Curious North

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

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.

This is where you can submit your own questions:

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,

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.

Pete Markham / pmarkham on Flickr

This week’s Wildlife Matters springs from a Curious North question.

Kaye Jaeger from the town of Crescent asks: We love the loons on our lake. We also love the eagle that flies over regularly. Is there anything we can do to prevent the eagle from eating the baby loons?

To respond to Kaye's question, the Masked Biologist contemplates the interactions of two charismatic Northwoods wildlife species: bald eagles and loons.

Since March, we've been getting questions in as part of our Curious North series.

Jaron Childs from Tomahawk recently asked: What signs can we look for to help assess the health of a lake, river, or forest in northern Wisconsin?

The Masked Biologist answers his question for this week's Wildlife Matters.

What follows is a very brief answer to a very complex question about how to evaluate habitat health.

Jim Skibo

We continue our We Live Up Here series this week with a story about an ambitious DIY project that has been 30 years in the making.

The story comes in response to a listener question to our Curious North series. Dennis Marquardt from Tomahawk asks: What is up with the castle on Killarney Lake?

Jim Skibo has the story.


This week’s A Northwoods Moment in History is in response to two WXPR listeners who submitted questions to our new Curious North series.

An anonymous listener from Lake Tomahawk asked: Did the French and British occupy Wisconsin? What happened in the war of 1812 in the state?

In addition, Jane Nicholson from Manitowish Waters asked: What were the first initiatives of the US government in our area? Who was sent here and for what purposes/initiatives?


Since March, we've been collecting your questions for a new series at WXPR called Curious North. Today we're answering one of those questions as part of our We Live Up Here series.

Melissa Nieman in Tomahawk recently asked: Can we agree on a pronunciation of the word sauna?!

Mackenzie Martin talked to two linguistic researchers to try and figure out the answer.


Black bears are easily one of our most intriguing wildlife species up here.

A few weeks back an anonymous listener from the Rhinelander area submitted a question to our Curious North series: What time of year do bears come out of hibernation?

In this week's episode of Wildlife Matters, the Masked Biologist answers that question and more, as he discusses some of what is going on in the life of a bear as it emerges from winter.


Throughout the last year, our local historian Gary Entz has uncovered why many towns in the Northwoods are named what they are.

Some previous installments of A Northwoods Moment in History have included how the communities of Gagen, Phelps, St. Germain, Sayner, and Rhinelander got their names.

What Are Snow Fleas?

Mar 27, 2019
Wikimedia Commons Plantman2

We're continuing our Curious North series today with a listener question about something you may or may not have heard of.

An anonymous listener in the Rhinelander area recently asked: What are snow fleas? Where do they live and what do they eat?

Ken Krall relayed the questioned to P.J.Liesch. Here's their conversation...

"I'm P.J. Liesch, (UW) Extension emtomologist and Director of the UW-Madison insect diagnostic lab. "


Listeners have been sending WXPR questions to ask of area experts so we can report back to you. It's part of our Curious North project.

Several questions came in regarding weather, so we asked WJFW TV Chief  Meteorologist Geoff Weller to answer them. First question: when are the meteorological seasons?