World's Largest Carousel at House on the Rock

World’s Largest Carousel

Inside the legendary House on the Rock along Highway 23 south of Spring Green, Wisconsin, you’ll find the World’s Largest Carousel. This amazing, dizzying display of lights, animals, figurines and more sits inside one of the House on the Rock buildings.

This carousel, replete with music similar to the tunes emanating from so many other instruments in this dazzling attraction, features over 20,000 lights; 182 chandeliers; and 269 animals – ironically, not one of them is a horse. Making its debut in 1981, the World’s Largest Carousel measures 80 feet in diameter, is 35 feet high, and weights 36 tons!

No, you can’t ride it.

World’s Largest Carousel Address:

Inside House on the Rock
5754 Wisconsin Highway 23
Spring Green, WI 53588
(608) 935-3639

Carlin House, Palmyra

Carlin House and Turner Museum

The Carlin Museum, Palmyra

Palmyra’s historic Carlin House and Turner Museum showcases unique construction methods and authentic furnishings for a 19th century home. The Carlin House was built by laying courses of a kind of cement on top of one another, termed as a “grout house.”

The Fisk Carlin House is furnished with mostly 19th century antiques, some of which are original to the house and the historical integrity of the floors, wallpaper, lights, and furnishings have been well appointed. The house can be toured at your leisure, but it is best explored with the assistance of a docent, who is always available during museum hours and by appointment.

If you visit on your own, here are some of the items you might see while exploring the Fisk Carlin House:

Carlin House kitchen in Palmyra

The Carlin House dining room.

First Floor:

ENTRANCE (from the Turner Museum), a wide variety of farm and household items, two men playing a friendly game of cards.
KITCHEN, complete with stove, pump, boiler, utensils, and homemade jam being conspicuously consumed by a young child.
DINING ROOM, fine china, cabinetry, articles from the Carlin and other Palmyra families.
MUSIC ROOM, not originally for music but containing an Edison cylinder phonograph, carved wooden organ, restored coal stove from a local barbershop, many other antiques.
PARLOR (living room), original or near-original furnishings, Carlin and Turner family photos, “paper punch” embroidery, tiny mittens knitted with toothpicks, “stereoscope” for viewing photographs in 3-D.

Second Floor:

BEDROOM, rope net bed supporting a “tic” mattress, many other antiques.
CHILDRENS’ ROOM, dolls, books, cradles, family bathtub.
SMALL ROOM, opening in inside wall shows grout construction of the house.
SEWING ROOM, early sewing machines, shoes, women’s clothing on mannequins and in closets, chests, cabinets, jewelry boxes, etc.

The adjacent Turner Museum offers a variety of local art and a permanent exhibit called “Palmyra: Then and Now.” Get the latest updates on the Turner Museum here.

The Carlin House & Turner Museum are open Saturdays 10am-2pm May into October and by appointment. You can call 262-495-2412 for details.

You’ll find the Carlin House & Turner Museum in downtown Palmyra, right along Highway 59 just past the eastern terminus of Highway 106. Palmyra is in far southeastern Jefferson County along the Scuppernong River nestled next to the Southern Unit of Kettle Moraine.

Carlin House & Turner Museum Address:

112 N. 3rd Street (Highway 59)
Palmyra, WI 53156
(262) 495-2412

Snowflake Ski Jump in summer

Snowflake Ski Jump Complex

Perched above Timber Coulee just north of Westby in Vernon County, the Snowflake Ski Jump – used for national and international competitions – is the highest of five jumps used by skiing enthusiasts and draws competitors from all over the world each winter. It is considered a “large hill,” meaning it has a K-spot (a hill’s steepest point) of at least 106 meters. The jump rises 118-meters/387 feet high, qualifying it for Olympic trials. It is the seventh largest such ski jump in North America. It was constructed in 1960, and the first ski jumping tournament took place in 1961. Tournaments have been held every year since. Currently, the record is held by Fredrik Bjerkeengen of Norway, who jumped 130 meters on February 10, 2008.

