Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Old World Wisconsin - A Slice of History

You can travel back in time. At Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, Wisconsin, the past is alive. The 600 acre site was opened in 1976 and is comprised of more than sixty historic Wisconsin structures. Each was carefully dismantled, moved and reconstructed precisely as they had been originally built, in an appropriate setting. Gardens are planted each year with heirloom plants and tended with 19th century implements. You'll find chickens wandering the yards and oxen at work in the fields.

This is the country's largest museum of rural life. Settlers of the time are represented in various villages including Danish, Finnish, German, Polish, "Yankee" and African-American. Walking into each building you'll find the authentically costumed "residents" cooking on wood stoves, making soap, sewing, washing clothes and going about daily life.

We took our 5 & 6 year old granddaughters to visit last week, and made our first stop at St. Peter's church. Kari sang along as the organist played 'Amazing Grace' on the pump organ.

We watched the blacksmith make an S hook and then wandered into the Thomas General Store.
The girls enjoyed lifting the lids to see what was in each bin. They found flour, cornmeal, rice and more.

At Four Mile Inn, the innkeeper's wife modestly explained the many layers she was wearing, and revealed her bustle so the girls could see exactly what that was! In the Peterson Farmhouse, we spotted a chamberpot. Kelli was horrified to learn that as the youngest child, she would be expected to empty it in the morning, while Kari fetched water from the pump. Our last stop of the day was the Raspberry Schoolhouse, where the girls attended class and enjoyed writing on the slates.

If you've never been to Old World Wisconsin, we encourage you to make a visit. The site is open from June 15th thru October 31st each year, and special events & workshops are offered throughout the season. If you love history, antiques, or just being out in a beautiful setting, you will enjoy it! The entire site reflects the spirit of our early settlers, stated aptly in a motto on the schoolhouse chalkboard: American ends in "I can" not "I can't".

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