Manitowoc, Two Rivers, and the surrounding area is home to some amazing farms, bakeries, cheese factories, breweries, wineries, and even confectioneries that can tickle your taste buds. State Trunk Tour host Eric Paulsen talks with Jason Ring from the Manitowoc/Two Rivers CVB about their new Wisconsin Coastal Food Trail and its destinations. Nearly 20 locations you can connect to via car, bike, or even on foot that delight your palate, mood, mind, and soul – and it’s just beginning. I-43, U.S. 10, U.S. 151, and Highways 42, 147, 310, and numerous county and local roads bring you to all these awesome places. Get all the details in our latest State Trunk Tour Podcast!
Wisconsin has its fair share of oddities, and as we’ve found traveling our state’s highways some of these oddities extend to quirky street names. Hey, it’d be boring if every street was named Main or Elm or First Street… but Reek Road? Chicken in the Woods Drive? Assman Road?? These are just some of the strange, odd, eyebrow-raising, or just plain quirky street names we’ve found in the Badger State.
Chicken In The Woods Road, Three Lakes
Off Highway 32 in Three Lakes. Is it the land response to Chicken of the Sea? How long did that chicken last in the woods? That’s what we’re wondering.
Assman Road, Mishicot
On the north side of Mishicot in Manitowoc County, Assman Road rips one east-west for about four miles. We searched the entire road for a street sign to show you a picture – but apparently the signs keep getting stolen! Guess that’s not a huge surprise, “Assman Road” signs are probably in high demand in dorm rooms across the state. We had to use Google Maps to prove it below (click for a larger look):
How did the name come to be? Perhaps they were inspired by Seinfeld…
29 3/4 Avenue, Washburn County
Counties like Barron, Washburn, Polk, and some others use the Mile Road System and number many of their streets and roads. That’s common across the Midwest. What isn’t common is to use fractions down as far as 1/16ths to name roads within all those square miles – leading to a lot of quirky street names. Even 29 3/4 Avenue, which intersects with U.S. 53 just inside Washburn County near Sarona, was enough to catch our eye. Are there any streets named down to the 1/32nd?? We haven’t seen any, but that doesn’t mean they’re not out there…
Fur Food Road, Stratford
Along Highway 97 north of Marshfield near Stratford, you’ll find Fur Food Road. What the…?
Darn Republican Street, Chetek
According to the Eau Claire Star-Telegram, Darn Republican Street dates back to 1955, when the already-named street was on private property and deeded to the city of Chetek only on the condition the name be retained. And retained it has been; we’re surprised political candidates don’t show up along quirky street names like this more often!
Check out five more quirky street names in Wisconsin below…
Reek Road, Weyauwega
What reeks? Why did this road get that name? Is it near a gassy swamp or a sewage treatment plant? Not that we could tell; it seemed to be a pretty nice area not far from the beautiful Wolf River. Off U.S. 10 and Highway 49 near Weyauwega, just follow your nose…
Crass Road, Tomahawk
We spotted it originally because it has an overpass with the U.S. 51 freeway outside Tomahawk. It’s southern end is where Highway 107 begins at the old U.S. 51 – now County S – just south of Tomahawk. We’re not sure of the origin, people in the area watching us taking pictures of a street sign seemed perfectly polite.
Hooker meets Pleasure, Madison
Hooker Avenue meets Pleasure Drive at Mac Pherson Street in a neighborhood right near Madison’s airport, just blocks northwest of where Highway 30 ends at Highway 113. Hooker and Pleasure coming together? It made us start looking for a “Me So Horny Blvd” nearby, but none was found. The Ale Asylum and Karben4 breweries were nearby though, so we found good places to go and ponder these street names. Note the stickers on each warning of criminal penalties for stealing the signs… something that may or may not have prevented thefts along Assman Road further up.
Where Hooker (left) and Pleasure (right) come together. If a guy stands on the corner, is he automatically called John?
Pigtail Alley, off Highway 33 near Portage
Pigtail Alley isn’t really an alley; and while it winds around a bit, it’s not quite like a pigtail (then again, it meets a Wall Street that isn’t like the Wall Street we hear about.) It starts at Highway 33 just west of the I-90/94 junction near Cascade Mountain and winds through beautiful countryside in view of the Baraboo Range… we just don’t know the history behind the name. We’d like to find out, it definitely one of those quirky street names!
Green Haze Avenue, off Highway 38 in Mt. Pleasant
Green Haze, man. How did a residential street off Highway 38 just outside Racine one of these quirky street names? We’re not sure, although it “green haze” is well known as a strain of a plant, mostly legally available in states like Colorado and Washington. It’s also a song title from comedian Elvis Hitler, who mashed the “Green Acres” TV show lyrics with Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” music to prove they had the same meter. But Green Haze Avenue is a nice, quiet residential street; one would think if that’s what it was named for, at least one late night pizza joint would have opened up along the way.
