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

Man Mound Park & Historic Marker

Man Mound National Historic Landmark

Man Mound Historic MarkerMan Mound is the only human-shaped effigy mound left in North America – that we know of. Constructed sometime between 600AD and 900AD by Native Americans, Man Mound is 214 feet long and raises up an average of 2.5 feet up from the ground. It served as a gathering place for feasts, sacred rituals, and many believe the burial of relatives’ remains, in part to connect with spirits. When you visit, you can see where the road cut through what was part of the Man’s legs; a farm across the street preserves some of the Man’s feet. The rest of the mound, in the park, is easy to decipher as the shape of a person, including the arms and head.

Man Mound

Here you can see the legs of Man Mound, part of which were cut off the road over 150 years ago.

Construction of what is now Man Mound Road in the 19th century obliterated part of the Man’s legs, but the rest of the mound is in good shape. It was first identified and surveyed as a man-made mound in 1859 by a European settler named William Canfield. A county park was designated around it in 1908, helping to preserve the rest of the mound. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and became a National Historic Landmark in 2016.

Man Mound marker

Man Mound Road sign along Highway 33

This caught our eye.

We first discovered Man Mound when we saw the road sign, which we thought was an interesting name, so we followed it. What a treat to stumble on this cool piece of history!

Man Mound Park also has a playground, bathroom, and picnic tables. You’ll find it just off Highway 33 on Man Mound Road, northeast of Baraboo in Sauk County. It’s just over ten minutes from I-90/94.

Man Mound Address:

E13085 Man Mound Road
Baraboo, WI 53913
(608) 356-1001 (Sauk County Historical Society)

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

First Kindergarten in Watertown

America’s First Kindergarten

Watertown is officially recognized as the site of America’s first kindergarten. In 1856, Watertown was Wisconsin’s second largest city, sitting at the western end of the famous Watertown Plank Road from Milwaukee. Watertown resident Margarethe Meyer Schurz, wife of the famous German-American statesman Carl Schurz, learned about children’s education in her native Hamburg, Germany. She opened a school known as a “children’s garden” – aka a “kindergarten” – for her kids and some relatives’ kids. When other area kids wanted to enroll, she expanded from their home on Church Street into a building on Second and Jones in downtown Watertown.

The Schurz’ left Watertown in 1858 for Milwaukee and eventually Washington DC, where Carl Schurz became minister to Spain and served in other roles in President Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet. He later became editor of the New York Post.

The building continued to host kindergarten classes for over four decades before becoming a cigar factory, then a fish store, and then a religious bookstore. In 1956, the building was moved to its current location behind another famous historic landmark, The Octagon House. Both are now operated by the Watertown Historical Society and are open for tours. The interior depicts a day when classes were in session.

You’ll find the site of America’s first kindergarten behind the Octagon House on Charles Street. It’s southeast of downtown Watertown, just south of Highway 19, Business Highway 16 and east of Business Highway 26.

11:00 to 3:00 from May 1st to Memorial Day
10:00am to 4:00pm daily from day after Memorial Day through Labor Day
11:00am to 3:00pm after Labor Day to October 31
Closed for the season Nov 1 to April 30
Tours are fully guided every hour on the hour

$9.00 for adults
$8.00 for senior citizens and AAA members
$5.00 for children 6 to 17 years of age

919 Charles Street
Watertown, WI 53094
(920) 261-2796

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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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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Indian Mounds Park, Whitewater

Also known as the Whitewater Effigy Mounds Preserve, Indian Mounds Park covers 22-acres and preserves a prehistoric, Native American ceremonial and burial site dating back to between 200 and 1000 A.D. You’ll find a collection of animal and geometric mounds, and along the east bank of an old river bed, a former community area that once held 30 circular huts where early mound builders lived. The dozen or so effigy mounds at the site are what survive, and they continue to serve as a setting for Native American ceremonial pow-wows.

Indian Mounds Park is open daily and admission is free. You’ll find it on the west side of Whitewater, between Historic/”Business” U.S. 12 through town and the U.S. 12 Bypass. Highways 59 and 89 are also close.

Historic Washington House, home of the ice cream sundae

Built as an immigrant hotel and saloon in the 1850s, the Historic Washington House lays claim to inventing the ice cream sundae.  There are seven rooms and an old ballroom to explore, all filled with items of historic interest.

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You’ll find the Washington House one block east of Highway 42 along Jefferson Street; the marker is along 42 one block north. Stop in for a sundae; they’re as good as you might imagine!

1622 Jefferson Street
Two Rivers, WI 54241
(920) 793-2490