My first official travel write was for a local museum that my sister-in-law was working at. I didn't ask for any money, just wanted the chance to write and post it on my website as well as submit it to a few magazines. I've always had a love for museums but after this gig, I was in love and slightly obsessed with them. Even though, it was never picked up the pictures I took while there, were, and were published in the online Wisconsin magazine website. Again, no money but plenty of exposure and views happened because of it, for that, I was happy to add it to my resume.
The article I wrote can be read below. Enjoy!!
Everyone knows the names and history of the big cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and New York. Have you ever travelled outside of these cities and into the country only to discover small town after small town? Things are quieter and easier; did you ever look at them and wonder what their history is?
A good way to find out is to visit their local historical museum. Approximately two hours east of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota, there are such towns located in Wisconsin. This journey takes us to the 1880 Pioneer Village Musuem of Barron County located between Barron and Cameron, Wisconsin.
The area was established in 1860 and before then was home to thousands of Native Americans. It was home to a vast wilderness; a logging camp was set up, and the building of the towns began in 1874. This area was known by a wealthy Chippewa Falls lumberman who knew the Northern Railway would pass through the settlement. It has since grown and along with it came the Village Museum which recently celebrated its 50 year anniversary.
There are approximately 40 buildings that make up this museum and allow you to take a stroll back in time to the days when things were done by hand and one-room classrooms with multiple grade levels were a common sight. Here a single teacher would be in charge of students in grades first through eighth grade. There could be as few as six or as many as 40 in each school; the younger ones sat in front in the smaller desks while the older students were in back in the larger desks. Teachings were usually of reading, writing, arithmetic, history, and geography.
Another stop in the museum would be a place not loved by many, the Dentist Office. The dentist chairs didn't even become comfortable until 1958 when they were able to be reclined. Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) wasn't used until the mid-1800s and Novocain wasn't created until 1903. After World War II the push to brush and floss became more persistent, and the biggest improvements to dental hygiene didn't occur until after soft drinks became popular; one of the biggest offenders of our time.
Continue walking through the village to see one-room homes, a blacksmith, farmhouses, post office and a jail just to name a few. The museum also has large sheds that hold a collection of items that include phones, farm equipment and house hold items that were used during the 1880s.
Lastly, no museum is complete without a Gift Shop. Here you will find many souvenirs, such as hand crafted items, woven rugs, and clothes, to help remember the past as well as your present experience at the Pioneer Village Museum.
As you walk down Pioneer Street of the Village Museum be sure to slow down and enjoy the past as it speaks to you with the unexplained cool breeze, a flicker out of the corner of your eye or an extra creek on the wooden floor. Let the sights and sounds of the past remind us of how we got to our present day...
The Museum also has an entertainment pavilion for public use, picnic and rest areas. The Cultural Arts Building serves food during special events and has seating inside and outside. They are open to private tours, weddings, family reunions, company picnics, class reunions and tour groups during non-public hours. They are a Blue Star Museum that offers free admission to active military and their families. Tour buses are welcome!
The Pioneer Village Museum is open to the public from June 2 – September 10; Friday & Sunday, 1-5p and Saturday 10-5p. Special arrangements for visits outside regular business hours can often be made by calling the Museum in advance.
You don't have to go far to have fun. Here are a few places I visit when I'm not driving across country or exploring the Rustic Roads.