Curious North

Are you curious to know more about our region, its people and its culture?

Our new project Curious North invites you to take part in the stories we cover. It’s guided by you, our listeners, and your curiosity about our region – from Central Wisconsin to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Here's how it works: You ask a question and then we investigate and share our findings. The questions can be big or small.

Keep scrolling to see recent questions we've received, to submit your own questions, and see what questions we've answered so far.

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This is where you can submit your own questions:

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Lastly, don't forget to check out the questions we've already answered!

Courtesy of UW-Madison Center for Limnology

If you’re a fisherman in the Northwoods, you’re well aware of the decline in walleye populations over the last few years.

Why is this happening, though? And is there a way to reverse the trend? 

Mackenzie Martin / WXPR

The Crescent Town Spring located at 3171 S River Road is no longer a recommended source of drinking water, according to a press release from the Oneida County Health Department Monday. Many locals have gotten their drinking water from the spring for decades.

Mackenzie Martin / WXPR

There are several Masonic Lodges of Freemasons here in the Northwoods, but the network has always had an air of mystery.

Recently we received a Curious North question asking us to investigate the history of local Masonic Temples, which led us to wonder… what is the role of a Masonic Temple in a community?

Mackenzie Martin headed to the Rhinelander Masonic Temple and the former Wausau Masonic Temple to find out.

Library of Congress

We're spending today and tomorrow looking at some aspects of the historical influence of mining in the Upper Peninsula, specifically in the Ironwood area.

Today we'll be answering a listener question. Tomorrow, we'll be remembering Andrew Carnegie and his influence in Ironwood ahead of the 100th anniversary of his death. (Listen to Part Two about the significance of Andrew Carnegie in the Ironwood area here.)

Max Pixel

Continuing his way through a few of your wildlife-related Curious North questions, the Masked Biologist talks about hand feeding birds – and other related thoughts – in this week’s Wildlife Matters.

In a curious north question from a few months back, Alice asked the question “Does everyone up North feed birds from their hands?”

During WXPR's Curious North road trip in June, Shane B. asked us this question at our stop in Crandon: There was an X-Files episode in the 1st season that was in Townsend, WI. Was it actually filmed here?

For this week's A Northwoods Moment in History, Gary Entz answers Shane's question and also tells us about a real UFO incident that occurred in the Northwoods back in 1961.

Pixabay.com

Chemicals that are suspected of health problems have been found in Rhinelander's water, but the offending well has been shut down and the city water has since tested free of the chemicals. But a popular water spring is still be tested to see if it's affected.

oneearthimages (pixabay.com)

For this week’s Wildlife Matters, the Masked Biologist tackles another Curious North question, about some of Wisconsin’s largest migratory birds—swans and cranes.

This is another curious north question that captured my interest, so I thought I would spend some time talking about some of our area’s less common migratory birds. Rosemary Resch asked “Do swans, sandhill cranes and whooping cranes summer anywhere in Wisconsin or are they primarily migratory?”

Grantus4504/Wikimedia Commons

Springtime woodpecker worries are the focus of this week’s Wildlife Matters, as the Masked Biologist tackles another Curious North question from one of our listeners.

I get questions or concerns pretty frequently about woodpeckers hurting or killing trees, so when I saw this Curious North question, I thought I would try to address Jane Trotter’s concerns. She asks “A Hairy Woodpecker is busily working on a Hemlock tree right outside our bedroom window. The Hemlock appears to be alive and well....so far. Will Hairy’s morning percussions hurt the tree?”

Gary Entz / WXPR Public Radio

This week's A Northwoods Moment in History comes from a Curious North question.

Bob Nussbaum from Rhinelander asks: Why, and when, did the famous smokestacks of Rhinelander Paper, get shortened, so that the word "Glassine," the description of the butcher paper that changed the world, lost its "G"?

To answer Bob's question, here's Gary Entz.

Photo by Warren Lynn. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

In this week’s Wildlife Matters, the Masked Biologist tackles one of WXPR’s Curious North questions.

Emily DiGiorgio from Ironwood, MI, asks: How can we help accommodate wildlife in our backyards without disturbing our home aesthetic?

To answer Emily's question, here's the Masked Biologist.

Mackenzie Martin / WXPR Public Radio

AUGUST 19, 2019 IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Oneida County Health Department does not recommend drinking from the Crescent Spring because the test for PFAS came back as positive. More information can be found in a report here from WXPR's Mackenzie Martin.

Wisconsin Historical Society, Image ID: 42850, wisconsinhistory.org

This week's A Northwoods Moment in History comes from a question to our Curious North series.

Patty Fitzpatrick from Rhinelander recently asked: Is it true that there was a POW camp in Rhinelander during World War II?"

To answer Patty's question, here's Gary Entz for this week's A Northwoods Moment in History.

LIFE Magazine

Years ago Dave Daniels from Rhinelander heard of a research project that really interested him, but he never heard what came out of the project so he sent a question to WXPR’s Curious North series asking us to look into it: What ever became of the Little Rock Lake Acid Rain research project conducted by water scientists at the Trout Lake research station near Boulder Junction?

U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / Wikimedia Commons

Tamarack trees, like many of us, could live anywhere in Wisconsin but prefer the Northwoods.

Recently a listener from Harshaw submitted this question to our Curious North series: What's up with the tamarack trees? They seem to be dying. Is it the rising water levels, or something else?

In today’s Wildlife Matters the Masked Biologist sheds some light on what might be causing tamarack tree mortality.

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