Chippewa valley

  • Menomonie's golden oldies

    In a Wisconsin college town, antiques shops and an ornate theater stand fast amid pizza shops.

    In the western Wisconsin college town of Menomonie, shops and restaurants come and go. One building will stay for the ages: the Mabel Tainter Memorial Theater, built of sandstone blocks backed by brick. Lumber baron Andrew Tainter built it in memory of his daughter Mabel, who died at age 19 of a burst appendix. With two renovations, the town has polished its gloriously golden interior, fit for a Moorish princess.

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  • The first American Girl

    Before Laura, before Kit, there was Caddie Woodlawn on the Wisconsin frontier.

    She came of age during the Civil War and loved the outdoors, gathering hazelnuts in the woods, dodging rattlesnakes on the bluff and poling a log raft on the lake.

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  • In Caddie and Laura's back yard

    In western Wisconsin, a loop tour explores the homeland of two real-life heroines.

    When I was a child, I had a wild imagination. Anything would fire it up, especially tales of exploration: in dank, twisting caves; along rushing creeks shadowed by stone bluffs; on sun-kissed hilltops, with the world stretching out all around. And I loved the tales told by two real-life children's-book heroines: the resourceful tomboy Caddie Woodlawn, who roamed the wilderness of western Wisconsin during the Civil War, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, who relished life in the Big Woods above Lake Pepin before they became farmland. Western Wisconsin, it seems, has fired many young imaginations. One September, I took my own two children there, on a 185-mile tour with six spots that appeal particularly to kids.

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  • Exploring Chippewa Falls

    Leinenkugel brewery, the Old Abe bike trail and the Chippewa River draw tourists to this Wisconsin town.

    In Chippewa Falls, people owe a debt to two kinds of folks: the bubbas and the geeks. The first came to harvest the lumber and stayed to drink the beer, or so claims the brewery: "It takes a special beer to attract 2,500 men to a town with no women,'' says Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing, founded in 1867 and now the oldest business in town.

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  • A trail for Old Abe

    On Wisconsin's Chippewa River, a bald eagle paved the way for bicyclists.

    The can-do spirit of the 19th century can be felt everywhere along a 19"12;-mile stretch of the Chippewa River. Ezra Cornell bought up logging and mineral rights in the area, which became the logging center of the world in the 1880s, although the profits went to Ithaca, N.Y., where he'd founded Cornell University.

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  • Red Cedar ride 'n' glide

    Along a popular trail in western Wisconsin, a hardy tourist can take in the sights by water and by land.

    There are certain bicycle trails that inspire loyalty in those who ride them. For many, it's the trail that's closest to home. For others, it's the trail that runs by a really fine restaurant. And for some, it's the route with the most wildlife.

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  • A spin on the Kinni

    From the friendly college town of River Falls, it's a wild ride on water, then roads.

    On Wisconsin's Kinnickinnic River, paddling is a lot like playing pinball — except your boat is the ball.

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  • Island of happy days

    At Stout's Lodge, guests gain entree into a less hurried era.

    At the turn of the last century, as Wisconsin's pineries were vanishing into sawmills, the vast fortunes they produced fell to the heirs of the Knapp, Stout lumber company. Operating in the Red Cedar River valley, it was for a time the largest in the world, and Menomonie was the company town. The heirs gave it schools, churches, an auditorium; James Stout, son of the president, endowed the institute that became the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

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