Wisconsin - “Oh Wisconsin, Land of My Dreams”

“Oh Wisconsin, Land of My Dreams” is the state ballad, written by Shari A. Sarazin and Erma Barrett. An excerpt goes like this: “Oh Wisconsin, land of beauty, with your hillsides and your plains, with your jackpine and your birch tree, and your oak of mighty frame. Land of rivers, lakes and valleys, and of warmth and winter snows, land of birds and beasts and humanity, oh Wisconsin, I love you so.”

During my travels around the state, I fall in love with certain landscapes and photograph them. I want to present some I like here --- no “Photoshopping” except for size, maybe some clipping.

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A barn and much more. This great old red barn is located on CH DL in eastern Sauk County, west off Hwy 78, and between Bluff Road and Parfrey's Glen, and close to Devil's Head resort. But here is the added wonder that goes with this barn. On the same property is, I guess, a very old gas station being used as a sort of museum piece these days.


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Gills Rock is at the northern tip of the Door Peninsula in Door County, arguably one of the most picturesque of the small towns in this county. This area is also very popular with scuba divers who explore the many shipwrecks in and around Death's Door.

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I took this shot in Genesee Depot while straddling the rail line across the street from The Union House restaurant, a first class restaurant in the town. It traces its lineage back to 1861. Frankly, I thought when I took this photo that I was dealing with a building that either now or back in the day dealt with the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad. When I came home, I researched it and discovered the building is much larger than it looks here, and is the home of the This & That Craft Mill. It features the work of a multitude of local artisans and conducts creative classes to help you paint, knit, crochet, scrapbook or more.

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The Mississippi Bridge crossing the river from La Crosse. There are two bridges at this crossing. The older steel truss bridge is known as the Cass Street Structure. The new steel arch bridge was added in 2005. It is known as the Cameron Avenue Structure. Together, they are called The Mississippi River Bridge.

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The weeping willows were popping and were, after the winter, most uplifting to see, this one off Arneson Hill Lane which runs off CH D south of Whitehall, in front of a home nestled in the woods, Trempealeau County. I could live here.

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I surely went on a get-lost ride this day, and have since lost my notes. But this is so typical Wisconsin, a "car wheels and a gravel road" on a beautiful fall day.

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This farmer is scooping up his hay after which he’ll roll ‘em and bring ‘em back out to his field. This is northeast of Plymouth and north of Hwy 23, on one of the county roads. You see this happening all over the state. It's fun to stop and watch.

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Just outside the city of Sauk was a place known as Prairie du Sac. It is located in a large Wisconsin River valley where the Sauk Indians used to settle. The area is very pretty, but frankly flat as a table top. This helps explain why I reacted the way I did as I proceeded west on Hwy 60. It seemed like after driving just a while, I came into a geographic area that absolutely stunned me. I thought I had passed into a different country.

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We’re in Clintonville, Waupaca County, where Hemlock Street crosses the Pigeon River close to the town's center. This was a spectacular view of a grand weeping willow, one draped so beautifully over a river.

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Here is a zoomer of this wonderful tree.

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For my first visit to Pepin County, I was on my way home from Minnesota, and crossed over the Mississippi at Winona and wound my way through back roads to Dun County on the north. This is typical of the landscape I saw.

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Get lost on the backroads and see what you see. It's incredible back there. This was taken on a wildly gravel and water-pitted road trying to get to Hughitt Lake in Oneida County. Never saw the lake, had no cell signal, all alone, and loving it, so long as the old Jeep doesn't break down!

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Cedar Creek Falls in Oneida County.

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This landscape shot was taken on County Z very close to Hickory Cemetery Road just before coming to Suring in Oconto County. It was a marvelous day, and this open landscape shot nicely reflects the Central Plain Geographic Province in this region.


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I was traveling south on Lakeshore Drive through Manitowoc County. I stopped at Hika Bay Park, at the end of Lincoln Ave. in Cleveland. These Ring Billed Gulls, well known on Lake Michigan, were having ball. It’s weird how such a beautiful scene and a bunch of birds can eat up nearly an hour of just sitting in the breeze and taking it all in.

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This is marshland that is part of Horn Lake. I wandered around a bit to get as close as I could to the marsh, and the vegetation was simply marvelous.

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I hear a lot of people brush off Merrill. Do so at your own peril. There is a lot of wild land to explore around the town, especially to the northeast. This is marshy-creek-like area on the north side of Heineman Rd. This marsh was lush with bluish wildflowers that gave the area a blue tint.

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I found this landscape to be intriguing. It's flat and then rises in the distance, and fields are separated by tall grass. Let's take a closer look.

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While I am not sure, I believe this “land architecture” is a conservation design perhaps even part of an irrigation plan.

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Hwy 69 cuts through a mound of limestone to make its journey.

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Traveling on Hwy 73 north in July, wild flowers along the roadside were plentiful and gorgeous.