Snowflake Ski Jump during competition

The Large Hill Meet is held early each year in February and attracts not only U.S. ski jumpers but competitors from around the world. The four smaller hills at the site include a 65 meter hill, as well as smaller 40, 20, and 10 meter hills for training junior jumpers. Many Olympic and world-class ski jumpers have competed at the complex; their annual events draw thousands of spectators each year.

The Snowflake Ski Jump is high enough to catch your eye a few miles away on Highway 27 as you drive north of Westby. Here’s an example:

Snowflake Ski Jump from County P, a few miles away

This is the Snowflake Ski Jump from County P, about two miles from Highway 27. And yes, on a clear day, it towers above the horizon from the highway, too.

Snowflake Ski Club members donate many hours preparing and grooming the hills, making use of snowmaking and grooming equipment to keep the hills in good condition regardless of natural snowfall. During the summer, you can check out Snowflake for golf and more. They also host numerous events throughout the year.

Snowflake Ski Jump verticalSnowflake Ski Jump Address:

Snowflake Ski & Golf Course
E7940 County Road P (off Highway 27)
Westby, WI 54667
(608) 634-3211

To reach Snowflake from Westby or Sparta: follow County P west from Highway 27. Highway P winds around for several miles before you reach the Snowflake Ski Club & Golf Course. The intersection is just a few miles north of Westby, off U.S. 14/61.

To reach Snowflake from Norskedalen: follow County P east from County PI about five miles.


Chatty Belle, the World's Largest Talking Cow

Chatty Belle, the World’s Largest Talking Cow

Chatty Belle, the World's Largest Talking CowIf you’re going to chat with a cow, why not pick one who chats back? Chatty Belle, the World’s Largest Talking Cow, is ready to converse with you in Neillsville. Chatty is a big Belle, standing 16 feet tall and 20 feet long; she’s about seven times largest than the average Holstein cow. But then again, the average Holstein doesn’t talk.

Chatty was for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City and was installed in Neillsville, the seat of Clark County, afterward. She given her name by a 1st grader who hailed from nearby Loyal in 1966 – the prize for the little girl’s naming skills was 100 pounds of butter and a trip through the Grassland Dairy Cheese Factory.

So with Chatty’s size, how productive would she be if she were real vs. a fiberglass Holstein? James Crowley, a former Extension Dairyman at the University of Wisconsin, ran the numbers and calculated that Chatty would produce 270 pounds of milk per day – that’s 83,000 pounds per year. She’s also consumer 11 tons of grain, equivalent to 24.5 tons of silage, per year. That’s 24.5 tons of silage for 41.5 tons of milk, if you like figuring the ratios.

Chatty was originally branded as the world’s largest cow, but there was a larger one elsewhere. So a coin-operated voice box was added, allowing her to keep the title of “World’s Largest Talking Cow.” Chatty’s conversational abilities lean toward touting Wisconsin’s dairy products (shocker) but her voice box has been off-and-on in operation lately, so we can’t guarantee she’ll be in a talkative mood when you see her.

Neillsville's WCCN Station and WI World's Fair Pavilion BuildingNext door is the building used for the Wisconsin Pavilion in the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City; its design is very 60s/Jetsons/retro-but-futuristic. This cool structure now houses WCCN-AM/FM & WPKG-FM radio, along with a gift shop that sells post cards and cheese. The broadcast-style tower atop the building, with “Wisconsin” spelled out in vertical lettering, drew plenty of attention at the World’s Fair.

Chatty sits right along U.S. 10 just east of downtown Neillsville. Highway 73 comes within a few blocks to the west; Highway 95 approaches Neillsville from the south and is also a good access point.

Address for Chatty Belle, the World’s Largest Talking Cow:

1201 E. Division Street (U.S. 10)
Neillsville, WI 54456
(715) 743-2222
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Ten Chimneys Estate, Genesee Depot

Ten Chimneys National Historic Landmark

Ten Chimneys logoStarts of stage and screen frequented Ten Chimneys Estate , a National Historic Landmark that was home to Broadway greats Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. The iconic couple, who married in 1922, appeared together in over 24 plays and, more recently, on a postage stamp. The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on West 46th Street in New York City is – of course – named for them, an indication of their prowess on the big stage.

