local features

wisconsin historical society

Transportation today is something we take for granted, but in the past getting from here to there could be an arduous experience. Particularly if the destination was the Northwoods. Historian Gary Entz has the story of the Ontonagon Mail Trail.

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Have you ever seen a bee emerging from a hole in the ground in the spring? There are many ground nesting bee species in Wisconsin and for this month's Field Notes, Gretchen Gerrish tells us more.

Image by bernard dupont

Have we ever had parrots in Wisconsin, do we have them now, or will we have them in the future? While it might seem an unlikely topic for the Masked Biologist, parrots are the subject of this week’s Wildlife Matters.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Many infamous criminals and gangsters passed through the Northwoods during the 1920s and 1930s. John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and Al Capone are just a few, but there were lesser known ones as well. Historian Gary Entz has the story of one such outlaw.

Public Domain

Did you know about the Cold War era ELF transmission site at Clam Lake, 80 miles northwest of Rhinelander? In this week’s Wildlife Matters, the Masked Biologist tells us about the antenna array and its connection to wildlife management.

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Standing at Grand Traverse Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula, a look right reveals picturesque yellow-sand beaches and unassuming seasonal homes.

A look left includes nothing but a black shoreline on this part of the peninsula, which juts into Lake Superior in Upper Michigan.

Jay Parent scooped up a handful of the pebbly black sand, which stretches out of sight on the shoreline.

“It was this high stamp sand right here all the way across the harbor,” Parent says, gesturing more than head-high.

The F.W. Woolworth and Company, most often referred to simply as Woolworth’s, was a mainstay of small-town main streets for many decades. It was a significant part of Rhinelander’s Brown Street as well. Historian Gary Entz as the story:

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The turtle hatchlings are emerging from their nests, and turtles are starting to dig nests and lay eggs. The Masked Biologist explains this interesting survival mechanism in this week’s Wildlife Matters.

Dan Dumas/Kim Swisher Communications

From a few yards away, a woman and four small children watch a massive machine rumble to life.

They stand, look, and point as a boat is lifted by the Burnt Rollways Boat Hoist, carried over a road and dam, and dropped gently in the water on the other side.

“It’s a novelty,” said Scott Blado, who is operating the machine. “It’s just kind of a thing that you go and do. It’s not really a ‘we’ve got to go that way’ kind of thing. It’s more of an event.”

This week, operators fired up the hoist, the only one of its kind in the state, for the summer season.

The summer tourist season has begun, but how summer visitors get to the Northwoods has always been an important part of the local economy. Air travel is a modern means of getting to a vacation destination, but air travel to the Northwoods started earlier than many people realize. Historian Gary Entz has the story:

Humane Society of Marathon County

Across the county, pet adoptions have seen a dramatic increase since the beginning of the pandemic. In areas where the virus is more prevalent, some shelters have even run out of dogs and cats for adoption. Although local Northwoods shelters still do have animals available, there has been a notable increase in the number of adoptions. Jim and Debbie Boman, of Merrill, recently adopted Delilah, a Labrador-Pitbull mix from the Humane Society of Marathon County.

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The Conservation Congress Spring hearing results are out, but haven’t gotten a lot of attention—that is until the Masked Biologist decided to examine the results of some very important questions in this week’s wildlife matters.

Rebecca Gotts

At first glance, the YouTube video simply shows a young girl playing with Legos at her home.

But if you listen closely, it’s something more.

Six-year-old Wren Gotts is describing her Lego creations, by color, in Anishinaabemowin, the traditional Ojibwe language.

Wren patiently holds up each piece, explaining it in the language.

wisconsin historical society

The Memorial Day weekend is nearly here. While Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of the summer season, it is worth remembering that what was once known as Decoration Day is about so much more. Historian Gary Entz has the story of early Memorial Day ceremonies.


Many in the Northwoods do not have access to high speed broadband internet. That’s a critical gap in modern living, especially with the health emergency keeping people at home. State grants through the Public Service Commission have recently been awarded to some communities and counties to help remedy the situation.