Three Days in Wisconsin
(Finding Some Unusual Things!!)
August 3-6, 2012
Day 2 - Jurustic Park, Chain Saw Totem Forest, Hodag and a giant badger
by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz
Aug 5, 2012: We were up bright and early in Wassau, WI, ready to pursue what promised to be an exciting and fun day...but a really long one. This day included my planned highlight of the trip...a visit to the famed Jurustic Park in Marshfield, WI. This place is a bit complicated to get to, but VERY well worth the drive. From Wassau, we headed west on State Highway 29, which we followed all the way to State Highway 97 which we took all the way into Stratford. From there we went west again on State Highway 153 until we got to County Rd E. From there we went South again.
Along the way, there is always plenty to see...barns, farmland, strange places...here are a few of the scenes along the way to Jurustic Park
An old bus in the trees, Killdeer Rd (must be some good roadkill!!), a church steeple beyond the corn fields, and an old barn (I love old barns)
We continued south after crossing over County Rd C. Soon thereafter the road made a fairly sharp Left and then veered to the Right again. After crossing over a small river, we eventually came to Sugar Bush Lane on the right. This is a loop road, though we took the second entry to it. Either one will get you there and you will definitely see the sculptures off to your right.
Jurustic Park is the brainchild of former attorney Clyde Wynia, who calls himself a paleontologist. In reality, he has taken to doing metal work and welding of a hundreds of critters, which, he claims (in his paleontologist hat), were many of the "extinct creatures that inhabited the large McMillan Marsh near Marshfield during the Iron Age." He claims to have discovered these creatures and has worked to get them back together. Wisconsin Public Television has a wonderful transcript from an interview they did with him in April 2011...its a good read.
Jurustic Park Welcome Sign...Sumoflam with "Paleontologist" Clyde Wynia...learning about one of his many discoveries
Needless to say, I took well over 100 photos of the work there. It was amazing...I will have a special edition on my Less Beaten Paths Blog just about this place. In the meantime, here are a few fun photos of the place.
The Mailbox..you can't miss it. No smoking sign "The Butt Stops Here"
L-R: An attorney, a Dragon and a Hobbit giving a thumbs up.
Two views of the centerpiece -- a giant 18 foot tall dragon
"Designed as an Army Dragon, but now a Navel Dragon--see outie on belly?"
"Down Payment on a Horse" and a befuddled frog
A guitar strumming frog and a "Petuna" Planter
Some toothy grins...
Tools of the trade
Clyde Wynia - Paleontologist founder of Jurustic Park
Jurustic Park, Marshfield, WI
While we were at Jurustic Park, there was a group of 50 somthings that pulled up in their Corvettes, all parked in his very small parking lot. Was fun to see my classy car parked alongside all of the Vettes...
Mine is the car that is NOT a Corvette!!
After about an hour and half long visit being serenaded by Clyde and his marvelous stories and antics, it was time to get back on the road again. We again headed northwest towards Colby, WI. Yes, THAT Colby, famous for Colby cheddar. We were all excited to get there and get some fresh cheese, and hopefully, fresh squeaky cheese curds. We did make it to Colby, but alas, there are no longer any cheese factories there and you cannot get fresh Colby cheddar in town (or so we were told....). But the water tower makes you think you'll get some....
"Original" Home of Colby Cheese...none there any longer
After filling up with gas, we found some packaged cheese from a factory 12 miles away. That would have to do <sigh>. We then continued on our merry way north on State Highway 13 to our next unusual destination near Medford, WI. Once in Medford we had to get on Highway 64 and head west, which we took all the way to County High E. From there we made a right turn (North) and followed it all the way to County Highway M. We then made a left turn at County Highway M (West).
I must note that along the way we saw some interesting things....
Fuzzy's General Store and Bait Shop, A Bathtub road marker and an Amish Road Sign....
We continued past Mondeux Dr (on the left) and County E (on the right) and proceeded about another mile. The next sight was visible as could be on the left, just before Forest Rd and the entrance to the Chequamegon National Forest. So, what were we looking for in this wooded area of Wisconsin? Nothing other than the forest of Chain Saw Totem Poles!!
The unique chainsaw mailbox sits at the entrance to Gordy Lekies Chainsaw Totem Pole Forest
A guy by the name of "Chainsaw Gordy" Lekies created this unusual piece of artwork and chainsaw collection as early as 2007. Gordy is a timber harvester by trade in the Medford area. He has over 400 chainsaws collected and they are all now on display in poles on his property next to Highway M.
