Washburn County, Wisconsin

The beauty of Washburn County will delight you -- with nearly 1000 lakes…860 miles of shoreline…three navigable rivers, including the Namekagon River which is a tributary of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway…and thousands of acres of public land for hiking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, skiing and biking.

Washburn County is proud to be the "Walleye Capital of Wisconsin" and home of the largest Musky hatchery. It also can boast about having some of the best fishing in the state at the Chetek Chain of Lakes, and having thousands of miles of recreation trails. Washburn County's many small towns sponsor several events and festivals every month including Birchwood's Bluegill Festival and Stone Lake's Cranberry Festival. Spooner, Washburn County's largest community, is proud to present one of the top professional rodeos in the nation. Shell Lake, while a small village, is rich with local flavor. It is the site of the Museum of Woodcarving, which exhibits a life-size replica of "The Last Supper", and its historical society museum takes visitors through more than 100 years of local history. Shell Lake is proud of their rich Scandinavian history, and during the Town and Country Days each year celebrates with horse pulls, tractor pulls, races, nightly dances, and more.

Spending time in Washburn County is a great way to get in touch with nature and Wisconsin heritage!

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Museums & Historical Sites

Museum of Woodcarving
539 Highway 63, Shell Lake
715-468-7100

The famous "Museum of Woodcarving" is the largest collection of woodcarvings in the world. All carved by one man, Joseph T. Barta, the museum features 100 life-size biblical wood figures and over 400 miniature carvings. When visiting, take time and study the life-size replica of "The Last Supper". This beautiful carving is internationally renowned and took Mr. Barta more than four years to complete. Donations given to the "Daniel and the Lions' Den" are donated to various local charities. Open daily May 1 through October 31, 9am-6pm.

Railroad Memories Museum and Historic Train Rides

Chicago & North Western Depot 
N8425 Island Lake Road, Spooner 
715-635-2752 or 715-635-3325

If trains tickle your fancy, then you will love to spend a day at the Railroad Memories Museum. Located within the old Chicago & Northwestern Train Depot, the museum is full of artifacts and memorabilia from railway history. The depot, built in 1902, serviced passenger trains until 1961, and now hosts historic train rides on beautifully rebuilt train cars. The trains excursions from Spooner to Trego feature a variety of activities and themes including, Hobo Night, Tony's Riverside Pizza Train, Family Picnic Trains, the Spooner Rodeo Train Robbery and more. Kids, whether big or small, are invited to have their picture taken with the train conductor on the station platform and with the train engineer in the front cab of the historic locomotive. Train rides run April through December. Call for special events and train schedule. Reservations are recommended for all train rides. Group rates available.

Washburn County Historical Museum 
102 West 2nd Avenue, Shell Lake 
715-468-8382

The Washburn County Historical Complex, which depicts the last 150 years of Washburn County, includes the St. John's Lutheran Church, built in 1888; the former parsonage, now called the Annex, built in 1896; the Beaver Brook School Museum; and the Sky Watch Hut used during World War II. The main room of the museum exhibits early photos of the towns, homes, farms, and industries that made up Washburn County. Other featured items include antique toys, phones, hotel ledger, clothes and linens, and war memorabilia. The complex also houses period rooms, including a late 1800's farmer's bedroom and kitchen, a 19th Century General Store exhibit, and rooms with farming and logging tools. Open Memorial Day through Labor, Wednesday to Saturday, 10am -4pm. No admission charged; donations appreciated.

Birchwood Historical Society Museums

Log Museum, Main Street, Birchwood 
Howard Morey Homestead, Park Avenue, Birchwood 
715-354-7300

The Log Museum holds a collection of logging memorabilia as well as a hand carved replica of a logging camp operation. The Morey house was originally built in 1901, and with many additions was finally completed in 1908. Howard Morey's parents bought the house for $304.07. In 1924 Howard left Birchwood for Chicago to pursue his piloting career; three years later he began an airline shuttle service between Madison and Chicago. Over the next 40 years Howard Morey continued to make a significant difference in Wisconsin aviation, including training pilots for World War II. His home was donated to the Birchwood Historical Society in 1995. The home is undergoing restoration to return it to its original appearance and to preserve the memory of Howard Morey. Hours for both Museums are Memorial Day through Labor Day, Friday & Saturday 1-4pm, or by appointment.

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Parks & Nature Centers

Hunt Hill Nature Center & Audubon Sanctuary  
N2384 Hunt Hill Road, Sarona 
715-635-6543 or 1-877-777-8383

For over 30 years, Hunt Hill Nature Center has been educating adults, families and children in developing an understanding and connection with nature. A variety of hands on programs teach visitors about geology, plant life, and wildlife. The Center also offers ecology adventures. The Audubon Sanctuary covers more than 500 acres of forests, meadows, and glacial lakes that are home to wildlife and rare Wisconsin plant life. The diversity of these habitats support and protect the many animals and plants that have been pushed out of other areas due to environmental degradation. The goal of the Hunt Hill Nature Center and Audubon Sanctuary is to educate and protect Wisconsin's forests and wetlands. Call for information and schedules of activities and events.

