, the dots blur together to form an image. But if you look closely, each dot tells its own story. In order to truly understand America, I think you have to explore these places – connect those dots.” Ten years later, with another census looming, we check in on the tiniest of Wisconsin’s towns.<br /> <br /> 1. MASON, POP. 72 [ BAYFIELD COUNTY ]<br /> <br /> Just 30 minutes from Ashland by Highway 63, this village is a must for rail enthusiasts. Here stands the Mason Depot Museum (County Hwy.<br /> <br /> E. , 715.682.4408), a restored Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Paul & Omaha Railway depot, built around 1883. Exhibits feature information on the railroad, the White River Lumber Company, and pioneer homesteading and family histories. Open May through September.<br /> <br /> Situated near Chequamegon National Forest and the North Country National Scenic Trail, Penokee Mountain Inn (52635 Snaketrail Road,<br /> <br /> 715. 765.4229, penokeemountaininn.<br /> <br /> Com) is home base for many activities. Explore area trails and waterfalls, canoe the White River or wander northward to Ashland and Bayfield.<br /> <br /> Stay in the house or commune with nature in an on-site cabin<br /> <br /> 2. INGRAM, POP. 76<br /> <br /> 3. GLEN FLORA,POP. 93<br /> <br /> 4. CONRATH, POP. 98 [ RUSK COUNTY ]<br /> <br /> Geographically close, these three communities are brethren in population and history. Located in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, all were in the late 1800s connected to the area’s timber industry and home to numerous sawmills and many more loggers. Tiny Ingram purportedly once had Over 1,400 residents. With the logging days done, the towns are now popular recreation destinations, as are other towns in Rusk County – a paradise for snowmobiling, four-wheeling, fishing and hunting.<br /> <br /> With three bars, Ingram is a popular gathering point for area residents, hunters and seasonal residents. Located near the Flambeau River State and Rusk County forests, Ingram offers prime whitetail deer and black bear hunting.<br /> <br /> Glen Flora is the largest of the three. It’s home to Artisans Factory Outlet (N5750 White St , 715.322.4565, artisansinc.com), which attracts thousands of shoppers each year with its selection of clothing, home décor and gifts. It’s also home to Northwoods Rock Rally (northwoodsrockrally.com), a growing music festival held in August.<br /> <br /> On one of the busiest rail lines in the country, train enthusiasts can catch a peek at the 20-plus trains a day that fly through Conrath from the west coast of Canada to Chicago and East Coast ports, and back. An agricultural center, Conrath has attracted a growing Mennonite and Amish population to the area.<br /> <br /> 5. BIG FALLS, POP. 85 [ WAUPACA COUNTY ]<br /> <br /> Named for a 30-foot-drop in the nearby Little Wolf River, the village of Big Falls will forever be remembered for its tiny town stature, having been featured in – and making the title of – Dennis Kitchen’s book, Our Smallest Towns: Big Falls, Blue Eye, Bonanza & Beyond. Since the book, which features a foreword by “a Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor, was published in 1995, the town has grown by 10 inhabitants. Once considered by Henry Ford for an auto plant, this former logging town hosts an annual free corn roast (six tons in 2009) the Sunday before Labor Day.<br /> <br /> 6. YUBA, POP. 92 [ RICHLAND COUNTY ]<br /> <br /> With three bars and a feedmill, Yuba is a town in its own right, and local residents are working to rekindle some of the magic of decades past.<br /> <br /> In 2009, local residents started a Saturday farmers’ market, and locals still gather at D & D’s Pub, located in the old Yuba Opera House, the weekend before Ash Wednesday for a community dance.<br /> <br /> 7. MELVINA, POP. 93 [ MONROE COUNTY ]<br /> <br /> Sitting 15 miles south of Sparta, Melvina sports a handful of taverns and mom-and-pop restaurants, but the real draw here are frogs. Each year over the first weekend in August, thousands of visitors descend on the village for Melvina Frog Days. A three-day softball tournament is held in conjunction with the festival, but the highlight is the frog-jumping contest.<br /> <br /> 8. COUDERAY, POP. 96 [ SAWYER COUNTY ]<br /> <br /> Though Al Capone’s Northwoods hideout is now closed, no discussion about Couderay is complete without mention of this gangster.<br /> <br /> Tucked back on County Highway CC, Big Al’s lakefront home, featuring a machine-gun turret among other things, was long a tourist attraction Until it was shuttered in 2009. [The bank that foreclosed on the home in 2008 bought it back October, 2009.] Once a boomtown, Couderay provided services to those who worked in the logging industry. Today, there are no businesses in the sleepy town on Highway 72/12, save for a tavern. The tiny post office – which resembles, and is not much bigger than, the base of a very large fireplace – can accommodate just a handful of customers.<br /> <br /> 9. WOODMAN, POP. 96 [ GRANT COUNTY ]<br /> <br /> Woodman once benefited from trade and traffic as the last stop on the Dinky Railroad System which ran from 1878 to 1926. On the Wisconsin River and not far from the Mississippi, there are plenty of water recreation opportunities in this southwestern corner of the state. If you love horses, the Mahanaim Horsemanship Camp (8701 Sand Rock Road, 608 988.4208) offers day camps, lessons and trail rides. Locals have revived an old tradition, Big Day, held the second-to-last Saturday in August.<br /> <br /> Try your hand at the rolling-pin toss while supporting local causes.<br /> <br /> 10. STOCKHOLM, POP. 97 [ PEPIN COUNTY ]<br /> <br /> Situated on the beautiful bluffs of the Mississippi River, the village was founded in the 1850s by Swedish settlers. As the 20th century wore on, Stockholm steadily lost its main industries: button manufacturing and the harvesting of freshwater mussels and ice. But in the 1970s, the creative class began escorting this tiny village along the road to revival.<br /> <br /> Today, storefronts restored, Stockholm is a thriving arts community, and the population swells with tourists in the summer.<br /> <br /> In 2010, Stockholm presents its 37th-annual art fair, plus seasonal art tours and gallery walks. There’s even a three-day film festival – with shows in Stockholm and nearby Pepin – and the Old Stockholm Opera House has been reinvented as the WideSpot Performing Arts Center and Community Project (N2030 Spring St., 715.307.8941, widespotperformingarts.<br /> <br /> Org), open since last October.<br /> <br /> Other businesses are thriving as well: The Palate Gourmet Kitchen Store (W12102 State Hwy 35, 715-442-6400) has your palate – and cupboard – covered; Ingebretsen’s av Stockholm Scandinavian Gifts, a Swedish “butik” (12092 Hwy 35, 715.442.2220, ingebretsens.com), and Adobe (N2030 #3 Spring Street, 715.442.2266, abodegallery.com) offers unique gifts and interior design. Nearby, Maiden Bluff State Park has spectacular views of the Upper Mississippi River Valley. After a long day of shopping (or hiking), drop by Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery (W12266 King Lane, 715.448.3502, maidenrockwinerycidery.com) to taste a fruit wine or hard cider.

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
 

Loading