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The Wisconsin file

8804 Views 50 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  Somnifor

So I got a car for the first time in years, and I decided it was time for a new project. I want to do a photo thread dedicated to Wisconsin, Minnesota's neighbor to the east. Wisconsin is a strange and interesting place in ways that are perhaps not apparent at first glance. It is a land of cheese, beer and football; and also a fertile breeding ground for weird news stories. It was home to both Ed Gein and Jeffery Dahmer. It was also home to America's greatest progessive reformer Robert LaFollette and America's most notorious far right demagouge Joseph McCarthy. It has a vibe that is hard to put into words, part worldly and sophisticated, part hillbilly; innocent and wild at the same time. It is not uncommon to meet people who have all those attributes simulaneously. It is part of what makes Wisconsin great.

Wisconsin leads the US in nearly every alcohol consumption related statistic, drinking is a big part of the local culture and attitudes towards alcohol are much more indulgent than anywhere else in the country. The only reason the drinking age is 21 is because the federal government forced them to raise it, and it is still legal (and not uncommon) for minors to drink in bars with their parents.

Anyway, I am going to start out with western Wisconsin because it is the part closest to me but over time I hope to also photograph the cities and towns of the rest of the state as well.

First some photos from last year.


Prescott is part of the Minneapolis - St Paul metropolitan area. It is a town of 4,200 or so on the St Croix river which forms part of the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota. It was founded in 1839 by Philander Prescott who opened a trading post here. There is not a lot to see.

Prescott01 by afsmps, on Flickr

Prescott02 by afsmps, on Flickr

Prescott03 by afsmps, on Flickr

Prescott04 by afsmps, on Flickr
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Hudson is a town of around 13,000 on the St Croix River. While it used to be a town in its' own right in recent decades it has become a bedroom community of Minneapolis and St Paul and is starting to see a decent amount of suburban style development. I didn't photograph any of that and instead concentrated on the older part of town.

Hudson's history from Wikipedia:

Hudson was settled in the summer of 1840 by Louis Massey and his brother in-law, Peter Bouchea. William Steets arrived at about the same time. Later that same year, Joseph Sauperson (commonly known as Joe LaGrue) took up residence. These four are considered Hudson's original inhabitants. Massey and Bouchea settled at the mouth of the Willow River, near the present-day First and St. Croix Streets. They had been part of the group who lived for some time along the river below Fort Snelling, which appears on some old maps as "Massey's Landing".

Hudson was at first called Willow River and later named Buena Vista by Judge Joel Foster, founder of River Falls, after returning from the Mexican War where he fought in the Battle of Buena Vista. Alfred Day petitioned for the name Hudson because of his impression of the similarity between bluffs along the river and the Hudson River in his native New York.

A large number of settlers arrived in the 1850s and 1860s, many of whom were ancestors of today's residents. The lumber industry was the prime attraction of the area, and over time sawmills were established throughout the St. Croix Valley.

U.S. Highway 12 once crossed the St. Croix River on a toll bridge from Minnesota to Wisconsin, which provided revenue for the town. The notorious gangster, John Dillinger, once crossed state lines to escape arrest by way of the toll bridge. With the construction of Interstate 94, the toll bridge was removed, though the long causeway extending to the former bridge location is now open to the public as a pedestrian walkway.

Hudson02 by afsmps, on Flickr

Hudson04 by afsmps, on Flickr

Hudson05 by afsmps, on Flickr

Hudson06b by afsmps, on Flickr
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Hudson07 by afsmps, on Flickr

Hudson09 by afsmps, on Flickr

Here is one photo of the edge of the Twin Cities sprawl between Hudson and River Falls:

River Falls 01b by afsmps, on Flickr
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River Falls

River Falls is a town of around 15,000. It is also home to 7,000 students at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. It is technically part of the Minneapolis - St Paul metro but it is more like an independent small town. There is not much suburban style development, and it has the feel of a classic small midwestern agriculture and college town.