Tours of Ten Chimneys are available from May through mid-November of the grounds and the house. Furnishings, hand-painted murals, décor, art collections and other memorabilia are everywhere, and yes, the house does have 10 chimneys. Even the Gift Shop is unique: from early 20th century hat styles to jewelry to Noël Coward quotes adorning black t-shirts, there’s plenty of interesting things to check out.


The main house at Ten Chimneys. All ten chimneys are but a fraction of the architectural splendor both inside the house and on the surrounding grounds.


The dining room, for example, where elegance, beauty and attention to detail combined with what must have been some incredibly good meals.

Guests to Ten Chimneys over the years the Lunts lived there included Katharine Hepburn, W.C. Fields, and most infamously Noël Coward, probably the Lunt’s most frequent Ten Chimneys guest. Coward was known for many things, including some of the most famous plays ever written. Today the theatre in Westminster, London where he first performed in 1920 is named the Noël Coward Theatre, which was named in his honor in 2006. He acted in many plays and also performed intelligence work for the British Secret Service during World War II (in fact, he was approached by neighbor Ian Fleming in the 1960s to play the villan’s role in Dr. No, which he turned down… with the phrase “Dr. No? No. No. No.”) Meanwhile on the Ten Chimney grounds, he was known for walking through the house in the buff on his way to go for a swim because he liked to skinny dip in the pool, causing at least one cook to quit. Others presumably stared or did double-takes at various times.


Part of Ten Chimneys’ Museum Store and reception area includes a variety of things to see, including a stage to check out, backstage samples, a Dick Cavett video interview of the couple from 1970, furniture and more; the stage is above. And of the many things available at Ten Chimneys, you can buy specialty shot glasses with “the great drinkers” like Yeats, Wilde, Thomas and Fields. Just don’t use them while State Trunk Touring, okay??

genesee_10chimneys01You’ll find Ten Chimneys (and tell them you’re doing a State Trunk Tour!) on Highway 83 in Genesee Depot in southwestern Waukesha County, about 10 miles south of I-94 and 10 miles north of I-43. Tours of Ten Chimneys are a must, and reservations a day or more in advance is strongly recommended. They also have numerous events and dinners to check out.

Ten Chimneys Estate Address:

S43W31575 Depot Road
Genesee Depot, WI 53127
(262) 968-4110

Fort Winnebago

Fort Winnebago Surgeon’s Quarters Historic Site

Fort Winnebago was constructed at the portage between the strategically important Fox and Wisconsin Rivers at the city of Portage in Columbia County. It was one of three forts built to protect settlers and commerce along the crucial Fox-Wisconsin Waterway; the other two were Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien at the Mississippi River and Fort Howard at Green Bay, making Fort Winnebago is only of these three built in the state’s interior.

Fort Winnebago Surgeon’s Quarters was built in 1824 as a trading post and is the only remaining building from the fort itself, which was deactivated in 1845. U.S. Army surgeons used the building for their quarters, hence the name. Next door, the Garrison School is a 19th century one-room schoolhouse built around 1850. It originally stood nearby on the corner of Garrison Road and the Military Road; it remained an active school building until 1960 and was moved to the Fort Winnebago site shortly thereafter. It has many interesting period artifacts and continues to be set up as a schoolroom.

The building is one of the oldest French Colonial log structures in the state; it’s owned, operated, and maintained by the Wisconsin Society Daughters of the American Revolution and is furnished with many 19th century period pieces throughout.

Fort Winnebago and Garrison School

Tours are available during the warmer months; they last for 90 minutes and are popular for school and senior tours. You can check it out during the season, which runs generally from mid-May through in season. Kayak, canoe, and bike tour groups can also schedule rest stops or overnights, where camping is available. The Heritage Gift Shop, located in a building dating back to 1858, will happily sell you crafts and articles related to this historic site.

You’ll find Fort Winnebago Surgeon’s Quarters Historic Site right along Highway 33 between the Fox River and Portage Canal crossings on the eastern end of the city of Portage. U.S. 51 and Highway 16 are about one mile to the west; I-39 and Highway 127 are about three miles to the west, and Highway 78 ends about four miles south, where I-90/94 runs. all of these highways bring you close.

