|High Cliff State Park Open House (Free Day)
Come visit High Cliff State Park for free and have fun with the whole famil... <read more>
A weekend long festival with many activities. City-wide rummage sales Thur... <read more>
|Chilton Summer Festival
This four-day festival with city-wide rummage sales, street dance, kid's ga... <read more>
Museums & Markers
Places to Visit
Christmas Tree Display/Holiday Open House
PO Box 35
An old Railroad Express cart used in Brillion will be festively trimmed and displayed on the front lawn of the Historical Society’s Historic House on St. Frances Street in Brillion. Also featured will be a new lime kiln panorama and an old Zander Press printing press. A new genealogy center is being developed as well. Come and enjoy the many new displays! Displayed the two weekends before Thanksgiving from 10 am to 4 pm. Sponsored by the Brillion Historical Society. Contact Carol at (920) 756-3139 for further information.
Classic Auto and Motorcycle
Visit the “Auto & Speed” section of this web site.
Kiel Founders Day Celebration
Held annually at the Kiel Historical Society House on Fremont Street in Kiel. Kiel was founded by Henry F. Belitz in the spring of 1854. For more information about the celebration contact Fay Konen at (920) 894-2085.
R.S. Vintage Steel Antique Steam & Gas Engine Show
View miniature antique farm equipment working on site. Rock crushing, threshing, log-sawing, blacksmithing, and more. Admission $2, children under 12 free. The show is open from 10 am to 6 pm. Held every September in Calumetville at Vintage Steel which is located at W2593 Cty Q (off Hwy 151).
Steam Engine Show
Features antique machinery, including tractors, plows, threshers, feed mills, and cutters. Also a model steam engine display and toy show, children's pedal tractor pull, and refreshments. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Steam Antique Engine Club. Held every August at the Calumet County Fairgrounds.
Originally spelled "Chalumet", Calumet County derived its name from a Menominee Indian Village lying on the east shore of Lake Winnebago. The name means 'peace' and signifies the Indian Pipe of Peace. A county newspaper editor first adopted “We Extend the Calumet to All Mankind” as the County’s official slogan nearly a century ago. That slogan has remained in use to present day. The Indians believed that the smoke from the Peace Pipes of the resident Menominees ascended to the Great Spirit from within the peaceful border of the County. Traces of prehistoric mound builders can be found today as evidence of their earlier occupation.
In 1836 the Brothertown and Stockbridge Indian Reservations established themselves in the area. In 1839, Congress granted the Brothertown Indians rights of citizenship. In 1843, the Stockbridge Indians received similar recognition. With this citizenship the lakeshore area began to develop with small farms and communities.
The building of the Military Road between Green Bay and Prairie du Chien around 1840 brought soldiers and workmen to the area. Eventually more settlers arrived; however, rather than settle along the lake, settlements developed along the Manitowoc River (now the City of Chilton) and in areas where the railroad established. All major railroad building in the county was completed by 1873.
The County Seat, originally located in Stockbridge, was moved to Chilton in 1856. The County’s population at the time of incorporation was 275. By 1850, it had risen to 1,753. By the 1860 census, it had grown to 7,895. Notwithstanding the Civil War, the population continued to grow. In 1870, it had risen to 12,335. Despite poor wheat yields due to disease and drought, the population increased to 16,631 in 1880 where it remained until the early 1960’s. Explanations for this lack of growth include the outward migration of the wheat farmers, and the lack of urban centers. The County maintained a farming and manufacturing economy that was heavily reliant upon agriculture. After World War II, people began to migrate from the major city centers and the rural atmosphere became more appealing once more.
From the railroad in Hilbert, to the brickyard in Stockbridge (located at Calumet County Park), the County has many reminders of its past. We hope you take the time to visit the places listed on this web site. We think you’ll find Calumet rich with historical treasures!
