Eau Claire County Attractions
Shaped by the ice and water of the last great northern glacier and settled first by Woodland Indians, Eau Claire County offers close contact with its ice-age past and diverse cultural heritage! Visitors will find breath-taking views of the glacier's handiwork, native wildlife and nature preserves, artifacts and effects of the vibrant Ojibway (Chippewa) Indian community, an authentic reproduction of an 1890's lumber camp, and a thriving, self-sufficient Amish Community living and farming today much as their ancestors did 150 years ago.
Located at the junction of the Chippewa and Eau Claire Rivers, the county seat, Eau Claire (French for "clear water") was one of the state's busiest lumber towns in the 1800's. After the timber ran out, Eau Claire became a major agricultural and industrial center. At Eau Claire's Carson Park, all-time major league home run hitter, Henry Aaron, batted his first minor league hit. History buffs, railroad enthusiasts and baseball fans come back time and again to explore the educational, historic, and fun attractions
found in Carson Park; the ballpark and Hank Aaron Memorial, the Chippewa Valley Railroad, the Sunnyview One-Room School, the Chippewa Valley Museum, the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp, the Anderson Log Home and the Historic Schlegelmilch House.
Eau Claire County's extensive trails, along the Chippewa and Eau Claire Rivers, offer breath-taking views to hikers and bicyclists in summer and snowmobilers in winter. Nature lovers will be exhilarated by diversity of habitats and wildlife observed in the Beaver Creek Reserve, including bears, wild turkeys and tufted titmice. Be sure to bring your camera. Photography blinds are located at key viewing points throughout the reserve.
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is a popular center for area artistic, cultural and learning activities. The University offers musical, dance and theatrical productions and year round public access to the remarkable James Newman Clark Bird Museum, the Phillips Science Hall Greenhouse and L. E. Phillips Planetarium. The Fanny Hill Dinner Theatre, Chippewa Valley Symphony, Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild, Wisconsin North Youth Ballet and Eau Claire Regional Arts Council present variety-filled seasons of touring and resident artists and productions that delight residents and visitors alike throughout the year.
Eau Claire County establishments offer delectable dining, from fast-food outlets to exquisite cuisine and lodging accommodations ranging from Victorian suites to backpacking campsites.
Whether visiting for a day or staying for a lifetime, there's a lot to discover and enjoy for everyone in Eau Claire County!
MUSEUMS AND HISTORICAL SITES
Chippewa Valley Museum
1404 Carson Park Drive, Eau Claire
See award-winning, professionally designed exhibits about Ojibwa Indians, the area's first towns and industries, and early farm life. Enjoy a treat in a turn of the 20th century ice cream parlor, marvel at an eight-foot, 21-room dollhouse, and find unique gifts and books in the museum store. Open year-round Tues.-Sun. 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. Summer 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. daily.
Paul Bunyan Logging Camp
1110 Carson Park Dr., Eau Claire
Bigger than life, Paul Bunyan and his faithful blue ox, Babe, welcome visitors at the entrance of this authentic replica of an 1890s logging camp. The Interpretive Center provides an excellent introduction to the camp, with actual file footage of historical logging operations, authentic artifacts and logging tools. You can tour the bunkhouse, cook shanty, wanigan, foreman’s office, blacksmith shop, barn and heavy equipment shed. Kids will enjoy the Tall Tales room. Tours are available daily 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. from May 1 – October 1. Adults, $4; Children (4-17), $2.
Anderson Log House
Carson Park, Eau Claire
Now located on the grounds of the Chippewa Valley Museum, Lars and Gretha Anderson built this two-story log home about 15 miles away in Chippewa County, where they raised their ten children. Built in the late 1850's, the style of construction in this house reflects its owners' Scandinavian heritage. Open mid-April through mid-October during museum hours.
Sunnyview One-Room School
Carson Park, Eau Claire
From 1882-1961, Sunnyview School served children in grades 1-8. A part of pioneer America's way of life, the school now serves as the site of hands-on learning for many of the area's fourth-graders. Located on the grounds of the Chippewa Valley Museum, Sunnyview School is open to the public from mid-April through mid-October during museum hours.
Fall Creek Historical Society
E11940 Cty. Rd. J, Fall Creek
Built in historic Randall Park on Highway 12, the museum houses many items relating to the history of Fall Creek. A smaller building features old time kitchen and wash house artifacts. Picnic tables and shelter are available. By appointment only in winter.
Historic Schlegelmilch House
517 South Farwell St., Eau Claire
In 1871, a year before Eau Claire formally became a city, Herman and Augusta Schlegelmilch built one of the community's first brick homes in hope of surviving the lumber town's many fires. Tour this beautiful home filled with furnishings from the earliest decades of its long history. This home is the site of a variety of workshops and special events, including the annual Teddy Bear Picnic held in August. Located in downtown Eau Claire on the corner of Lake and Farwell Streets, the house is open to the public on Sunday afternoons, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m., June - Labor Day.
Dells Mill Historical Landmark and Museum
Cty. Hwy. V, Augusta
This remarkable, five-story building, built in 1864 is entirely constructed of hand-hewn timbers fastened with wooden pegs. Except for the grindstones, the mill machinery, including the millwheel, gears and pulleys, is also fashioned entirely of wood. The waterpower generated by Bridge Creek is transferred from waterwheel to milling machinery over 3000 feet of belting and 175 pulleys. Open 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. daily, May 1 to October 31.
