As of 2015, I had never been to Wisconsin. Bob had been there several times for a continuing education seminar that he really liked, but those were the years when we had children at home, and I never got to go along. We decided that our trip to Minnesota in October 2015 was a great time to slip across the stateline so I could check Wisconsin off my list. After a bit of research, I determined that a visit to the Caddie Woodlawn Historical Park would be perfect.
On our way, we stopped for a few photos of the St. Paul Minnesota Temple. (Or was that on the drive to somewhere else? Hmmm.)
We got back on the road and headed east on the 94 Freeway towards Menomonie, where we turned south on Highway 25. I added the green line to the map below to show what I think is the approximate location of the Minnesota-Wisconsin stateline and to prove that I did more than just put my big toe in Wisconsin:
Caddie Woodlawn is a historical fiction children's book written by Carol Ryrie Brink that I read and loved when I was nine or ten years old. Published in 1936, it received the Newbery Medal for Children's Literature that year. (The sign on the property erroneously lists the medal as being awarded in 1935.) Caddie Woodlawn was not actually a real person, but she was based on the author's grandmother, Caddie Woodhouse Watkins, who grew up in Wisconsin and whose home is now the anchor of this historical park.
We were there on an absolutely glorious day, the kind of day that I would have envisioned while I was reading the book--crisp autumn air, brilliant colors, chirping birds, and absolute solitude.
The minuscule cabin where the real Caddie spent her early years in the 1860s looks like a child's playhouse, but the real Woodhouse family who lived here had ten chldren:
Obviously some maintenance has occurred over the last 150 years or so, but this is still no castle:
Part of the interior is sectioned off, maybe to serve as a kitchen, a storage area, or a bedroom--I'm not sure which:
A ladder led to a dusty attic big enough for several children to sleep in:
A few bird nests testify that the house has been recently inhabited--although not by humans:
This particular structure isn't mentioned in the book Caddie Woodlawn, but it is picturesque in its own way.
We Southern Californians just couldn't keep from ooh-ing and ah-ing over the fall foliage:
There is an old water pump on the site. Pete and Bob discovered that it still works:
I hope elementary school-aged children are still reading Carol Ryrie Brink's award-winning book Caddie Woodlawn. Although it's been 80 years since it was published, and even though it deals with the life of a child who lived over 150 years ago, I think tomboy Caddie's adventures are universal. Who wouldn't love a girl who befriends the local Indians, sneaks out at night, survives a fall through the ice, and has to deal with a "perfect" cousin from the East who comes to visit? Caddie is full of delightful surprises.
This is a wonderful book for young and older girls alike. It's fun to watch Caddie learn about herself. At the end of the book, she expresses a thought that fits us all:
"How far I've come! I'm the same girl and yet not the same. I wonder if it's always like that? Folks keep growing from one person into another all their lives, and life is just a lot of everyday adventures. Well, whatever life is, I like it."