Lake Winnebago History
Until the early 1800’s, Lake Winnebago was marshy and filled with acres of wild rice. In 1850, the milling industry began constructing temporary dams on the Fox River and used water power to turn saw mills and flour mills. These dams raised the water level in Lake Winnebago by two feet, flooding 50,000 acres of marshy land and rice beds on the south and southwest sides of the lake.
In 1872, the Army Corps of Engineers took over the dams and canals. By 1884, the Corps had completed a system of 17 locks and dams on the Lower Fox River. The paper industry thrived and the Winnebago system became connected to the Great Lakes for commercial shipping.
In the early 1890’s, Stockbridge Harbor was one of the main ports on Lake Winnebago’s east shore. Steam barges and stern-wheelers (driven by paddle wheels) bustled in and out of the harbor, shipping coal, salt, and lumber in and grain and sugar beets out. At that time, Stockbridge Harbor was one of the largest grain buying centers in the state. Calumet County residents would haul grain by horse-drawn wagon from as far as New Holstein and Kiel to be loaded onto boats at Stockbridge Harbor.
Lake Winnebago proved equally useful for commerce in the winter months. Bricks made by the Cook & Brown Lime Co. at the present day Calumet County Park were hauled across the ice-covered lake to Oshkosh by horse-drawn sleigh. Farmers made frequent trips across the ice, hauling their own grain to Oshkosh by bobsled to be ground into flour. Christmas trees stuck into the ice marked the way from Stockbridge, Quinney, and Brothertown to Oshkosh, guiding these winter travelers. This practice is still used today to mark plowed fishing roads during the ice-fishing season.
Pleasure boating on Lake Winnebago began in the early 1900’s. For 10 cents a ticket, water enthusiasts could go on “excursions” on large passenger boats such as the Mayflower, the Thistle, and the Leander Choate. The boats picked up passengers in Pipe, Brothertown, and Stockbridge and took them to Appleton to Oshkosh for shopping and dining trips. Orchestras and bands serenaded passengers as they sipped soda or beer and enjoyed the ride. The last excursion left Stockbridge in August of 1917.
By the 1930’s, lake-based commerce was dwindling as highways and trucking arose to take its place. Automobiles and highways brought city dwellers to Lake Winnebago, seeking summer homes on the lakeshore. Cottages and year-round homes were constructed along the lake. Boat traffic experienced a resurgence as homeowners began to buy canoes, row boats, and eventually powerboats of their own. The Fox River Locks were closed in the 1980’s because of the lack of commercial traffic. However, a plan to restore the locks was recently approved, so the connection between Lake Winnebago and the Great Lakes will soon be re-established. Today, the lake bustles with activity year round, including fishing tournaments, powerboat rallies, and the ever-popular sturgeon spearing season each February.
Places to Visit
A monument and wayside at the intersection of Hwys 151 and 55 pay tribute to the first Indians to become United States citizens -- the Brothertowns. Located north of the small Town of Brothertown you’ll find a bit of history and a beautiful resting spot with a panoramic view of Lake Winnebago.
Calumet County Park Historical Features
N6150 Cty Hwy EE
Located along the east shore of Lake Winnebago near the county’s fishing villages, Calumet County Park contains historic Indian effigy mounds, and, once was the sight of a brickyard built shortly after the Civil War. The mounds were built by a branch of prehistoric Woodland Indians who lived in the region from 500 B.C to 1000 A.D. For more information on the mounds and other features, contact park staff.
For more information on the park itself, see the "Parks” page of this website.
Chief Red Bird
N7630 State Park Road
In the 1820’s white settlements were quickly growing in Green Bay and Prairie du Chein. As development occurred, the Winnebago Indians saw their hunting grounds disappearing and their villages destroyed. Close to Prairie du Chein was a friendly Indian village known as Wanick Choute, home of the Red Bird. In 1827 Red Bird received word that members of an ally tribe were murdered by whites at a fort. The village believed the story and demanded vengeance. Red Bird was sent to “take meat” and retaliate. Not wanting to appear a coward, Red Bird decided he would travel the area and proclaim he could find no meat. He did, only to be taunted and named a coward. Red Bird then returned, with others from his village, and attacked the home of a friendly white man he often had visited. The attack resulted in the scalping of three whites and Red bird fulfilling his duty of revenge. Knowing the whites would likewise retaliate; Red Bird decided to prevent further bloodshed and voluntarily surrendered. He was placed in prison where he refused to eat and eventually died almost six months later. The Red Bird monument can be seen looking over Lake Winnebago on the upper ledge of High Cliff State Park.