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This is a shot of the Western Uplands Geographic Province in all its splendor. Take Hwy 27 N out of Prairie du Chien through Eastman and then Mount Sterling, then head east on Hwy 171 to Gays Mill and then north again on Hwy 131 to Soldiers Grove, a nice drive.

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Well, they do have the right of way out here

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A path out of the woods to the Prairie River Dells west of Tomahawk

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Ginseng farming in Lincoln County. Marathon County is the Ginseng capital of the world.

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This happens to be in Langlade County, but such a landscape can be seen just about everywhere in the state.

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There is something about a cornfield in the fall that is appealing, and the dirt road just makes you want to drive in until it ends. This is in the area of Benton, Lafayette County, off US Hwy 11.

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While traveling along Hwy 108, which ran through Mindoro, we learned that we were in a valley known as the Severson Coulee.

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While in the area of Mauston, I encountered fantastic buttes just jumping out from the flatlands. Wisconline.com talks to these buttes this way: "Isolated, rocky hills which resemble ruined castles, grotesque towers and crags of sandstone along a line of bold, irregular bluffs, and an unusually flat plain which stretches away beyond the northern and eastern horizons."

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There is a nice bike riding and walking trail, the Glacial Trail, from downtown Ft. Atkinson through a covered bridge to the county line. Look closely you can see the bridge at the end of the path in this photo.

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In Jackson County, there is an area close to Bear Bluff in the southeastern corner where marshes are plentiful. This is an extensive wetland complex with occasional ridges occupying much of the bed of the extinct Glacial Lake Wisconsin, part of what is known as the "Great Swamp of Central Wisconsin."

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Monument Rock is located one mile south of Liberty Pole. This is known as a mountain pillar, a column of rock produced by differential weathering or erosion along a joint plane, Vernon County


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Contour farming is a farming practice of plowing across a slope following its elevation contour lines. The rows form slow water run-off during rainstorms to prevent soil erosion and allow the water time to settle into the soil. It looks artistic, especially from the air. This was taken in Trempealeau County.

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Contour farming in Monroe County, near Leon.


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The forest in Birnamwood on a wonderful October day, just a nice walk

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Cranberry fields near Warren, the “capital of Wisconsin’s cranberry industry

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Contour farming in Jackson County in the southwest corner just east of the hills around Hwy 54.

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While traveling along Hwy 108, which ran through Mindoro, we learned that we were in a valley known as the Severson Coulee in Farmington. Marvelous country.

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The northern part of Douglas County near Lake Superior is fascinating. Part of this area is known as the Lake Superior Lowlands Geographic Province, which you see here in the foreground. Looking out to the distance, to the south. you see the ridges and hills rise in the adjacent Northern Highland Geographic Province.

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I came across this dig in the Town of Brazeau, just south of Rost Lake in Oconto County. I present this photo to give you a good idea of what they mean when they say this region is dominated by the Northeast Sands of sandstone.

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This is a look at Green Bay from Door County. Poor notes, not exactly sure where I was. All I knew is it was private, quiet and gorgeous.

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A great October day, I entered Iowa County from the south, from Lafayette County, and hopped on CH K north to an area north of Hollandale. During the course of this ride, I came upon marvelous landscape and rural farm scenes. I couldn’t pick out just one for you, so I presented two.

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This outcrop stands alone on CH X on the southern end of Wyalusing River State Park, close to where the Wisconsin River meets the Mighty Mississippi. So how did that get there. There are many similar features throughout the state.


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These kinds of wildflowers adorn many sections of the roads in Wisconsin. These were located east of Madison in Dane County on Feenstra Road which juts off Hwy 73.

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This is an example of hedge farming. I just entered Dodge County northeast of Columbus in neighboring Columbia County and was straddling the county line with Columbia County up through Randolph. Hedgerows, which can be simply areas of tall grasses and shrubs, have long played an important role in agriculture. They break the wind, attract beneficial insects and reduce pests. They also reduce erosion, and help hold water. This photo was taken in July 2008 after some heavy flooding in the south. You see the accumulation of water on both sides of the hedges.

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“The Rock” at Gerry’s Point on the property of Justin Trails resort, resting on a narrow ridge at about 1,200 ft. elevation

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I was taking a “get lost” route through Eau Claire County back toward Wausau. This section is still in the Central Plains Geographic Province and you can see the land is fairly flat. But as you take CH XX northward you enter the Northern Highlands geographic province so you start encountering some hills and ridges, and you drive on a slight incline. Indeed, as you drive on I-39 all the way to its northern terminus you can see you are a steady incline.

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Harvest time in Iowa County in October. As I watched this farmer work, I was almost envious of his great surroundings, but then again, I know how hard is work is. More power to him.

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This is the beach on Eagle Bay. On this view, you are looking to the east southeast. In the distance you can see Raspberry Island, and then beyond it, off in the distance, Bear Island. May sound crazy, but the sand has a raspberry tone to it.

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Corn crop almost ready for harvest in Monroe County.

