Wisconsin’s Second Oldest City

My friends Jim and Cathy Stevens were intrigued by a public television program about Prairie du Chien, so I offered to give them a guided tour. They brought their grandson Caden along and we spent the day enjoying some of Wisconsin’s most beautiful scenery.

Hyde's Mill

Hyde’s Mill

Our first stop was one of the scenic attractions of Iowa County, Hyde’s Mill. Built in 1850, and powered by a wooden water wheel, this property (including the nearby mill house) is actually for sale.

Trumpeter Swans

Trumpeter Swans

Traveling along the Wisconsin Riverway, we spotted a family of trumpeter swans enjoying the beautiful morning.

Mississippi Overlook

Mississippi Overlook

One of my favorite views of the mighty Mississippi River was not quite as dramatic because the fog hadn’t quite burned off yet.

Lock & Dam #9

Lock & Dam #9

It was a little sunnier by the time we arrived at Lock & Dam #9, just south of Lynxville. A tow was going through the locks as we arrived…

Heading south on the mighty river

Heading south on the mighty river

…and soon was heading south with it’s heavy cargo.

Gordon's Bay

Gordon’s Bay

Just south of the Lynxville Dam is one of my favorite spots on the river. Not because of the name, as you might suspect, but because I was baptized in the river at this location by the Rev. Harry Moeller in 1967.

Francois Vertefeuille house

Francois Vertefeuille house

As we drove into Prairie du Chien along Frenchtown Road we passed the historic Francois Vertefeuille house, the oldest house in Wisconsin still on its original location. It was built more than 200 years ago.

Territorial Prison

Territorial Prison artifacts

There are lots of interesting things to see and do in Prairie du Chien. We decided to visit the old Territorial Prison in the basement of the Crawford County Courthouse. The prison was built in the 1840s, when Crawford County took up almost half of what is now the state of Wisconsin. The boot shown on the desk has a thick sole of lead, and was worn by prisoners when they left the prison, to make sure they didn’t escape.

Territorial Prison

Territorial Prison

The prison is also sometimes called The Dungeon. You can see why you wouldn’t want to stay there very long.

 

Donna M. Steiner Clerk of Circuit Court

“Stop in anytime”

Donna Steiner, the Clerk of Circuit Court, graciously gave us the tour and said that they would welcome more visitors. So, if you’re in the neighborhood and want to see The Dungeon, stop by the Clerk of Courts office on the first floor of the old courthouse and ask if someone can give you a tour.

 

The Great Indian Council

The Great Indian Council

In the nearby newly constructed County Administration Building is another historic display, with details on one of the most historic events in Prairie du Chien history, 190 years ago.

 

Pikes Peak State Park

Pikes Peak State Park Overlook

We crossed the Mississippi to grab lunch at the McGregor Marina, then proceeded to Pikes Peak State Park for the scenic viewing. The park was filled with UW-LaCrosse students in their colorful t-shirts.

UW-LaCrosse students

UW-LaCrosse students

The students were resident assistants, on a recreational retreat before the arrival of the rest of the students. Jim Stevens talked with the RA’s from the dorm where he used to live.

The confluence of waters

The confluence of waters

The confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers was a key reason for the historical importance of Prairie du Chien, located near the intersection of what was for many centuries the equivalent of the intersection of interstate highways. We spotted a kayaker on the Wisconsin River, can you see him?

Detour details

Detour details

Construction on Marquette Road (highway 35) made for a confusing confabulation of highway signs along Main Street.

The old homestead

The old homestead

Speaking of Marquette Road, the old homestead still stands, although all of the homes that used to be across the street from us are now gone.

The Cannery

The Cannery

Up the street is The Cannery, now a popular spot for those who enjoy the decorative arts. The parking lot, where we used to play ball, was not very full, because of the construction but we enjoyed the ice cream!

The Passenger Pigeon Monument

The Passenger Pigeon Monument

As we headed back to Madison we made one final stop, at Wyalusing State Park. This is the Passenger Pigeon monument, which laments the extinction of this species which once darkened the skies over Wisconsin. I have been to Pikes Peak and Wyalusing Parks many times, but this was one of the few times I’ve been to both parks in one day, and enjoyed their dramatic vistas of the mighty rivers.

 

 

Advertisements

One comment

  1. Hey Gordon,
    I want to THANK YOU for the guided tour of your ‘neck of the woods.’ It was a physical, as well as spiritual adventure for me. I loved praying over the ‘Father of Waters’ & the ‘Gathering of Waters’ that day. The Father is Gathering His people together for a great harvest of souls! and the confluence of the rivers reminded me of this. I looked up confluence & it said where 2 rivers meet & also a gathering of people! Yes!
    Twas a great trip!
    Blessings,
    Cathy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s