Fall on the marsh

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Fall Excursion To Old World Wisconsin


It's funny how it happens.  September comes around, and we think of all the things we wanted to do during the summer months but didn't.  My daughters' family (especially her son Ewan) have wanted to visit Old World Wisconsin for quite some time.  Old World Wisconsin is located in the Kettle Moraine State forest near Eagle, Wisconsin.  Fall is a great time to go because the admission tickets are discounted, and the crowds are diminished.  They are only open on weekends September to the middle of October.  Anyone who knows me or has read this blog has been introduced to my youngest grandson Ewan.  He is interested in all things old.  Maybe that's why he shows so much love to his grandparents.  He even has his own YouTube channel called Old Time Skills. Visiting Old World Wisconsin was a no-brainer for him.  I haven't been there for almost 40 years.  I really wanted to return after reading the book Old World Murders by Kathleen Ernst.  The story takes place at Old World Wisconsin and the Eagle, Wisconsin area.  Some things have changed and improved over the years, but very old things that were old then are still old.  There are a few upgrades but overall the layout is the same.  They have trams instead of wagons to move people from village to village.  They have upgraded and improved the gardens and fencing while still keeping in the period.  There are a few new buildings being created.  One is a tap house and brewing complex.  A 115 year old tavern building was donated and is being moved to the site along with the fixtures.  I'm not sure when that will be opened.

After we got our tickets, we started up the first path we saw.  The first building was a Wheelmen's Club.  They were letting people ride the big old fashioned bikes, so Ewan took his turn.  It was a little chilly at first and we bundled up, but soon it became a perfect temperature for a fall day.  No mosquitoes either.


There were some old fashioned yard games to play.  The rolling hoop was very popular.  They could play catch or race across the grass rolling the hoop as fast as possible.

 
Walking down the the gravel road gave the effect of how it was with no paved roads or traffic.   We decided to take a path less traveled and headed off trail toward the Scandinavian section.
 


 
There were Finnish, Danish and Norwegian homesteads in this area.  They are quite a distance apart so we definitely got our steps in.  The houses were quite similar in their construction.  Since we are of Danish heritage, we spent a little extra time at the Danish homestead.  My son in law made a joke about being "Dane-ish" and not full blooded Danes.  I guess he is right but 23 & Me told me I am 33.6% Danish.



The gardens were almost harvested but they still had herbs, lavender and some strawberry plants.  The next house along the path was the 1860's Norwegian Immigrant farm.  They had beautiful sheep.  This home had a costumed staff member who answered questions about the building and instructed us on sheep shearing, how to card the wool and demonstrated the spinning wheel.  

After the sheep are sheared, the dirty wool is washed and carded to make the fibers long to get them ready for spinning.  A little like combing hair.



The spun wool is then dyed with natural dyes and hung outside to dry.  It is now ready to knit, crochet or weave.

 
As we worked our way to all three of the villages, we enjoyed what each of them had to offer.  There were fancy fences from the Hessian and Pomeranian houses, farm animals and interesting buildings.
 


This Polish house had very interesting construction and the honoring of their strong religion beliefs..
 


It was a beautiful fall day, and I am so grateful to my family for including me.  Ewan got a first hand look at what it was like to live as an early immigrant in Wisconsin.  Part of it was appealing imagining a life away from the rat race of today.  That is where it ends. Posing for a picture is one thing, but imagine having to walk a hundred yards to the privy in a blizzard without any Charmin. 

 
Or having to tend to the animals in hot humid conditions with the flies and smell.  Even when human food was scarce, the animals had to be fed.
 

The day ended with Ewan being able to make an item in the leather shop.  A lot of memories were made.


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