For centuries, people left old worlds for a new life in Wisconsin. They faced unfamiliar landscapes and languages, learned to establish farms and communities, and blended the old with the new. Tucked within the depths of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in the town of Eagle lies Old World Wisconsin. In a setting largely unchanged from the rolling prairies where the first pioneers settled, this living museum brings together a mix of history and hand-on experiences.
Learn something new about the old as you step inside the 1900s Raspberry Schoolhouse. This one-room classroom still has the desks, blackboard and original layout of the classroom thanks to priceless documents left by an actual student who attended the Raspberry Schoolhouse. Class is in session!
Each part of Old World Wisconsin was moved here piece by piece. Literally…every board, brick and log was numbered in order to be rebuilt exactly how it was originally created to form what has become America’s largest outdoor museum of rural life. When it came to creating back in the 1800s, nobody did it better than a town’s local blacksmith.
Take a trip around the track on Old World’s 1880s high wheel bikes at the Wheelman’s Club. These bikes, though closely resembling their two-wheeled cousins, have three wheels. They were helpful for women, who strictly wore dresses at the time, to be able to participate in the fun.
Head over to the baseball field on-site and catch a game played by the Diamonds. This team, based on the 1900s Waukesha Diamonds, plays by the historic rules. Cheer them on as they catch without gloves (their hands were their mitts!), pitch underhand and play with a softer ball. All while dressed in their traditional knickerbocker-style wool uniforms. It’s all fun and games at Old World Wisconsin.
Spend the day with Old World’s heritage animals! All animals on-site are breeds of the 1800s. With horses, cattle, pigs, sheep and chickens, there’s plenty to explore. Collect eggs from the chickens, transform wool from sheep into socks and watch a team of oxen work from yoke and voice commands. What better way to understand how our ancestors lived than to get up close and personal with some of the spaces and activities they encountered in the 18 and 1900s?
1860s Pomeranian Farm
Built in Pomerania (modern-day Germany), the 1860s Farmhouse and Garden is known for its unique exterior and bountiful front garden. The woman of the house took care of the garden areas where she grew a mixture of ornamental flowers, medicinal herbs and vegetables for cooking.
Get hands on with history as you roll up your sleeves and help with daily chores such as sweeping the porch, washing laundry by hand and manually mowing the lawn. There’s always something to be on the farm!
Explore the process and learn from the historical brewers on how they use heirloom hops, barley and 19th century techniques to recreate traditional beers. Hops used in the brewing process are grown on-site!
The next door nature lures visitors to venture outside of the museum into the southern unit of the Kettle Moraine Forest. The Kettle Moraine stretches across 56,000-acres and includes 250 miles of hiking trails and hundreds of multi-sport trails.
Stroll through the 1880s Crossroads Village decked in holiday greenery, full of homes and shops bustling with holiday preparations. Treat yourself to a warm cup of wassail, do some holiday shopping, and see the largest Yule Goat in North America. Then, enjoy a horse-drawn ride around the village, but keep a watchful eye out for the Krampus! If you’ve been nice, make sure to stop by Santa’s workshop to say hello and happy holidays. This is just one of many holiday events at Old World Wisconsin. Make sure to check https://oldworldwisconsin.wisconsinhistory.org/explore/#things for other holiday celebrations such as Old World’s 4th of July, Halloween Legends and Lore, and more!
Taylor Carruthers is a producer of Discover Wisconsin. Watch the show on Fox Sports Wisconsin every Saturday at 10am or on Roku, Chromecast, Smart TV, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, or on DiscoverWisconsin.com.