For more information on the park itself, see the “Parks" page of this website. Park stickers are required to enter the park. Prices are as follows: a daily sticker for a WI resident is $7.00, annual WI resident stickers are $25.00, senior citizen (65+) is $10.00. Non-WI resident daily stickers are $10.00 and non-WI resident annual stickers are $35.00.
Clifton was the name of the area now known as “High Cliff”. Clifton used to be a bustling village with hundreds of folks, most of who worked in the limestone industry. The cliff faces we see today were manipulated by many years ago for the production of limestone. Men would drill holes in the top of the escarpment (the rock ledge), and then blast dynamite in the holes. The dynamite would force the rock to split and crumble. The crumbled rock was then beat with pick axes by men. This tedious task took all day to get the rock into pieces of stone fit to be hauled by rail cars to the limestone kilns which existed (some remnants remain on-site today). Before the use of rail car, horses hauled the limestone to the kilns by carts to the lakeshore some 225 feet below the ledge.
Once processed in the kilns, men used wheel barrows to haul the lime powder to a local Clifton shop where it was then bagged or barreled and shipped across Lake Winnebago. Many came to work the lime stone plant which led to an expanding village with a general store (still present), company office, and post office. The mining operation lasted about 100 years. As available limestone diminished, people moved to the cities for work, and the once busy village began to disappear.
It is hard to believe that in addition to a bustling town, the area loved by today’s park enthusiasts was also loved by loads of people in the 1800’s riding an excursion boat, the “Valley Queen”. People would arrive in droves for picnics and dancing. In the 1920’s the area expanded even more with the addition of an amusement park.
The old general store now serves as a museum recounting the many memories made in Clifton. “Clifton” (High Cliff State Park) is located at N7630 State Park Road, Sherwood.
For more information on the park itself, see the "Parks" page of this website. Park stickers are required to enter the park. Prices are as follows: a daily sticker for a WI resident is $7.00, annual WI resident stickers are $25.00, senior citizen (65+) is $10.00. Non-WI resident daily stickers are $10.00 and non-WI resident annual stickers are $35.00.
W3307 County Highway B
This restored Victorian ballroom was once the St. John Auditorium. This majestic building has a double verandah, park-like yard and gazebo, parlor, and formal ballroom.
Located on the corner of Cty Hwys B and BB, 2.5 miles east of Sherwood.
Downtown Menasha Historical Walking Tour
Take a walking tour of Historical Downtown Menasha! Call the Menasha Historical Society at (920) 722-4364 or the City of Menasha at (920) 967-3650 for your free guide!
Old fishing villages dot the state highways which follow the east shore of Lake Winnebago. Travel through Calumetville, Brothertown, Quinney, and Stockbridge and observe much of the old architecture still in tact. The villages are still very popular amongst fishermen and boating enthusiasts. For more information on fishing, visit the “Fishing” portion of this website. Follow Hwy 151 or Hwy 55 north or south to travel through the villages.
Haese Memorial Village
This historic village is designated a Historic District and is located in Forest Junction at the corner of Milwaukee Street and Randolph Street. The Village was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
High Cliff Effigy Mounds
N7630 State Park Road
Just north of the campground in High Cliff State Park one can view effigy mounds built by nomadic woodland tribes between 1000 A.D. and 1500 A.D. When following the Indian Mound Trail through the woods, the first mound you encounter is a panther mound 285 feet long. The Park has 3 more panther mounds, 2 conical mounds, one lineal mound, and, along a smaller trail, two buffalo mounds. It is believed the shape of the mound signified the status of the family. For example, the buffalo shape is thought to signify the family of a chief. Effigy mounds have always been a mystery. Some mounds were used for funeral purposes which have been found to hold any where from one to many bodies. Others have been found to be empty. Regardless, all mounds were sacred to the tribes that built them and should be treated with respect. None of the mounds at High Cliff have been found to hold remains. A number of mounds elsewhere in Calumet County (Quinney and Brothertown) have been identified and hold human remains.
