Wisconsin - History and Heritage


Wisconsin is rich in Native American history. Cultural artifacts can be found in several area tribal museums as well as in petroglyphs, pictographs and effigy mounds of the Woodland and Mississippian Indian cultures.

More than 100 rock art sites have been discovered in Wisconsin. Roche-A-Cri State Park is the only interpreted rock art site in the state. It is estimated that the petroglyphs here were carved before 900 A.D. and the pictographs appeared only 400-500 years ago.

Copper Culture State Park at Oconto features an Indian burial pit from 6,000 years ago, making it the oldest cemetery site in Wisconsim. Aztalan State Park, east of Lake Mills, contains one of Wisconsin's most important archaeological sites showcasing an ancient Middle-Mississippian village and ceremonial complex that thrived from 1000-1300 A.D.

The Forest County Potawatomi Community Cultural Center & Museum chronicles the history of the region's native Potawatomi people. The main diorama details the historic ties of the Ojibwe, Ottawa and Potawatomi, a confederation known as the Council of the Three Fires. The museum's Wall of Treaties contains replicas of the 43 treaties negotiated by the tribe with the U.S. government, the most of any U.S. tribe.

The history and customs of the Ojibwe people are celebrated at the George W. Brown, Jr. Ojobwe Museum and Cultural Center. The museum offers cultural exhibits, videos, interactive displays and dioramas depicting the four seasons of Anishinabe ("Original People") life as it has been lived here for centuries. There are also more than 5,000 archived photos dating from the early 1800's to the present.

Madeline Island, historically the spiritual home of the Ojibwe, became an important fur-trading center for the French in the late 1600's. At the Madeline Island Historical Museum, an original historic log building houses exhibits of rare artifacts, many found on the island itself, that tell the story of the area's exploration and settlement from prehistory to present day.

Forts Folle Avoine Historical Park is the site of two abandoned and forgotten fur trading outposts from the early 1800's. Excavated and reconstructed, the forts are now open to the public and are complemented by an authentic reconstruction of a Woodland Indian Village. Costumed interpreters illuminate the culture of the early Native American residents and Euro-American explorers.

The history of Wisconsin's European settles is recreated in the living history tableau of the Heritage Hill State Historical Park. Explore four time periods to learn about fur trading and early law, life at a frontier military post and the state's agricultural heritage. Costumed interpreters show visitors how people lived and worked against a backdrop of 25 historic buildings.

Located thirty-five miles southwest of Milwaukee, Old World Wisconsin is an outdoor museum of immigrant and pioneer history. With more than 65 historic buildings relocated from their original Wisconsin sites, visitors can explore the very farms, homes, churches and stores inhabited by the state's early settlers. A motorized tram takes you from one ethnic area to another in this 576-acre historic site.

Norskedalen Nature and Heritage Center is a 400-acre complex that includes an arboretum, five miles of nature trails, a museum and a reconstructed 1880's Norwegian farmstead. Nestled in a wooded valley among the foothills of Blue Mound lies Little Norway, a collection of a dozen authentic log buildings that preserves the character of the Norwegian pioneers who settled in this part of Wisconsin. The property's signature structure, the "Norway Building," is a reproduction of a 12th century Norwegian Stavkirke (church) and holds a collection of ornate Norse antiques.

Similarly, the Swiss Historical Village tells the story of Swiss immigration to Wisconsin, as well as documenting the introduction and development of Swiss-style cheese making in the Badger state.

The Kenosha Public Museum illustrates how Wisconsin has changed over the last 425 million years. Pull trilobites out of a tropical coral reef. Visit the Mesozoic world of the deinonychus. See a Paleo-Indian hunting party attack woolly mammoths during the Ice Age or the largest and most complete mammoth ever to be excavated in North America.

Founded in 1964, The Mining Museum traces the development of lead and zinc mining in the Upper Mississippi Valley through models, dioramas, artifacts and photographs. A guided tour descends ninety steps into the 1845 Bevans Lead Mine and takes visitors on a train ride around museum grounds in ore cars pulled by a 1931 Whitcomb mine locomotive.

Located in Pioneer Park, the Rhinelander Logging Museum is a true recreation of a lumber camp of the 1870's. The museum houses lumberjack tools and equipment and is the most complete display of its kind in the area.

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