local features

Ben Meyer/WXPR

On Tuesday afternoon, Matt Ellingson walked out of the Kwik Trip on Rhinelander’s east side with a few bottles of water and a snack from the store’s roller grill.

Yet again, he’s intentionally bypassed a restaurant or fast food joint to get something to eat at Kwik Trip.

“That’s exactly what I did today,” he said with a laugh. “I got a Tornado.”

Ellingson feels he knows what to expect at every Kwik Trip location.

“They’ve got good food, good prices, and the people are very friendly,” he said.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Modern telecommunication systems provide the means to contact friends, relatives, and businesses whenever and wherever we want, but historically this is a recent development.  New electronic communication systems often had a dramatic impact on communities, and this can be seen in the Northwoods.  


I spent most of my life not knowing that porcupines could climb trees. While I am a little embarrassed to admit this fact, I am also not sure I spent a ton of time in my younger years thinking about it. Now that I know, I have become obsessed with staring toward the tops of trees trying to find a bound-up ball of quills, nested in the highest branches.


A strange otter encounter, not once but twice, resulted in a Curious North question for the Masked Biologist, who talks about the North American river otter in this week’s Wildlife Matters.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Realtor Lisa Alsteen shows off the features of a century-old four-bedroom house near the courthouse in Rhinelander.

Painted blue on the outside, it has wood floors, a sunny living room, and an inviting porch in front.

Alsteen listed the home, located at 133 North Oneida Avenue, on Monday.

By midday Tuesday, several potential buyers had already been though for showings. She expected an offer wouldn’t take long.

That’s typical these days.

Last spring, the demand for Northwoods homes shot skyward, like nothing Alsteen has seen in her 18 years in realty.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Train robberies are part of the lore of the American West and the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters.  But what was far more common than robbing a moving train was robbing the train depot, and that happened in the Northwoods back in the heyday of railroading.


One of the surest signs of spring here in the Northwoods is the arrival of flocks of Canada geese. You may not have given it much thought, this year or any year, but Aldo Leopold did. 

I thought I heard geese honking recently. Above the din of the noisy road outside, and the noisy family inside, I strained my ears to make sure. One of my boys saw me concentrating, appearing puzzled. “I think I hear geese” I told him. He replied that he had heard geese the day before.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Population projections show our area is rapidly aging.

In 20 years, about a third of the population in the Northwoods will be age 65 or older.

That promises to put even more strain on employers seeking people to fill jobs, and many of those employers are already struggling to find enough workers.

But despite those trends, a new program in the School District of Rhinelander might help fill the gap for employers and their future workers.

Wikipedia Public Domain

Many talented people have lived in the Northwoods, and every now and again one of them achieves national fame.  One such person was Stanley Morner from the town of Prentice in Price County.  Although few people today recognize his name, in the 1940s under the stage name of Dennis Morgan, Stanley Morner was considered an    A-list star and one of Hollywood’s leading men. 

Ben Meyer/WXPR

On Wednesday afternoon, Zach Suchomel strategized with his four teammates in advance of a match of Smite, an online battle arena game.

He suggested characters to use and to block as part of the game, each calculation aimed to give Tomahawk High School a better chance to beat Two Rivers High School.

Suchomel is a junior at Tomahawk and one of the leaders of the school’s eSports team.

Wisconsin Historical Society

During the Second World War, raw materials were in high demand and difficult to obtain.  This made recycling of metal, rubber, and paper more important than ever.  Oneida County met its scrap collection goal but had to sacrifice an historic treasure to do it.  

Ben Meyer/WXPR

On Tuesday morning, Brendan Tuckey was putting the finishing touches on a germination incubator he built at his farm in Sugar Camp.

The chamber, about the size of a large locker, is heated to help vegetable seeds begin to sprout in the spring. It will get its first use in the coming weeks.

Tuckey and his wife Jenny own EverGood Farm, an organic vegetable farm serving the Northwoods.

Most years, they sell much of what they grow at local farmer’s markets. But as the pandemic spread last spring, they pulled the plug on that plan.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Today, travel in and out of the Northwoods can be accomplished by private automobile or airline.  In prior decades, people had multiple options for traveling, including that most mundane of all modes, the bus.  

Botanizing by Bike

Mar 16, 2021

As we move from winter toward spring, (a little sooner than I would have liked) I am getting excited to start biking around the Northwoods. I spend quite a bit of time road biking, which is not always compatible with one of my other favorite pastimes, looking for flowering plants. By early summer, my bike group and I will be logging 50 or more miles at a time, and there is plenty of Northwoods plant life to appreciate from a bike. We mostly ride on county and town roads out of town, so we aren’t likely to see the showy Forsythia, lilac or crab apples favored by homeowners.

Cody Russell, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Facebook

Different animals use different strategies to get through the winter. Some are more obvious than others. What about turtles? The Masked Biologist gives us a glimpse into their lives in this week’s Wildlife Matters.

Recently a large snapping turtle garnered some attention on social media by doing what turtles do—swimming around slowly under water. What was a little unusual, at least for the photographer, is that the turtle swam right under where they were standing—there were a couple of inches of clear ice between them.