Fort Winnebago entrance on Highway 33

Adults $7.50
Seniors (age 65+) $6.00
Children 6-18  $3.00
Children under 5 FREE
Families (2 adults and 2 children) $18.00
Students with School ID (18-25) $3.00
School tours children and chaperones each $3.00
Military: Active, Retired, Disabled with ID Free

1824 E. Wisconsin Highway 33
Portage, WI 53901
(608) 742-2949

Wind Point Lighthouse Tour

Wind Point Lighthouse

Wind Point Lighthouse rises 108 feet.Wind Point Lighthouse is one the tallest and oldest lighthouses on the Great Lakes. It reaches 108 feet above the wavy waters of Lake Michigan, helping ships navigate the coast since 1880. The original fog house, walkways to the water, and parkland surrounding the lighthouse itself are all accessible year ’round.

Tours of the lighthouse itself are available the first Sunday of the month from June through October on the half-hour from 9am to 3pm. Admission is $10 for adults and kids 12 and up; kids 6-11 are $5; children under 6 are not allowed to climb the lighthouse due to safety concerns.

The Wind Point Lighthouse is accessible via Lighthouse Road or 3 Mile Road, just east of Highway 32 north of Racine. You can also connect nearby from Highways 31 and 38.

Wind Point Lighthouse history

A Capstar, one of many items on the Wind Point Lighthouse grounds.


Check out their Video Tour!

Fun facts, courtesy of

  • Orlando Metcalfe Poe designed the lighthouse. He served in the Civil War as a Brigadier General.
  • The Lighthouse’s first lighting occurred on November 15, 1880.
  • The Fog Horn Building shows the original design with the huge fog horns aimed toward the Lake.
  • The fog signals traveled 10 miles out into Lake Michigan.
  • The Fresnel Lens used dozens of glass prisms to bend and focus the light which made for an immensely powerful light. The original lens is on loan from the Racine Heritage Museum. You can see it in the old Coast Guard Keepers Quarters, which now serves as the Village Hall for the Village of Wind Point.
  • A mechanism of weights, cables and pulleys rotated the enormous Fresnel Lens to create the flashing that navigators on the Lake recognized.
  • Fuel for the light had to be carried up the 144 iron steps and the Keeper or his Assistants had to make that climb daily. About 270 gallons were used in 1881.
  • The Keeper or his Assistants had to clean the Lens every day so that it sparkled.
  • 7 Head Keepers and more than 30 Assistant Keepers worked the Wind Point Lighthouse from 1880 – 1964 when the light was automated.
  • In 1997, the U.S. Coast Guard transferred the Lighthouse to the Village of Wind Point, though they continue responsibility of the light itself.

Wind Point Lighthouse Address:

4725 Lighthouse Drive
Wind Point, WI 53402
(262) 639-3777

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US Bank Tower, Milwaukee

US Bank Tower, Milwaukee

The US Bank Tower has been Wisconsin’s tallest building since 1973. Once Milwaukee’s tallest by far for decades, several newer 30 story-plus buildings give it some company and created a fuller skyline that the US Bank Tower highlights rather than dominates.

The US Bank Tower rises 42 stories; it is 601 feet from street level to the roof.  The cross-bracing horizontal rows at floors 2-3, 16-17 and 41-42 give the building its distinctive look. Constructed from 1971-1973, it’s still the tallest office tower between St. Paul and Chicago (the cities, not the nearby streets.) It has 5,000 windows and encompasses 1.3 million square feet of space – mostly offices. A lower atrium features shops, places for workers to eat and drink, and connections to nearby buildings via several skywalks.

US Bank Tower with the Milwaukee skyline from Discovery World

Milwaukee’s skyline is growing, but the US Bank Tower remains the city’s tallest.

The US Bank Tower can be seen from 25 miles out in Lake Michigan. From the road, you can spot it from I-41/94 at the Milwaukee-Racine County line coming in from Chicago. It can even be seen from I-41 southbound near Highway 60 way out in Slinger, where elevation offers a long vantage point to downtown, especially when there are few leaves on the trees.

