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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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.

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.

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:

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:

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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.

With many people currently out of work, some economists are comparing current unemployment levels with that of the Great Depression years. So far, however, the social safety net has held, and suffering is not yet at 1930s levels. Historian Gary Entz has the story of Rhinelander’s Hoovervilles.

Wisconsin Historical Society

James Randi is one of the most famous living magicians in the United States today. In his late career he has become famous for debunking fraudulent paranormal claims, but in his youth, he was an escape artist. Back in 1959, the Amazing Randi thrilled Northwoods residents with his feats of daring. Historian Gary Entz has the story in this weeks Northwoods Moment in History.

Wisconsin Historical Society

The current Covid-19 crisis is a difficult experience for everyone, but not the first time something like this has happened. The Influenza Epidemic that started in 1918 and lasted into 1920 can be instructive for what is going on now. Historian Gary Entz has the story.

Muscular Christianity is a philosophical interpretation of Christianity that centers on the moral and physical beauty of athleticism. It has had many proponents over the years, but few as colorful as the Reverend Frederick Wedge. Historian Gary Entz has the story.

Wisconsin Historical Society

The issue of contaminated water is an ongoing topic of concern in the city of Rhinelander, but it isn’t a new problem. Historian Gary Entz tells the story of contamination issues in the past and how Rhinelander came to get its water from wells.

Wisconsin Historical Society

The issue of nuclear waste generated by power plants in the United States always seems to be somebody else’s problem.  In this week’s Northwoods Moment in History, Gary Entz reminds us how it wasn’t so long ago that it could have been a problem for the Northwoods and could be again in the future.

Baths For Lumberjacks

Mar 11, 2020
Wisconsin Historical Society

The ability to go on strike for better working conditions is a valuable tool, especially for industry workers in nineteenth century America. The question is, what is or isn’t worth going on strike for. Gary Entz tells the story of workers in a logging camp resisting new technologies.

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In this week’s Northwoods Moment in History, Gary Entz tells the story of a Northwoods soldier who declined recognition or honors for his selfless act, but is recognized today.

Image from the Wisconsin Historical Society

The high cost of living and how much of our income is devoted to purchasing the necessities of life weighs heavily on the minds of many people. In this week's Northwoods Moment in History, Gary Entz looks back at how the cost of living has fluctuated over time.

Image by the Wisconsin Historical Society

Ice fishing is hardly controversial today, but in decades past there was a real question about whether it should even be allowed in the Northwoods. Here’s Gary Entz with this week’s Northwoods Moment in History.