Namekagon River & Visitors Center 
Highway 63, Trego
715-635-8346

As a northern tributary of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, the Namekagon River stretches 50 miles through Washburn County. The Namekagon River is mostly undeveloped which provides visitors with an authentic wilderness experience, allowing them to view the deer, muskrats, turtles, herons and even bald eagles that live along the riverbank. The National Park Service also maintains primitive campsites accessible by water only. The Namekagon River preserves its water and riverbanks by prohibiting motorized craft in the waterways. Water lovers will enjoy canoeing and inner tubing through the flowage areas, the excellent trout fishing, and the variety of swimming beaches. The Visitor Center features local history of the Namekagon River and St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, nature exhibits, and aquariums. Open.

Loyhead & Sawmill Lake Primitive Canoe Routes   
Washburn County Forest Administration Offices 
715-635-4490

Canoe along the waterways that Native Americans and fur traders of Northern Wisconsin used 200 years ago. The historic routes include access to more than 30 lakes, including land locked glacial lakes, and through an extensive marked portage and trail system. The canoe routes take you throughout Washburn County from the Yellow River in the south to the Totogatic River in northern Washburn County, as well as along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Many campsites are located along these waterways, including 20 primitive campsites, with a boat launch and dock along the Sawmill Lake Route.

Spooner Area Recreation Trails 
Washburn County Forest Administration Office 
715-635-4490

Home to beautiful untouched wilderness, hikers, bicyclists, snowmobilers, skiers and horseback riders can enjoy the variety of recreational trails in the Spooner area. The woods, lakes and rivers, hills and trails will make any nature lovers' dreams come true. Fantastic trails include Beaver Brook Trail -south of Spooner, Cranberry Road off Hwy. 53; College Street Park Trail -north Spooner, north of Elm Street, east of Hwy. 63; Nordic Woods Trail -east of Spooner, off Hwy. 70; Red Barn Trail -northeast of Shell Lake, on County Road B off Hwy. 63; Totagatic Trail -north of Minong, off Hwy. 53. Call for additional trails or special ATV trails.

Long Lake
Sarona Long Lake Chamber of Commerce 
1-888-773-LAKE or 715-354-7449

Officially appointed as the "Walleye Capital of Wisconsin", Long Lake offers fantastic fishing, swimming in pure spring fed waters, and boating along beautiful shorelines where you are likely to see herons, ducks, otters, deer, and bald eagles. Winter enthusiasts will find the 3,300 acres of Long Lake a great deal of fun with many miles of marked and groomed snowmobile and cross-country skiing trails.

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Washburn County, Wisconsin
Washington County, Wisconsin

Special Things to Do

"Heart of the North" Professional Rodeo 
County Fair Grounds, Spooner 
1-800-367-3306

Get ready for a wild and fun time at Spooner's annual professional rodeo. Featuring some of the nation's top rodeo champions, the performers and their animals will thrill you with many exciting and risky events. You will also enjoy the coronation of the Rodeo queen and the equestrian parade. The 47th annual rodeo show will be held on July 7-9; tickets go on sale January 3, 2000.

Bluegill Festival 
Downtown Birchwood 
1-800-236-2252

Have down-home fun when the village of Birchwood celebrates their annual Bluegill Festival. Held the 3rd weekend in July, Birchwood residents hold a parade, town potluck dinner, logging demonstrations, and a the coronation of the Bluegill Festival Queen. The whole family will love to watch the Fireman's Water Fight - where firefighters from neighboring communities battle it out with their high-pressure hoses. Call for schedule of events.

9th Street Bluegrass Gospel Festival
N5701 9th Street, Spooner
715-635-9130
Enjoy some great bluegrass and gospel music, food wagon and camping (with or without electric). 2nd weekend of June and 1st weekend of September. Bring your instruments for workshops, jamming & open mic sessions.

Points of Interest

Governor Tommy G. Thompson State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center
810 W. Maple, Spooner 
715-635-2101

The Governor Tommy G. Thompson State Fish Hatchery is Wisconsin's newest hatchery and features a state of the art coolwater hatchery. It is considered the largest of its kind in the world producing nearly 2 million walleyes, 100,000 muskellunge, and some northern pike. The visitor center features information on DNR issues, including water quality protection, wastewater treatment, and watershed land use. Some of the exhibits include historical photos of the hatchery, fish aging displays, a touch table for adults and children, and a look at hatchery incubation batteries and fry tanks. Open Monday through Friday, 7:45am-4:30pm. Tours are given at 10am and 2pm.