Truax Prairie Home
905 Kane Rd., Eau Claire
715-834-2161 or 715-834-1766
This restored farmhouse, built in 1864 by Peter and Cordelia Truax, can be toured on Sundays 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. or by special arrangement, May through September.
James Newman Clark Bird Museum
University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
Tour this remarkable circular museum from the early 1900's. Open year round, Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Saturday 8:00 a.m. - noon.
SPECIAL THINGS TO DO
Hank Aaron Tours
Carson Park, Eau Claire
Home to a bronze statue of "Hammerin' Hank" stands in the plaza outside Carson Park Stadium, where he dug into a professional batter's box for the first time in his professional debut with the Eau Claire Bears, a Class C farm team of the major league Milwaukee Braves. He cracked a run-scoring single in his first at-bat, and went on to hit .336 for the season and be selected the Northern League's Rookie of the Year. Carson Carson Park offers 130 acres of lofty pines and lovely vistas nestled into the crescent of Half Moon Lake, with trails for hiking and biking, softball diamonds, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, fishing pier, picnic grounds, you name it. The park even has its own working miniature steam train, operated by the Chippewa Valley Railroad Association.
Eau Claire Farmers' Markets
Railroad St. Parking Lot - Wednesday & Saturday 7:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. June - October
Downtown - Thursdays, 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. June - October
Oakwood Mall - Monday 2:00 - 6:00 p.m., Wednesday & Saturday 7:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. 715-878-4322
Enjoy farm fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and baked goods along with delicious jams, jellies, preserves, syrups, and more. In season, gardeners will find a variety of bedding plants, annuals and perennials. Non-gardeners will find fresh cut flowers and vegetables. Among the food, fun and flowers, market-goers may also find unusual art and craft items, music and entertaining street performers.
L. E. Phillips Planetarium
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Tour the universe, including a star show and seasonal lecture program. Learn what the heavens have in store for you this season. Call for schedule of events.
Chippewa Valley Auto Tours
Eau Claire Visitor Center
3625 Gateway Dr., Eau Claire
Experience the Timber Trails of the Chippewa Valley where tall stands of timber once brought early settlers and riches to the valley. Canadians and Europeans poured into the region that had been home to the Ojibway Chippewa Indians since the 1600's. View the impact of the last great glacier's crushing ice and rushing meltwater in area prairies and glacial moraines. Travel through the farmlands, towns and villages where diversified agriculture and industry sprang up to replace the exhausted timber and wheat-growing economies at the turn of the 20th century. Tour maps are available at the Eau Claire Visitor Center.
Chippewa River State Bike Trail
This 23-mile railbed trail offers an easy ride through an awesome landscape of prairies, woods, craggy rock formations, rivers and streams. The trail connects to the Red Cedar Trail in the Dunnville State Wildlife Area. Call for more information.
Chippewa Valley Railroad
Carson Park, Eau Claire
For a genuine old-time thrill, ride this 1/4 scale working railroad through the park. The train features coal-fired steam locomotives, a diesel locomotive, wooden 1880-style passenger coaches, streamline passenger coaches, a gondola car and caboose. The railroad's must-see features include the depot, passenger waiting canopy, roundhouse, turntable, switchyard and the oldest interlocking tower in the state.
POINTS OF INTEREST
The Wood Shed
105 West Lincoln St., Augusta
In Augusta, eighteen miles southeast of Eau Claire, visitors will find an Amish settlement of more than 150 families living and prospering as their 19th century ancestors did 150 years ago. Step into the peaceful past on a guided tour of the Amish Community and stop at the Woodshed, a unique store where the Amish display and sell the work of their arts and crafts; including beautiful woodwork and folk art, quilts, wall hangings, baskets, rugs, dolls, Amish and Mennonite crafted furniture. Open year round, Monday - Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Campus
To visit the Biology Greenhouse, please contact the greenhouse manager via e-mail:
PARKS AND NATURE CENTERS
Beaver Creek Reserve
Cty. Hwy. K, Fall Creek
Thrill at close-up views of the residents of this 360-acre multi-use wildlife reserve and the skies above. Here visitors will find diverse woodland and prairie habitats and three different facilities: the Eau Claire county Youth Camp, the Wise Nature Center and the Hobbs Observatory. Over five miles of scenic trails give visitors the chance to view many of the reserve's inhabitants, including deer, bear, beaver, wild turkey, golden-winged warblers, tufted titmice, and lady slippers or jack-in-the-pulpits. Self-interpretive trails, wildlife photography blinds, butterfly gardens, feeding stations and boardwalks are designed to enhance your up-close outdoor experience. Trails are groomed for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter season, and rentals are available.
While at the reserve, visit the Wise Nature Center. Explore the center's discovery room with hands-on learning stations, interpretive displays of local flora and fauna, and live animal exhibits. Nature programs are offered by interpretive staff throughout the year. The Louis L. Phillips addition includes a 125-seat auditorium, classrooms, a resource library, science laboratory and gift shop.
The dark sky over the reserve makes the Hobbs Observatory the perfect place for spectacular views of celestial bodies. Operated jointly by the Reserve, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Physics Department and the Chippewa Valley Astronomical Society, the Observatory provides public opportunity to view the nighttime sky on Saturday evenings throughout the year.
Located four miles north of Highway 12 on County Highway K, the Beaver Creek Reserve is open year round, Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Sunday noon to 4:00 p.m.
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