Additional mounds can be viewed at Calumet County Park, N6150 Cty Hwy EE, Stockbridge. Phone: (920) 439-1008. Park stickers are required to enter the park. Prices are as follows: a daily sticker for a WI resident is $7.00, annual WI resident stickers are $25.00, senior citizen (65+) is $10.00. Non-WI resident daily stickers are $10.00 and non-WI resident annual stickers are $35.00.
High Cliff State Park Historical Features
N7630 State Park Road
A limestone quarry and kiln operated at the present site of High Cliff State Park. The lime extracted in the kiln was sent throughout the Midwest for use in plaster, cement, and as a soil additive. Limestone was used for brick mortar and gravel. The lime kilns and other structures are still standing along the Lake Winnebago shoreline. In its heyday, the lime industry supported a small "company town" consisting of 16 houses for workers, a general store, post office, telegraph office, company office, and a tavern. The General Store remains intact and is used today as a museum and refreshment stand. Siouan Indian effigy mounds from 1000-1500 years ago remind visitors of the earlier history of what is now the park. There are four panther-shaped mounds, two buffalo-shaped mounds, conical mounds, and a linear mound. Out of respect and proper care for the mounds, please ask park staff for assistance when traversing the site. Park stickers are required to enter the park. Prices are as follows: a daily sticker for a WI resident is $7.00, annual WI resident stickers are $25.00, senior citizen (65+) is $10.00. Non-WI resident daily stickers are $10.00 and non-WI resident annual stickers are $35.00.
Kiel Area Historical Society House
Located in Kiel on Fremont Street, this historic house contains period furnishings and area artifacts. The house was built around 1907. Open house tours are offered throughout the year. For more information contact the Kiel Historical Society President Vickie Anderson at (920) 894-2126.
Koehring’s Grand Central House
602 Fremont Street
Dining and spirits in a restored 19th century Victorian hotel. Closed Mondays.
This cemetery contains the remains of over 230 Stockbridge residents from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. It is located south of Stockbridge on Lakeshore Drive, between Mud Creek Road and Artesian Road. Perhaps the most prominent feature in the cemetery is a huge cottonwood tree. According to the DNR’s Wisconsin Champion Tree list, this cottonwood is the 12th largest tree in Wisconsin!
LeFeber’s Antique Tractors
You’ll be in awe at the collection of antique tractors Mr. LeFeber has collected. Located in Calumetville (at the southern county line) at N1345 Hwy 151.
Portland Historic Site
Cty Hwy E
Between Stockbridge and Chilton
Once a thriving community of New England Indians and folks from New York and portions of Vermont, all that remains is a restored church and cemetery. The Portland Cemetery holds the graves of many Civil War soldiers (45) and soldiers (3) from the War of 1812. There is also a church at the site, which was built by settlers who arrived in the 1830’s. An old fashioned Thanksgiving church service is held at the church the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The service is lit by lamps and a wood burning stove is used to provide the heat. A Thanksgiving meal is also served—old world style! In addition, there is a Memorial Day salute to veterans, held on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend.
St. Martin Heritage Park
N3298 CTH T
Once the site of St. Martin Catholic Church and located east of Chilton in the Town of Charlestown is St. Martin Heritage Park. Picnic tables and benches are scattered on the sunny lawn and under the shade of trees for convenient relaxation. Inside the St. Martin Heritage Chapel lies The Heritage Museum. The museum contains the history of the former St. Martin Catholic Church and its founders. The existing limestone church was erected in 1876 by ancestors of the community residents. Today with seating for 225, it offers a truly unique setting for weddings, community, family or corporate events. The Social Hall of St. Martin Heritage Park gives 3200 square feet of opportunity for indoor family fun or serious business. Both the church and social hall are available to rent. Call (920)849-9592 for more information.
