The Badger State. America’s Dairyland. The Copper State. Land of Cheese. (Home of the Green Bay Packers!)
Wisconsin is called the Dairy Capital of the U. S. for good reason; in 2012, Wisconsin alone provided 14% of all the milk in the U.S., and 25% of all the cheese. There’s a lot more to the state than that, though. Wisconsin has 26, 767 miles worth of streams and rivers across the state, with all the sports and recreational activities you’d expect. For a while my parents owned an acre lot along the Holcombe Flowage. The water is clean and clear, though a reddish brown from the tannins that leech from trees to river. It’s common to see the Lake Sturgeon jump – though only if your eyes are as quick as your ears! Boaters, jet-skiers and boat-powered tubing are also among the usual sights, and where Mom and Dad’s lot was, the current is strong enough that by pacing myself, I could swim all I wanted and not actually go anywhere!
Other Wisconsin tidbits? The Republican Party was born out of the Whigs on March 20, 1854 in Ripon. In 1882, the world’s first commercial direct current hydroelectric power plant was opened on the Fox River in Appleton. In Watertown in the year 1856, the nation’s first kindergarten was established. And the nickname of “The Badger State” originally referred to lead miners of the 1830s who worked the Galena lead mines in northwestern Illinois, near the borders of Wisconsin and Iowa. The Wisconsin miners lived in temporary caves cut into the hillsides which were described as badger dens, and the folk who lived in them as badgers. The miners brought the nickname back to Wisconsin with them. Over time, the name grew to mean anyone from Wisconsin, and then finally to mean the state itself. The badger wasn’t adopted as the state animal until 1957.
Wisconsin has some famous people who hailed the state as home, too. The architect Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Wisconsin, as were actor Don Ameche, and comedian Chris Farley. When Harry Houdini first came to the U.S., he and his family lived in Appleton. For my gaming buddies – E. Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, lived in the town of Lake Geneva from 1967 until his death in 2008. And we must not forget the original Barbie (Barbara Millicent Roberts, created by Ruth Handler in the late 1950s) grew up in the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin.
Places to go
Green Bay Botanical Garden – Green Bay
**The House on the Rock – Spring Green
**Hamburger Hall of Fame – Seymour
Museum of Woodcarving – Shell Lake
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Stuff to see
**Cable Natural History Museum – Cable
**World’s Tallest Grandfather Clock – Kewaunee
**Rock in the House – Fountain City
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Things to do
EAA Airventure – Oshkosh
Original Wisconsin Ducks – Wisconsin Dells
**Snowmobile Trails – Various counties
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** denotes places and events I have no personal experience with – YET!