My new found love of museums was re-ignited when I was asked to tour a local town's museum. This was, by far, the tiniest museum I had ever visited but it was also new to the community. Plus it went beyond the artifacts of the town and showed how the town was started and all the people that were born, raised and help grow the community.
Keep reading and enjoy the article I wrote about this town's museum.
Welcome to the Turtle Lake Museum located in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin. In 2010 the census reported that 1,065 people lived in the village which is located between Polk and Barron county. The village's history dates back to 1875 when European descents first came to the area to settle. Known for its large hardwoods and pine forests about half the population was consisted of Native Americans.
The village was originally named Skowhagen by Stephen Richardson as the area reminded him of his home state of Maine. Richardson went on to open a saw mill that became the village's first and principle industry for years followed by a general store and eventually a post office where Richardson was the postmaster.
Logging camps were built around Upper and Lower Turtle Lake, which are still usable to this day by local swimmers and boaters. Government surveyors came up the name Turtle Lake because of all the turtles that used the areas to lay their eggs. Once a post office was established it only seemed right to carry on with the name Turtle Lake instead of Skowhagen.
As you walk through the museum you will learn more about the history of Turtle Lake. All items throughout the museum have been donated by locals who grew up in the village. These items include band uniforms, military uniforms, cookware, phones and a variety of other items that were used. In fact the main building of the museum was at one time the village's lumber mill which was closed years earlier. Repairs continue to help bring the building up to date and donations are always appreciated.
As you first walk in to the museum look around and into the glass casings that line the wall. Note the differences in band uniforms that the village used throughout the years. As well as the items donated by the local Cub Scout Troop, school year books and articles posted about local events. A variety of items used on a daily basis as well as events that took place.
Continue on and notice the Army uniforms as you continue on, one of them is a woman's uniform, from a local Turtle Lake resident who was in the service but not many people were aware until recently. Her papers and what she in the service can all be found on the display case next to her uniform. She is one of many women who served but wasn't recognized, take a moment to give thanks to all of the unspoken ones who served this country.
As the tour continues look to the walls and find old pictures of farm equipment, homes, buildings and what the town originally looked like. The photos continue to show the railroad tracks and station that use to go through the village. Moving on you'll find a map of what use to be the Turtle Lake School District Map and photos of the schools that use to operate in the area.
More display cases line the walls to include photography equipment, phones, sports memorabilia, toys, fishing equipment and military uniforms. All uniforms were used by local servicemen with one that has an interesting story to it. Upon donation, volunteers were going through the pockets and in one came across a pack of cigarettes and the airline ticket home. As if the person who used to wear it, took it off and never looked back.
In a display case next to the uniforms is a wooden object that was donated by a local family. This object, known as the Montagnard Crossbow, was used by a group of people during Vietnam known as the “Mountain People”. They were indigenous people of Central Highland Vietnam and considered to be “America's Most Loyal Aliens In Vietnam”.
Continue on to see the set-up of a home and items that were used. Next to hit hangs a large quilt with a little bit of a mystery. On it are the names of local business that date back to 1900-1902 which is when it is believed to have been made but the question remains; why? You are left to speculate and wonder why someone would make this and hold on to it for so long.
The tour concludes with more display cases of medical equipment for both doctor, vision and dentist, as well as school and newspaper equipment and finally railroad memorabilia. After a short stroll through the museum you will have learned all about the history of the village of Turtle Lake, Wisconsin. But before you leave be sure to take a stroll outdoors to view the different farm equipment and buggy that was used in the area which also includes a fire truck.
If your passing through be sure to take a moment to stop by and check it out. Volunteers are on sight to answer any questions you may have about the village or any of the items on display. The Turtle Lake Museum is open from June – September, 2nd & 3rd weekends from 10a-4p. There is no fee to visit the museum but donations are always appreciated.
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.