Stockbridge Blacksmith Shop
The blacksmith shop was operated by Phillip Westenberger and his son Emery. From 1891 to 1915, the business was run out of the old Mission House, a rickety wooden shack constructed in 1834. In 1915, the current building was constructed next door to the Mission House. The Westenberger’s shoed horses, made chisels, repaired chains, put wagon irons on wagon wheels, did iron work for sleighs, and made sturgeon spears in their spare time. Every July 4th, Emery Westenberger would put on a make-shift “fireworks” show. He piled gun powder atop his 150-pound anvil, placed a heavy cover on top of the powder, and lit the powder with a long, heated rod to produce a blast. Emery blasted every hour beginning at 4am and ending at dark. The shop is located in downtown Stockbridge, on the east side of State Highway 55. The building is closed and it is expected to be rehabilitated and open to the public within the next few years. Although closed, one can still view the architecture and then close their eyes and hear the hammering on the anvil!
1903 West Lake Street (off Cty Hwy E)
The Harbor site is listed on both the State and National Register of Historic Places. From about 1100 to 1200 A.D, a large Native American village existed on the north side of the harbor. Pottery uncovered at the site indicates that two tribes lived together in the village—Effigy Mound Builders and Late Woodland agriculturalists. The tribes may have joined forces for safety reasons. They also surrounded their village with a palisade.
Stockbridge Indian Cemetery
This Stockbridge-Munsee Indian Cemetery was established in 1834, just after the tribe relocated to Stockbridge. Those laid to rest here suffered a series of displacements before arriving in Calumet County. The Stockbridge tribe moved from Massachusetts to New York, Indiana, Kaukauna, and finally to Stockbridge. The Munsee tribe endured a similar journey, beginning in Delaware. The Town of Stockbridge supervisors held the cemetery in trust until 1993, when it was deeded to the Stockbridge-Munsee. Located on the south side of Moore Road, north of the Village of Stockbridge, west of Hwy 55.
1600 Wisconsin Avenue
This Greek Revival style home from 1873 was restored to its Victorian elegance in 2007. It is one of the best examples of Stick Style design remaining in the Midwest. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. It was originally owned by Hermann Christian Timm and his wife Augusta, immigrants from Germany. The house remained in the Timm family until 1974, during which time very few changes were made to the building. The house is restored to its original condition during the period from 1892 to 1906. Guided tours of both the first and second floor take approximately 45 minutes. See the New Holstein Historical Society's website for more information on tour times and events. Fee is charged for tours.
The burial site of Indian ancestors and Civil War veterans. Located along Lake Shore Drive, just south of Ecker Lakeland Drive.
Village Hearthstone Restaurant
326 West Main Street
Enjoy dining in this historically decorated restaurant in downtown Hilbert, the county’s first railroad settlement.
202 Calumet Street
The museum is housed at the Ariens original manufacturing facility in Brillion. It features seven decades of power equipment including two-wheel tractors, snow blowers, lawnmowers, riding lawnmowers, tractors, and commercial mowers and tillers. Some highlights are the 30-inch, 14-horsepower agricultural tiller that founder Henry Ariens produced in his garage in 1933, parachests commissioned by the military for use in the invasion of Italy in WWII, two Ariens® snowmobiles manufactured in the 1970s, and drawing tools, tool chests and drawings from the company founders. Open by appointment only, 7:30 am - 4:30 pm.