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This is from Hwy 133 in Grant county. It was April. Think green, because it was mighty green on this route. The land was lightly rolling, but what was remarkable to us were these little streams cutting their way through the land. This shows how the stream has cut through the flat land. It will just meander back and forth roughly paralleling Hwy 133 for a while.

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Hardwood Hill, one of three hills that geologically are part of Wausau’s Rib Mountain “complex.”

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I drove up CH P, I think, to East Stone Chimney Road, and hooked a right, near Solon Springs in Douglas County. I came across something I knew nothing about, the Brule Bog. For me, this turned out to be a wondrous and educational adventure. There was a short gravel walkway into the bog, followed by a very nice wooden one.

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You do not go very far in Wisconsin without seeing the cattle. This crew has found great place to relax in Iowa County near Hollandale.

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The hills of Monroe County from near Leon.

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It’s hard to pluck out just one photo of the beauty I saw inside the Brule bog, but here’s one to give you an idea.

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Spectacular farm scenes like this are a hallmark of the Wisconsin landscape, people and culture. I am on Chrislaw Rd., just south of Okee.

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Door County is terrific fruit growing country, including vineyards supporting wineries. These apple trees were in full bloom. It was June 2, 2011.

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A portion of the western edge of Menominee County, that county being almost totally forest. To the east is Shawano County, where you can see the forest has been cut down and the land is being farmed. The line set by the forest is clear as a bell!

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A landscape scene in the Town of Maine, outside Wausau.

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The weeping willow, here in Iowa County, just magnificent. They frequently stand alone, set off to show themselves to all.

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I was returning from Minnesota and crossed the Mississippi into Wisconsin on Hwy 25 through Wabasha and into Buffalo County. The Mississippi here is very marshy, with some neat cliffs and scenery on the Wisconsin side, easily visible from the vicinity of Nelson. This area is known as the Upper Wisconsin Wildlife Refuge.

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Here you see a beautiful marsh area with what looks like an irrigation dig. We had entered Dodge County northeast of Columbus in neighboring Columbia County.

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I was traveling northeast on Reumann Road, on the northern side of the Wisconsin River close to Dekorra, Columbia County, which is on the southern side. At one point the road comes pretty close to the Wisconsin River and a group of islands in the river. The river looked pretty high --- it was June 25, 2013 --- and I took some shots of a high river in a splendid landscape.


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We’re near Edgerton in Dane County, in mid-September 2009. Those are dried up soybean fields creating a beautiful landscape of yellow up against the green treelike in the diastase. If you squint real hard you would see the soybean filed bordering on a cornfield center-right.

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There is a lot of limestone in Wisconsin. Driving in rural areas, especially in the west, you see many homes and buildings built from limestone. This is the Senn Limestone Quarry Training Area on CH G just outside Fountain in Bear County. It is owned by Kraemer Mining Co.

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Again poor notes, but I know this is landscape in Door County, I believe over toward the eastern side. The photo, a good one, still does not do those slowly rolling hills full justice. Absolutely marvelous.

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While driving along the Rustic Road in Columbia County I spotted this clan of Wild Turkeys, which hurriedly started to run to the water to get away from me. Wild Turkeys are everywhere in Wisconsin.

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Fall scenery near Leon in September.

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I am on CH D and stayed on it all the way to Hwy 37 just south of Mondovi, traveling to Mondovi along side the Buffalo River. The scenery was magnificent. This is great country.

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An example of contour farming east of Madison. Contour farming is usually done across slopes following its contour lines. The slopes are not massive here, but there is one as you can see going up to the trees.

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Another nice example of contour farming spotted from some back roads near Hwy 78 in Lafayette County.
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In Bear County, I proceeded both on CH G for a very short distance and turned off on Lower Eagle Valley Road, which heads due west back toward the Mississippi. Eagle Valley itself runs in a northeasterly direction from the road. The landscape was spectacular.Those ridges barely visible in the distance are in Minnesota on the west side of the Mississippi.

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I am heading out to the east on Lower Eagle Valley Road, and here you get a glimpse of much of the valley.

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I headed out of Lodi on Hwy 113 and came to a road marked Rustic Road, which I always like to take. It turned out is was named Chrislaw Rd., just south of Okee. What a wonderful scene this is. I could see an escarpment in the hill which interested me so I pressed closer. To my surprise, this is known as Gibraltar Rock. It is a flat topped butte, part of the Magnesian Escarpment. Gibraltar Rock was originally owned by Columbia County, which transferred ownership to the DNR in 2007. It was designated a State Natural Area in 1969.

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As everything starts to bud and blossom in late April, all kinds of colors emerge in the trees below. Monroe County’s hills are top drawer.

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On Hwy 21 in Adams County, Wisconsin, not far from Coloma, stands something known as “Ship Rock,” which the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has dubbed “an isolated pinnacle of Cambrian sandstone.” The professionals there also call it “one of the easternmost of the castellated mounds of central Wisconsin.” She’s a lonely ship on the plain.