Genesee, in the Kettle moraine, once a boom town

Genesee Township is located near the center of Waukesha County (between Waukesha & Ottawa) in the beautiful “Kettle Moraine” area of southeast Wisconsin. The entire area was formed 10,000 years ago by the glaciers. AS a result, the town sits in the Kettle Moraine, or as I say, she’s in the Kettle. Genesee Depot was settled predominantly by the English, Irish & Welsh and became a thriving settlement when the Milwaukee & Mississippi Railroad laid tracks through the area in 1851. It became a thriving agricultural service center. The town to this day retains its old charm.

June 27, 2012


While roaming around Waushara County we came to a most charming little town name Genesee Depot. We entered town from the east on Hwy 83. When I took this photo, I thought I was shooting what might have once been the old town depot. I would later learn that was wrong. The old depot has been moved and is now the Genesee Depot Cafe. This building was built for retail and when I was there was empty.


It turns out the Milwaukeee & Mississippi Railroad laid tracks through this area in the early 1850s. One of the settlers, John Magree talked the rail line into putting the track through here. A depot was built along with a store and warehouse and post office. The town then entered a boom era of commercial activity and would become a hub for shipping milk from the many local dairy farms surrounding the area. Indeed it became an agricultural service center.

The Milwaukee & Mississippi was incorporated in 1847 as The Milwaukee & Waukesha. The name was changed sometime in the 1850s to Milwaukee & Mississippi. In the early 1870s, The Milwaukee & Mississippi became The Milwaukee Road. The line ran its first train to Wauwatosa, east of Genesee depot, in February 1851. The line would change ownership and names over the years ahead. The line put tracks through the Genesee Depot area in 1851. The rail route through Genesee Depot is the first and oldest in Wisconsin.

Many of the buildings in the town today date back to the 1800s. That they have been renovated and preserved is a real plus for the community, and for visitors to it. Somehow, I missed one of the more famous buildings, the home of Ten Chimney’s, the former home of Broadway stars Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. But I did get some photos of some other great places in town, so let’s take a look. I guarantee this all beats the Wal-Mart look!


Top priority for me is to introduce you to The Union House, built in 1861 as an inn and hotel. Today it serves as a restaurant and wine shoppe. There are two top notch B&Bs close by, recommended by the Union House, so a stay here could be lots of fun, and delicious too.


While on the subject of great food, word on the street says the Cornerstone Restaurant is a must visit. It is a casual neighborhood bistro in the center of town that will take you from breakfast right through dinner.


Angels Place is most interesting. Angels Place is a resale shop that accepts gently used donated items (and monetary donations), the proceeds of which are used to provide resources and monetary help to the caregivers of the terminally ill. The shop is filled with furniture, nick-knacks, books, photography and new artwork from a local artists.


This building is adjacent to Angels Place. From right to left is Sally’s Sweet Shoppe which is a bakery and serves “indulgent treats.” Then the Beehive, which offers beauty salon suites, and finally Interstate Heating.


This is Tandem’s which sells women’s apparel including purses, jewelry and other gifts.


I like this shot, because it gives you a sense for the neighborhood environment. The main building here is the office of Dr. Mark Meinhardt, DDS. Good thick walls so you can’t hear the drilling! Ha!


Oh yes, last but not least, the local pub, In Cahoots & Co.

Great town. I want to go back.

One final note.


I mentioned that Genesee spot sits in the Kettle Moraine, as does much of Waukesha County and its northern neighbor, Washington County. Much of the Kettle Moraine, known as the Mid-Kettle Moraine, a conical shaped hill of sand and gravel that was formed by glacial meltwater swirling into a vertical shaft in the glacier. The Kettle Moraine is a specific chain of hills and pot shaped valleys that begins in the Whitewater area and extends northeast to Door County. There is a south-north Kettle Moraine Scenic drive that attracts many.

In case you forgot, a moraine is a mass of rocks and sediment carried down and deposited by a glacier, typically as ridges at its edges or extremity. The glacier here is the great Wisconsin Glacier, the last one to leave the US.