A Northwoods Moment in History

Wisconsin Historical Society

The town of Hazelhurst, like so many others in the Northwoods, got its start through the logging industry. 

But unlike other Northwoods communities with origins in logging, Hazelhurst’s ties to the Yawkey Lumber Company gave it a slightly different trajectory.

It was a path that shapes the community to this day.  

Wisconsin Historical Society

Nicolet is a familiar name in the Northwoods. There are many small businesses that carry the name, a college, and perhaps most important, a National Forest.  Most Northwoods residents have heard of Jean Nicolet, but how many know who he really was? 

Wisconsin Historical Society

Another Fourth of July holiday has come and gone.  It was a happy experience for almost everyone in the Northwoods.  A few people, though, yearn for the good old days when more potent fireworks were available. But did that make the holiday any better?  Historian Gary Entz looks back at early earlier Fourth of July celebrations.

Rhinelander's Girl Scouts

Jun 30, 2021
Wisconsin Historical Society

Summer is camping season, and Summer Camps in the Northwoods are guiding young people to embrace an appreciation for the outdoors.  One of the more storied camps in the area is Camp Birchrock, which was founded by the local Girl Scouts.  How the Girl Scouts and Camp Birchrock came to be is worth remembering.  

Wisconsin Historical Society

Indigenous people have made significant contributions to every war the United States has ever fought.  In twentieth-century conflicts, we often hear about the heroism of individuals like Ira Hayes, or of groups like the code talkers.  What we rarely hear about are contributions from indigenous people on the home front. 

Wikipedia Public Domain

Summer is baseball season, and many Northwoods residents enjoy playing the game in local leagues or watching professionals on television.  A few of those professional players have found the Northwoods equally appealing, and more than one has called the town of Three Lakes home.  One of them was first baseman Fred Luderus.  

Wisconsin Historical Society

One of the more colorful aspects of Northwoods history is that 1930s-era gangsters such as Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson, and John Dillinger spent time in the region.  But they were just visitors.  One famous gangster from that era found the Northwoods so appealing that he made it his permanent home. 

Courtesy of Thomas Dault

An equilibrist is an acrobat who performs daring feats of uncanny balance.  This includes tightrope walkers, trapeze artists, tumblers, or any sort of skilled human balancing act.  A daredevil is a recklessly and often ostentatiously daring person.  When the two are combined you get Rhinelander’s own Daredevil Dault. 

Wikipedia Public Domain

Memorial Day was established to honor those who have died in American wars.  There are many images that people look to when remembering those who served, but few images are more iconic than the Marine Corps War Memorial that depicts the flag raising at Iwo Jima in 1945.  For many years it was thought an Antigo native was part of that photo, but was he? 

Wisconsin Historical Society

Many people in the Northwoods have gotten vaccinated against Covid-19, but a significant minority continues to resist vaccination.  The reasoning against vaccination usually revolves around uncertainty for health and safety, and for reasons of civil liberties.  These are old arguments, and not so different as those used during the smallpox epidemic. 

Wisconsin Historical Society

History can be a challenging undertaking.  To uncover evidence, a historian must be part journalist and part detective. But when historical recollections devolve into myth the historian must become a revisionist and upset local legends to tell a story accurately.  Such is the case of Willie Dickinson and Old Man Mudge in Florence. 

Wikipedia Public Domain

Cold War maneuvering between the United States and the Soviet Union and the cloak and dagger intrigue of American spycraft is about as far removed from the serenity of the Northwoods as one can get.  Nevertheless, during the early days of the Cold War, a CIA program known as MK-Ultra placed one Northwoods native into the middle of the worst of the conspiracies. 

Wisconsin Historical Society

Most of us give little thought to the trash we produce, except perhaps when it is time to take the garbage bucket to the curb for the weekly collection.  Northwoods residents are fortunate to have an efficient system of trash collection and recycling.  Nevertheless, weekly trash pickup is a recent luxury, and in the past things were quite different.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Every year the town of Crandon celebrates Kentuck Days. This local holiday honors lumber camp workers from Kentucky who settled in the area at the turn of the century. But Crandon was not founded by anyone from Kentucky. Rather, Crandon was founded by Samuel Shaw, who traces his heritage back to Scotland.  

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.  

Pages