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A Northwoods Moment In History

We turn back the clock on WXPR with local historian Gary Entz to find out what life in the Northwoods used to be like. This is part of a new initiative by WXPR to tell the history and culture of northern Wisconsin.

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  • Most shelterbelts date to the 1930s, but one Northwoods farmer recognized their benefits long before that.
  • The Northwoods has produced many remarkable people. While many thrive in northern Wisconsin and never want to live anyplace else, others must leave to reach their full potential. Winifred Dunn is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary women ever to come out of the Northwoods.
  • The black bear is a living symbol of Wisconsin’s Northwoods. Summer visitors thrill at seeing one, and hunters look forward to the opportunity to take part in a seasonal bear hunt. Black bears are important to the Northwoods, but in the not-so-distant past they were seen as more of a nuisance with hunters taking unlimited numbers.
  • In the United States, the first great ventriloquist was Harry E. Lester, and Lester considered the Northwoods to be his home.
  • Railroad accidents were common in the late nineteenth century. Because safety was an issue, some train robbers in the Northwoods thought they could use it to their advantage.
  • The Wisconsin River is a tamed river, but in the past, before the dams, the river ran wild, and loggers found Grandfather Falls near Merrill to be a difficult obstacle to overcome.
  • Matthew Stapleton was head of one of Rhinelander’s oldest and most distinguished families. Stapleton settled in Rhinelander in 1883 and worked as an overseer of the Brown Brothers’ boom operation. In 1904 he was elected mayor of Rhinelander and later went on to serve as postmaster. Despite all that, it was his daughter Beatrice who made history during World War II.
  • Organized labor’s campaign for a ten-hour workday gained momentum in the 1870s and 1880s. The often-violent response to union demands in places like…
  • Ole Catfish and his family led quiet, unassuming lives in their home at Lac du Flambeau. They were not remarkable in any way and not the type of people…
  • Charles Sanders was a carpenter who relocated to Lake Tomahawk in 1888 to help construct the station building for the Milwaukee Line. Sanders paid $125…