Clark County Attractions
Clark County, in North-Central Wisconsin, is rich in history, land and beauty. Here, the rushing waters of the Black River, gurgling brooks and crystal clear streams flow through farmland and forest, along deep ravines, past craggy cliffs and wooded hillsides.
Once a major logging area, where 19th Century timber Barrons clear-cut the ancient forest and homesteaders farmed the stumplands, much of Clark County's forest land has been restored to a wooded wonderland, offering a variety of thriving forest communities, hundreds of wildlife species, and unlimited recreational opportunities. In the 20th Century, hardy and persistent farmers turned the county's remaining stumplands into one of the state's most productive agricultural areas.
Clark County's streams, lakes, rivers and forests offer exceptional scenic beauty, abundant fish for the catching and game for the hunter, including deer, bear, geese, ducks, grouse, turkeys and more. Area forests feature miles and miles of trails for snowmobiling, ATVing, cross-country skiing, hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. A network of roads and trails provide access to forest, hunting, trapping, camping, scenic driving, wildlife observation, fishing and berry picking.
Clark County museums preserve and proudly display the history of its people, from prehistoric Native American Indian settlers to European trappers, lumberjacks, timber Barrons and agricultural pioneers. Historic and architecturally significant buildings, from early 19th Century to early 20th Century mansions, homes, churches and commercial buildings are also preserved, in use, and on display throughout the county.
Clark County is also the proud home of The Highground Veterans Memorial, where veterans of Vietnam, WWI, WWII, Native American Vietnam Veterans, and Military Service Women are remembered and honored on a hill overlooking one half million acres of spectacular woodland scenery and glacial moraine.
Travelers to Clark County will find a variety of lodging accommodations to choose from, including open-air primitive campsites, full-service campgrounds, comfy bed and breakfast inns, hunters cabins, motels and housekeeping cottages.
In the early 20th Century, Clark County was linked to Plymouth Rock on the nation's eastern seaboard, and Puget Sound near Seattle in the West, by the Yellowstone Trail, the nation's first interstate highway. Today, the county is linked east - west by U.S. Hwy. 10 and State Hwys. 29, 73, 95 and 98; and, north - south by State Hwys. 73 and 95. Via nearby I94, Clark County is about 140 miles from St. Paul, 357 miles from Chicago, 200 miles from Milwaukee and 150 miles from Madison.
Clark County's rich natural beauty offers both visitors and residents alike many outdoor recreational activities and scenic surroundings.
MUSEUMS AND HISTORICAL SITES
Rural Arts Museum
Located in and on the land surrounding the former Colby Cheese Box Company, and operated by the Clark County Historical Society, the Rural Arts Museum features a collection of buildings that hold the stories, artifacts and memories of middle Wisconsin, the history of the railroad, dairy industry, machines of the written word and education. The museum's buildings include the original Colby railroad depot, a one-room country school, a log home that was used for almost a century, and the Heritage Building which features a rural main street of the 1890's. Open Sundays, Memorial Day-Labor Day, and by appointment.
1897 Clark County Jail Museum
Operated by the 1897 Clark County Jail Museum, Inc., this turreted stone jailhouse, listed in the National Registry of Historic Places is an architectural masterpiece. Inside, visitors will find the gracious sheriff's residence charming living quarters with beautiful windows, spacious hallways, an old-fashioned parlor and a grand open stairway - contrasted by the cold, bare reality of barred windows, cell blocks, sheriff's peek holes, and solitary confinement cell. The museum's displays also include a delightful children's room, an authentic jewelry store, the Listeman Music Room, and an old photo room with scenes of the Neillsville of old. Museum is Open on Sundays 1 - 4 pm., Memorial Day to Labor Day, or by appointment.
As it stands today, this grand mansion, built by Emery Bruley in 1885, reflects the changes of that period and the personalities of each succeeding generation of owners; the Dewhursts, who exchanged houses with the Bruleys one year after it was built and transformed it into an elegant, airy Victorian residence; the Dewhurst's daughter Mary and her husband, Wallace Hempell, whose marriage gift reportedly included interior re-decoration by Marshall Fields in 1916; and Col. and Mrs. William B. Tufts, who did extensive remodeling before donating it to the city for use as a museum. Open Tues., Thurs. & Sat. 1:00-3:30pm., Memorial Day to Labor Day.
PARKS AND NATURE CENTERS
Clark County Forest
Clark County Forest was established in 1934 and currently covers nearly 133,000 acres. The forest landscape supports many different plant and wildlife communities with hundreds of species of large and small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish and insects. Here wildlife observers may spot deer, bear, raccoon, fox, coyote, ducks, geese, grouse, turkeys, hawks, owls, woodland songbirds; and, on rare occasions, one of Wisconsin's growing number of endangered gray wolves.
Roads and trails through the forest provide access for hunting and trapping, scenic driving, wildlife observation, fishing and berry picking. Miles of forest trails also support a variety of recreational activities, including snowmobiling, ATVing, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking.
The Listeman Arboretum is composed of 50 acres of woodland along the tumbling Black River. Nature trails are groomed and clearly marked. The arboretum entrance is just west of Neillsville on Highway 10. Step through the Arboretum gate and enter the world of woodland in bloom. Smell the fresh scent of the earth, notice the canopy of leaves above, the plants and shrubs below, the quiet whisper of the breeze, and the bubbling sounds of the Black River. Pause on the benches provided to watch the woodland birds and butterflies flutter through the bushes, branches and wildflowers. Stay on the trails, take only memories and leave only footprints.
Levis Mound NATA Trails
In cooperation with the Clark County Forestry and Parks Department, the Neillsville Area Trail Association has constructed and maintains a network of multi-use trails for mountain biking, hiking and snowshoeing Levis Mound in the County Forest. These include Cliffhanger on the east side and Toad Road on the west, and a beautiful trail on the north side, called Northface, that overlooks a deep ravine and traverses to the northwest point of the mound. Flat trails circling the mound include Warm-up, Select-cut, Dead Turkey, Lower Glen and Snodgrass. To the west, Upper Hermosa and Hermosa, which scale the ridge tops of Trow Mound, provide great views of the surrounding county forest and end up near Rouse Road and Gorman Avenue, 4 miles north of the main trailhead. Some trails are steep and footing is loose. Facilities include a large parking lot and pit toilets. Camping, food, gas and refreshments are available in Hatfield, 3 miles south, on County Highway J.
POINTS OF INTEREST
U.S. Hwy. 10, Neillsville
On the crest of a hill, three miles west of Neillsville, overlooking one half million acres of spectacular woodland scenery and glacial moraine, is The Highground, Wisconsin's Veterans Memorial. Here individual monuments and exquisitely sensitive sculptures honor the veterans of Vietnam, WWI, and WWII, Military Service Women, and Native American Vietnam Veterans; the Earth Dove Effigy Mound pays tribute to past and present prisoners of war and missing in action; and the Gold Star Grove remembers the families of loved ones lost in the nation's wars. Also, on the grounds are the Timber Frame Building, housing an information/gift center; a Pow Wow area, home of the annual "Warrior (Veteran) Pow Wow" where veterans of all cultures and conflicts are honored through traditional Native American ceremonies; picnic shelters and tables; and, a 3 1/2 mile walking trail system. The Highground is open to the public 24 hours a day, every day of the year.