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January in Baraboo, Wisconsin

Baraboo — Home to the Ringling Brothers’ Circuses

January 27, 2019

One of my 2019 New Years’ “Goals”, or Resolutions, was to resurrect my old blog on which I haven’t posted since the summer of 2017. One post per month I resolved — and I wrote down the goal on paper and even worse, I posted the resolution on Facebook. Now the promise is on the internet which means it’s forever. No excuses anymore.

Since it’s the month of January why not some photos from the past January? Back in 2009 I was working on a consulting contract in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and spent my weekends traveling the frozen roads of the Badger State. I wandered into snow-covered Baraboo on Saturday, January 10, 2009. It’s a nice place. Check it out — I think you’ll like it.

I approached Baraboo through a geologic feature called “The Narrows.” There are old glacial hills here next to the metamorphic rock, both of which seem far out of place in the dairy state.

The Narrows, granite rocks and hills beyond. Read the sign for some interesting geologic info.

Once beyond the Narrows gateway, I found a busy downtown Saturday morning even though piles of snow banked the sidewalks and the temperature hovered in the upper teens. Parked cars took almost every space. Restaurants and coffee shops were busy. Even the galleries (whose mere existence demonstrates that the town attracts some tourist trade) saw traffic on a cold, post-Christmas day.

Saturday traffic in Baraboo, Wisconsin
Courthouse Square Tavern in the old Dickie and Ashley building, probably built in the 1880s
More Baraboo Courthouse Square shops. The Al. Ringling Theatre is at the far left.

From Wikipedia:

“The city was the home of the Ringling Brothers. From 1884 to 1917 it was the headquarters of their circus and several others, leading to the nickname “Circus City”. Today Circus World Museum is located in Baraboo. A living history museum, it has a collection of circus wagons and other circus artifacts. It also has the largest library of circus information in the United States.”

The AL. Ringling Theatre, built by the Ringling Family

Baraboo was named for an 18th Century French voyageur Barabeauy. However, German influences are more apparent here than in French. Notice the names — Ploetz Furniture has a building in the square. Burkhalter Travel is next door, and the famous Ringling Brothers (originally Rüngling) were descendants of a harness maker from Hanover, Germany.

I ate lunch at the Garden Party Café above the “Corner Drug Store,” which locals said has been around since the mid 1800s. The Garden Party’s walls were covered with paintings for sale and decorative flower pots. Most of my fellow diners were weekend tourists like me.

The Corner Drug and environs, Baraboo, Wisconsin

The Sauk County Courthouse is the centerpiece of this downtown scene. Out of sight of ACLU scrutiny, rural Wisconsinites decorate their courthouse grounds with Christmas Manger scenes, and they’re a little slow to take them down in frigid January.

Christmas Manger scene outside the Sauk County Courthouse
Sauk County Courthouse, Baraboo, Wisconsin

Sauk County was founded in 1846, Baraboo in 1852. Old enough to have Civil War memories: “Erected to the Memory of Sauk County soldiers in the War For the Union”

Union soldiers memorial, Sauk County Courthouse
Sauk County in the state of Wisconsin

Thanks for reliving old memories with me. Please excuse the dim photos taken on an overcast day — but Saturday is the best day of the week regardless of the weather, right? Here are a few extra snapshots to finish off:

A list of all photo posts from the American County Seats series in TimManBlog can be found here.

I’m trying to travel to all of America’s county courthouses, and each month a post about my visit to the most interesting county seats. It’s only a hobby — but donations are greatly appreciated to help defer my costs.


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2 thoughts on “January in Baraboo, Wisconsin

  1. Marsha on said:

    My friends and family always said I should have been a travel guide because I really get to know the Little towns and people in them. You definitely have The same gift. Please continue your journeys and Blogging. It’s so relaxing to travel with you on each Trip. I really enjoy it. Thanks again


    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Ruth Black on said:

    Hi Tim. Thanks for reviving your blog. I enjoy reading it. Bing and I are taking another trailer trip this summer and we will be passing through Wisconsin. I would like to visit the circus museum that you mentioned today.


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