Did we miss a few? Of course we did! There must be plenty more – help us find them and post your comments and pictures in the “Leave A Reply” box. We’ll pay those roads and streets a visit too and we do our State Trunk Tours around Wisconsin.
Sputnikfest is coming this weekend. Why? Because on September 5, 1962 a piece of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik IV came crashing to earth. One 20-pound chunk came careening down in – of all places – Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
This piece of Sputnik crashed down onto 8th Street in town, right in front of the Rahr-West Art Museum. Two policemen closed the street and stood in front of it, creating an iconic photo for the local paper. Once it cooled, it was taken, examined, and eventually returned to the Russians. Its legacy lives on in Manitowoc with Sputnikfest, an annual celebration of space, spacecraft, and other out-of-this-world. It happens Friday night and Saturday, September 6-7 in Manitowoc. Here are some facts about it and why you should go!
1. The precise spot where a piece of Sputnik landed is marked right on 8th Street – and you can stand there.
Embedded in 8th Street is a metal circle that shows the exact spot where a 20-lb. piece of Sputnik IV crashed. While it’s normally in the midst of traffic lanes, during Sputnikfest this section of road is closed off for the festivities. You can stand in front of the exact spot where it landed out of the blue (and out of the sky) and be glad you weren’t standing there on September 5, 1962 or else you’d have one heck of a headache!
This photo of two Manitowoc police officers in 1962 inspecting the spot where the piece of Sputnik landed is placed right where they stood when the newspaper chronicled the moment. Of course, you can poke your head through for pictures.
2. Sputnik was a test craft; some thought it was manned.
When the Russians launched Sputnik IV (or “Korabl-Sputnik 1” as they called it), they intended it to be a test spacecraft to see if human flight was possible. To that end, they included a mannequin in the original craft, which led some to believe that a cosmonaut was on board. None was, but it certainly led to plenty of speculation back then that Manitowoc may have had a foreign (or even otherworldly) visitor. Some attend Sputnikfest today dressed as cosmonauts, astronauts, or their favorite space action figure. Many hope to win the costume contest, which gets more outlandish every year.
3. Sputnikfest crowns a “Ms. Space Debris” every year.
While the main Sputnikfest activities take place during the day Saturday, a big highlight arrives in the evening when they’ll crown “Ms. Space Debris”, a pageant winner who manages to impress in the categories of a) Space-Age evening attire; b) a display of talent, and c) a brief Q&A period.
The rules don’t even stipulate that Ms. Space Debris needs to be female, but merely a “human life form.” No word of which bathroom they may use. Regardless, Ms. Space Debris reigns over the Fest, presiding over events like the Cosmic Cake Contest, Aluminum Foil Costume Contest, the Alien Pet Competition, and even some things that aren’t contests or competitions. There are a handful of promotional events throughout the year where Ms. Space Debris makes her (or his, or its, whatever) presence known. Judges this year include Manitowoc’s mayor Justin Nickels, broadcaster Craig Dillon, and “OH MY GOSH!” da Manitowoc Minute guy Charlie Berens.
4. Even the organizers call it a “wacky, tacky event”. How can you miss??
Even the promoters like to call events like the Cosmic Cake Contest and the Alien Pet Competition “wacky, tacky events.” The Alien Drop, which features the dropping of tiny alien figures from a cherry picker, allows kids to grab prizes. Go-kart races along 8th Street add a competitive flair, and between live music, outlandish costumery, and dancing space aliens it’s definitely a unique time for all. Plus Manitowoc offers plenty of other great things to visit while you’re there, from the Wisconsin Maritime Museum and the SS Cobia submarine to a nice free city zoo and the host location for Sputnikfest: the lovely Rahr-West Art Museum, which includes a scale replica of the piece of Sputnik that landed here.
5. Sputnikfest draws space fans, engineers, and actual rocket scientists.
While the fun can be wacky, the fact is this was a true piece of spacecraft, still glowing from the heat of re-entry when it landed. With the earth covered mostly be water, any surviving spacecraft pieces falling on land – especially in the middle of a city – becomes a unique event. Fans of spacecraft, satellites, rockets, science, science fiction, and more show up to Sputnikfest every year to marvel at the science and history of it all. Some wacky, tacky fun helps. After all, rocket scientists like to have a good and goofy fun time, too!
You’ll find Sputnikfest taking place just north of downtown Manitowoc primarily along 8th Street (U.S. 10 and Business Highway 42.) U.S. 151 ends about 1/2 mile south of there; the festivities are only about 8-10 minutes in from I-43’s exits to Manitowoc.
The party starts Friday evening September 6th and lasts all day Saturday, September 7th. You can get more details by calling (920) 686-3090 or visiting the Sputnikfest website. Check it out for an otherworldly experience!