State Trunk Tour Tidbit:

When Allan H. (“Bud”) Selig was Commissioner of Major League Baseball, he maintained his office in the tower (33rd floor, if we remember correctly), so in a sense the headquarters of MLB was in Milwaukee for two decades.


The US Bank Tower used to have a public observation deck on the 41st floor but it was closed to protect peregrine falcons, which have a hacking box up there for birthing and nesting.

US Bank Tower view of Art Museum to Lake Michigan

From the 40th floor of the US Bank Tower, you can easily see the Milwaukee Art Museum’s distinctive “wings” and quite a ways out into Lake Michigan.

The US Bank Tower is easy to spot, of course. The building is close to a ton of key attractions in Milwaukee, including Discovery World, the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Summerfest and Henry Maier Festival Park, the Historic Third Ward, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and many more. The view it from I-794 and the Hoan Bridge is part of a fantastic city skyline view. U.S. 18/Michigan Street literally runs under the building’s atrium, and Highway 32/Milwaukee Street is just a few blocks away. I-43, I-94, and Highways 38, 57, 59, and 145 all come within a mile of the building.

777 East Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Northern Wisconsin Tobacco Pool Warehouse

Northern Wisconsin Co-op Tobacco Pool Warehouse

In Viroqua just east of downtown along Highways 56 & 82 you’ll find the Northern Wisconsin Co-op Tobacco Pool Warehouse. It was originally built in 1906 by Martin Bekkedal, who immigrated to Wisconsin in the 1880s and became the largest tobacco wholesaler in the state at a time when tobacco was one of Wisconsin’s biggest cash crops.

Despite the curious fact that it’s actually in southwestern Wisconsin, what makes it unique?

Well, it became the nation’s first tobacco marketing cooperative. They formed as a response to a significant drop in the price of tobacco in 1921. Its method of enlisting most of the area’s tobacco farmers to better control market prices – creating a tobacco “pool” – inspired the emerging pool of dairy farmers in the state and became the model so many ended up using.

Now privately owned, this historic building contains offices, a receiving room where tobacco got weighed, storage areas, and “sweating rooms” where tobacco was heated to 115 degrees for curing. (Today, they could do “hot yoga” classes in there.) It is not currently open for tours, but it would be a good idea.

You’ll find the Northern Wisconsin Co-op Tobacco Pool in Viroqua along Highways 56 & 82 (Decker Street) just east of the north-south main drag that is also U.S. 14/61 and Highway 27.

Northern Wisconsin Tobacco Pool Warehouse Address:

504 E. Decker Street (Highways 56/82)
Viroqua, WI 54665

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Temple Theater, Viroqua

Temple Theater logoThe Temple Theater sits inside a classical revival building constructed in 1922 along Viroqua’s Main Street. This elegant venue entertained people from across the area with vaudeville shows, silent movies, musical productions, and other civic events during the mid-20th century. Like most theaters, it closed for a while. A 2002 renovation gave the Temple Theater new life, and it entertains audiences once again.

The building evokes the high-class Neo-classical facades of both vaudeville and traditional theaters. The original interior recalls both classic European opulence and the ornate vaudeville venues in larger American cities. Motifs in the classical revival style can be seen in the cornices, friezes, and moldings of the ceiling and walls of the vestibule. These motifs extend to the lobby, theater house, around the arched stage opening, and in the metal work of the organ grill. The original art-glass globes still hang in the auditorium. The original back screen – with hand-painted local advertisements – still hangs at the rear of the stage. The original screens on either side of the stage, the orchestra pit, even the stage machinery used in live productions and the scenery loft remain intact. The original Wurlitzer organ that provided accompaniment to silent films has been re-purchased by ARTT (Associates of the Restored Temple Theater.)

Temple Theater in Viroqua

Two stores and a Masonic Temple share the building. The Temple Theater itself now serves as a civic and cultural center for the area, hosting a variety of shows and performers. The main venue features 550 seats and a new sound system installed in late 2015.

You’ll find the Temple Theater along Main Street in downtown Viroqua; four state highways (U.S. 14, U.S. 61, Highway 27, and Highway 82) go right past it. Highway 56 crosses a few blocks away.

116 S. Main Street
Viroqua, WI 54665
(608) 606-2340