Brillion Historical Museum and History House
PO Box 35
Museum exhibits include farm machinery, an old fire truck, arrowheads & artifacts, woodworking tools, blacksmith tools and much more! The museum is located behind the History House or "Green Hotel", Brillion's first hotel, built in 1872. No admission, donations appreciated. Operated by the Brillion Historical Society. Open houses are held in February, June, and November. Group tours are available by appointment. Located on N. Francis Street in Brillion. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Calumet County Historical Museum
Antique machinery, old cars and trucks, and much more. Operated by the Calumet County Historical Society. Open to the public on Sundays from 1-4pm, June through September, or by appointment. For an appointment phone (920) 849-2084. Located south of Chilton on the corner of Irish Road and Hwys 32/57.
High Cliff Museum
N7630 State Park Road
Located in the Old General Store is the High Cliff Museum and Nature Center. The museum has the history of the park, limestone industry, and the history of Clifton--the city that once thrived where the park now exists. Located in High Cliff State Park. Open weekends only with seasonal hours too. Park stickers are required to enter the park. Prices are as follows: a daily sticker for a WI resident is $7.00, annual WI resident stickers are $25.00, senior citizen (65+) is $10.00. Non-WI resident daily stickers are $10.00 and non-WI resident annual stickers are $35.00.
Pioneer Corner Museum
2103 Main Street
Vintage displays, antique artifacts, a diorama of old New Holstein, the Fenn Button Collection, Turnverein and Schutzenverein memorabilia, and much more. Open Sundays, 1-4pm, Memorial Day through Labor Day, or by appointment. Located at 2103 Main Street, New Holstein. Near the Historic Timm House on Wisconsin Avenue.
Brillion Historical Society
PO Box 35
Society President, Linda Moehr
The mission of the society is "to develop, maintain, and update a written and recorded history of the Brillion area, and to collect artifacts relative to that history, so that present and future generations may be able to study and take pride in the Brillion area heritage." The Society operates the Brillion Historical Museum and History House. They also sponsor the annual Christmas Tree Display and Holiday Open House. They meet at the Brillion Community Center at 7 pm on the 1st Monday of the month. Contact@brillionhistoricalsociety.org.
Calumet County Historical Society
219 Oak St
The Society operates the Calumet County Historical Museum. Meetings are held 4 times a year. Please call for info on membership.
Haese Memorial Village Historical Society
The Haese Memorial Village Historic District, located at the corner of Milwaukee St and Randolph St in Forest Junction, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. For more info about the society, please mail N8874 Church Street, Forest Junction, WI 54123.
High Cliff Historical Society
N7526 Lower Cliff Rd
From 1895 to 1956, a limestone quarry and a kiln to extract the lime from the stone operated at the present site of High Cliff State Park. The lime kilns and other structures are still standing along the Lake Winnebago shoreline, as is the general store from the community that was built around the kilns. The Society strives to preserve the historical area.
Kiel Area Historical Society
P. O. Box 44
Society president, Fay Konen: (920) 894-2085
Membership is open to locals, non-residents, businesses, and corporate members. The Society operates the Kiel Area Historical Society House on Fremont Street and celebrates Founder's Day.
New Holstein Historical Society
PO Box 144
The Society operates the Pioneer Corner Museum and is in charge of the Timm House restoration effort. Several publications relating to New Holstein history are available from the Society. Member benefits include free admission to properties and events, an annual newsletter, advance purchase rights to new publications, and an invitation to the annual dinner program.
Union Cemetery, Brothertown.
Cannon fire at "Captain Potter Days", an annual Civil War re-enactment in Potter. Photo by Tootie Krueger.
The old general store museum at High Cliff State Park, Sherwood.
Portland Church, Cty E, Chilton.
The Vintage Steel Blacksmith Shop, Stockbridge.
The old Blacksmith Shop, Stockbridge.
"Country Cupboard" antique shop, St. Anna.
The historically decorated dining room at the "Hearthstone Restaurant", Hilbert.
The Timm House, New Holstein.
The limekiln ruins at High Cliff State Park, Sherwood.
Pioneer Corner Museum, New Holstein.
Wounded in battle at Captain Potter Days (Civil War re-enactment), Potter.
Chief Red Bird monument at High Cliff State Park, Sherwood.
Marking the path across Lake Winnebago was important at the turn of the century.