River Falls 03 by afsmps, on Flickr

River Falls 04 by afsmps, on Flickr

River Falls 06 by afsmps, on Flickr

River Falls 07 by afsmps, on Flickr
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Beautiful, very nice towns in Wisconsin state; please add more :)
Thanks Christos. Those photos are actually from last year. Now for the ones I took today:


Menomonie is a town of about 16,000. As the home of the University of Wisconsin-Stout it also has around 8,000 students. It was founded in 1830 which makes it one of the older towns in the area. These photos are from the downtown and the residential areas around the University. It was interesting that while Menomonie looks run down and far from civilization it also has an organic vegan and raw foods restaurant. The parts of town I photographed had the feeling of a student ghetto in the middle of nowhere. I assume that the large number of stately but dilapidated old houses are rented out to students. There are also some nice residential areas but it started thunderstorming before I could photograph them.

menomonie01 by afsmps, on Flickr

menomonie02 by afsmps, on Flickr

menomonie05 by afsmps, on Flickr

menomonie06 by afsmps, on Flickr
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menomonie26 by afsmps, on Flickr

menomonie28 by afsmps, on Flickr

menomonie29 by afsmps, on Flickr

menomonie27 by afsmps, on Flickr

menomonie30 by afsmps, on Flickr

menomonie32 by afsmps, on Flickr

My next target is Eau Claire.
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It was originally settled by Yankee northerners and French Canadians but then had a massive wave of German immigration, so now it is one of the most heavily ethnic German areas of the US.

Actually Green Bay, which was the first settlement in Wisconsin, was a French colonial outpost that dates to 1671 but it didn't really become a town until the 19th century.
great new interesting thread for Wisconsin...:cheers2:
Beautiful and interesting pictures. This is a very promising thread.

These towns look a bit desolate at first sight. There are not many people in the streets (yet enough cars). And these are still outskirts of Minneapolis-St Paul? Then I wonder what the rest of the state looks like. I just think I can't really imagine the vastness and emptiness of the area (it has a density under 40/km2 for an area larger than England according to Wikipedia). But it's fascinating and beautiful!
Hudson, Prescott and River Falls are in the Minneapolis-St Paul metro but Menomonie isn't. It is 60km (40 miles) east of Hudson. The scale of the map is a bit deceptive as Wisconsin is pretty big.

While the rural parts of the state aren't packed with towns like in more densely populated areas they are fully settled so the emptyness is relative. Most of the countryside is pastoral farmland, only the north is wildernesslike.
You beat me to it, Som! Great photo tours, as can always be expected from you. :)

I was planning on snapping some Western Wisconsin towns over the summer, but it looks like you've covered several of the nearby ones. I just love this area of the state and the rolling countryside. This is the Wisconsin of lore. :)
I forgot how much I love western Wisconsin. It is a nice change from photographing the Twin Cities which is starting to get repetitive. I think there is enough of Wisconsin for both of us. Eau Claire alone merits multiple tours.

Eau Claire

Eau Claire is the largest town in the northwestern quarter of Wisconsin. It is big enough to have a metropolitan area. The Eau Claire MSA has a population of around 160,000. It was founded in 1856 as a lumber milling town and over time grew into the hub of its' region, other than that it doesn't seem to have much history. In general it feels more dynamic than a lot of the other towns in the area. The residential neighborhoods tend to be well kept, there is some new development. You have the occasional abandoned industrial building but no widespread areas of abandoned or run down buildings. The downtown seemed pretty dead but I visited on a sunday, and most of the stores downtown were closed. The constant drizzle and mist probably didn't help. Most of the storefronts were occupied though. The people were very friendly. In the process of taking these photos a number of people randomly said hello or started talking to me about photography. It is much different than photographing in a big city where people are more likely to view you with suspicion.

eau claire 1 by afsmps, on Flickr

eau claire 3 by afsmps, on Flickr

eau claire 4 by afsmps, on Flickr

eau claire 5 by afsmps, on Flickr
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