Strolling through Southwestern Wisconsin

May 31, 2011

“Sjaahem,” The Nelson Homestead, Iowa County

We were on our way home from visiting daughter and family in St. Louis. We usually break up what really is only a one day trip from Wausau by stopping at Davenport, Iowa. There is a very nice Holiday Inn Express in Le Claire right on the Mississippi River, and we enjoy dinner at Sneaky Pete’s Cowboy Steaks in Le Claire, where you can sit and look out at the Mississippi and have lots of fun. We do the same on the way home.

This allows us to snake on home to Wausau through one of my favorite sections of the state, the southwest, in the case of this story, Grant, Lafayette and Iowa Counties. To be honest, I am also very partial to Crawford, Vernon, Richland and Sauk Counties.

This primarily will be a photo gallery of vistas I enjoyed and wish to share. We traveled through the southern portion of the Western Uplands Geographic Province of Wisconsin. It was October, the weather was perfect, and turned out to be a terrific ride home.

We shot out of Davenport up Hwy 61 to Dubuque, then crossed into Grant County on Hwy 11 and came to the small town of Hazel Green.



Among the first things to catch our eyes was the Wisconsin House Stage Coach Inn. It is a historic country furnished B&B, and looks like a very nice place at which to stay.

Hwy 11 turns north at this corner, but we chose to go straight using CH W. Just a block or so away is the Ambrosia Inn. It was neat, so I walked around a little to take some shots of the accommodations and grounds. It has a main house B&B, cabins and even a tree house. This also looks like a fine place to stay.









Hazel Green is in the far southeast corner of Grant County. Not even a mile east on CH W and you cross into Lafayette County.


You are immediately greeted by this wonderful landscape.


Then a completely different venue, a limestone quarry, like you have been taken into another world.


Continuing on CH W, I found this to be an interesting farm scene, especially the building left of center. So of course I had to stop to try to figure out what it was all about.


Nothing earth-shattering, I guess, just one-each very old farm house-storage house.


I think this is a view of the rest of the farming complex. The setting was, for me, alluring.

Shortly after this, we turned north on CH J toward Benton.


Hard at work harvesting the corn crop.


For me, one of many glimpses of God’s country in Wisconsin.


Benton, Lafayette County is a small community in southwest Wisconsin, very close to both Illinois and Iowa, with a population of about 1007. It was settled in 1844. This building was built in 1916.

We hen turned east on Hwy 11 and were happily surprised by the historic and well preserved town of Schullsburg. We’ll take a look down historic and recently preserved Water Street.


The main building you see is the Brewster House


The other side of the street


Water Street Pub and Eatery


Hanler’s Unique Shops


I turned north on Hwy 23 and just as we entered Avon, hooked a right on CH K. CH K turns to the south but we kept going straight on Red Rock Rd. which offered some wonderful vistas.




We escaped and evaded through some back roads and ended up on Hwy 78 going north.


There are several geographic-geologic things in Wisconsin over which I go bonkers. Contour farming is one of them. I need to study it more, but from a visual point of view, I find great beauty in the way it is done.

We approached Argyle on Hwy 78, then hooked a left on Hwy 81 and a quick right on CH N and headed northward.


We soon came upon Yellowstone Lake Park heading west on Lake Rd. off of CH N. Entering the lake park was beautiful.



During our visit, the lake was about as serene as one could hope.

We exited the park, headed back out to CH N, kept on northward and crossed into Iowa County on CH K toward Hollandale. I was completely overtaken by the beauty of the scenery off CH K. I’ll share some of it.





I’m also a nut for barns, no matter in what shape they’re in!



And I admire greatly the farmers who work countless hours at their craft.



I was supposed to be heading back to Wausau, but when I spot a neat narrow gravel road that looks interesting, well, I divert.


This one attracted me for the rock formations I saw along its side. This is somewhere near the town of Brigham.

Okay, got to head home. We came up to Hwy 151 and took it eastward toward Mount Holeb. But oops, I saw a sign pointing to Blue Mounds State Park near the town of Blue Mounds, just to the north of Hwy 151, so in there I went, and I’m glad I did. She is a pretty good sized state park, mostly covered with forest, very close to the border with Dane County, but elevated wit some great views into Dane County. Mapquest shows the town of Blue Mounds in Dane County, but the park in Iowa County.


As we walked into this section of the park, which I believe is called “Mounds View,” I could see straight ahead, in the center of this photo, a wide view of the land below in Dane County. The Mounds View is really on the edge of the county line between Iowa and Dane Counties.



A fabulous view below. Too bad Madison could not be seen from here --- would be a great artillery position! Ha! Just kiddin’ guys and ladies of the Wisconsin government. Well, not totally kidding.


As we came down from Blue Mounds, I spotted another one of my weaknesses, a super clump of Weeping Willow trees.



Okay, time started running short, and I needed to hit the road home to Wausau.


My wife, a native of Wausau who left to go to college, and now is back in Wausau, has commented to me several times that one of the things she remembers the most as a child growing up in Wisconsin is that it presented greens as beautifully as any place she has ever seen, and she has traveled around the world This photo surely bears that out.


We kept heading northward through eastern Iowa County before making the turn to get to I-39 for the fast ride home. But somewhere close to Arena, Wisconsin, I spotted this round barn. These guys are hard to find anymore. Like I said, I’m a softie for barns, especially old round ones.