A Northwoods Moment In History

Every Wednesday at 6:45 a.m., 8:45 a.m., and 5:45 p.m., we turn back the clock on WXPR with local historian Gary Entz to find out what life in the Northwoods used to be like. This is part of a new initiative by WXPR to tell the history and culture of northern Wisconsin.

You can keep track of A Northwoods Moment in History and all of WXPR's local features on the WXPR Local Features podcast, wherever you get your podcasts.

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David Collins, a student fulfilling a writing assignment in Ocie Kilgus’s English Comp class at Nicolet College, was curious about a bank robbery that took place in Laona during the 1950s. As it turns out, the robbery had an unusual twist. 

In past the Oneida County Fair brought in some of the biggest names in Country & Western music. These acts always drew the biggest crowds for the fair, but one year a particular singer brought her very own Rodeo to perform with her. Historian Gary Entz has the story.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Many young people today cannot name a Supreme Court Justice or identify their own Congressional Representative. Voter participation is lower in the U.S. than in any other Western Democracy. It was not always this way, and in the past Rhinelander made certain its young people were aware of their civic responsibilities. Historian Gary Entz has the story.

Pioneer Edward Walsh

Sep 2, 2020
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There are many stories of early Northwoods Pioneers. Most of us recall the lumbermen as being the first, but the tourist industry developed simultaneous to the logging industry, and early resort builders like Edward Walsh were key in the economic development of the Northwoods. Historian Gary Entz has the story.

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The Lac du Flambeau band of Lake Superior Chippewa have been an important part of Northwoods cultural history since the early eighteenth century. However, the tribe has not always been treated with the respect it has earned, and the era of allotment is a particularly painful memory. Historian Gary Entz has the story.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Most Rhinelander citizens take the Davenport Street Bridge for granted. It is simply something we pass over on our way into town. But the current bridge is not the first structure to span the river, and the first bridge in that location met with a tragic end. Historian Gary Entz has the story.

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World heavyweight boxing is not a sport often associated with the Northwoods. In the earliest years, a few lumberjacks participated in boxing. Some went on to become professionals, but to have the World Heavyweight Champion put on an exhibition bout in Rhinelander would be unheard of. Or would it? Historian Gary Entz has the story.

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For over a year, 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 towns of Phelps, St. Germain, Sayner, and Lake Tomahawk got their names.

In this week’s installment, we hear how the town of Woodboro got its name.

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Enjoying a good movie has been a popular pastime in the Northwoods for many decades. Today many film goers take engaging music and dialog for granted. It was not always that way, and the transition from silent to sound films is worth remembering. Historian Gary Entz has the story.

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Many geographic regions, towns, and counties in the Northwoods have interesting name origins, but few are as intriguing as Langlade County. Historian Gary Entz has the story.

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Social deviance describes an action or behavior that violates societal norms. Deviant behavior that violates established codes of conduct often lands the offender in trouble, as happened with one Northwoods transient. Historian Gary Entz has the story.

Scouting is an important part of many young peoples’ lives. The Northwoods is a natural setting for learning the ethical and environmental lessons scouting teaches, but there is a nautical branch of scouting that had early roots in the Northwoods. Historian Gary Entz has the story.

NMIH: The Northlands Fur And Packing Company

Jun 24, 2020
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Rabbit breeding season starts in early spring and continues through the summer. Lots of bunnies start showing up on lawns and gardens at this time of year. Some Northwoods residents look at them as pests, but others see opportunity. Historian Gary Entz has the story:

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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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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.

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