Over 20 telephone polls are now displaying hundreds of old chainsaws
There is still a pile of them waiting for a telephone pole home...the guy on the right is some of Gordy's chain saw art
We next proceeded back east on County Highway M towards the "Cranberry Trail" in hopes of seeing a real Cranberry Bog and maybe getting some Cranberry goodies (Cranberry Cheese???). We continued along Highway M until we hit Forks Rd., turned left and headed north, which eventually got us to the Cranberry Trail. My disappointment was that there were no promotional signs or anything, so we just drove up and down the road until we found what we were looking for.
We did find the Cranberry Trail, some of which turns into a dirt road, as shown above.
Finally found the Copper River Cranberry Company facility, along with a non-descript bog behind it.
No Cranberries and Copper River was closed (it was a Sunday mind you)
Though the Cranberry Trail was a disappointment, we still had plenty to do. We proceeded towards our next main stop, Rhinelander, WI. Along the way up US 51, we found more novelties and even found a Tomahawk...that's the name of a town.
The Butt Hutt BBQ, a Giant Moose at Road Lake Pub and Grill (though not nearly as the big Moose in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan),
Tomahawk (famous for the Tomahawk Fall Ride) and The Wilderness Pole sculpture in downtown Tomahawk.
This wood carving, standing in the middle of a boulevard, depicts a northwoodsy scene involving bears, fish, eagles and a loon.
We continued North on US 51 until we hit US 8 and then headed east toward Rhinelander, also known as the "Heart of Hodag Country." What, pray tell, is a Hodag? There is a great unique writeup HERE. According to the Rhinelander website, the Hodag is a mysterious woodland creature that makes its home in the Rhinelander Area.
Why the Hodag is only found in the Rhinelander Area is not certain. However, many people believe that it is the clean lakes, dense forests and incredible natural beauty that ties the Hodag to the Rhinelander Area. The photos below are of the Hodag statue in front of the Chamber of Commerce:
The famous Hodag of Rhinelander, WI
From Rhinelander we continued on US 8 towards Monico. Along the way we found more fun stuff...totally by happenstance:
Lo and behold...a Graffiti Trailer, a HUGE painted Rock and George Lake
In Monico we visited the "Rhinelapus" statue, which appears to be an attempt to play on the fame of the Hodag. It was all fenced in and difficult to get a photo. It is like a huge three-clawed tree monster. In any case, it was not nearly as impressive to me as the Hodag.
From Monico we headed south on US 45 as we worked on winding up our long eventful day. Soon we came upon the small burg of Birnamwood, WI. There really is not much there, but we did come across what appears to be the world's largest Badger Statue, ironically greets you at the Northern Exposure Strip Club. Forget the club...but don't forget the badger. You can read the whole story on Roadside America HERE. We also saw Chet & Emil's with a large Chicken in town.
Giant Badger of Birnamwood...Chet & Emil's Broaster Chicken
Perhaps our biggest surprise came as we approached Wittenberg, WI...a huge expansive field of sunflowers in full bloom. These were absolutely amazing and, as the sun was heading down, the shadows were awesome. I took about 50 photos. Here are a few:
To be honest, it is the wonderful surprises like these that make back road traveling so much fun. This sunflower field reminded me of a time in Ontario when I came across an expansive tulip field near Woodstock (see the photos on this page)
More barns on the road towards Seymour, WI
Our final stop of the day before heading into Green Bay for the evening, was in Seymour, purported home of the hamburger.
Statue of Charles Nagreen (1870-1951), who put ground beef patties in a bun and began calling them Hamburgers back in 1885.
Notice the Hamburger Planters!! Click on his name or photo to read the entire story.
After learning about the beefy hamburger, we had one last surprise waiting for us on the road to Green Bay. Not cheese, not Packers...but Buffalo... We saw these buffalo on State Highway 54 heading east out of Seymour. Apparently owned by Maass Farms, these buffalo (or bison) are destined for the food chain. But, they still looked majestic, even in their pens.
Maass Farms Bison near Seymour, WI
It was a long day and we finally made it into the Quality Inn in Green Bay...tired yet fulfilled from a fun day of back road adventures.
Wisconsin Road Trip - Day 1: Beef, Cheese, Mustard and a Grumpy Troll
Wisconsin Road Trip - Day 3: Green Bay, Lambeau Field and Door County Peninsula
Some roadside guidance provided by......
See more of Sumoflam's Trip Journals
Visit Sumoflam's "Less Beaten Paths" blog for more interesting places