/ Uniquely Wisconsin: Rock County

Uniquely Wisconsin: Rock County

Photo Credit: Discover Mediaworks

Situated as the southernmost county of Wisconsin, Rock County holds many secret spots and stories. There’s much to see–from historical sites and scenic trails to theatrical productions–but far more stories to hear. Listen in and learn from the locals about the awe-inspiring Milton House Museum, a dedicated group known as The Friends of Rock, who maintain a portion of the magnificent Ice Age Trail, and Spotlight on Kids that aims to build kids’ courage and confidence while on the stage.

Wisconsin’s Underground Railroad: Escaping to the North

Photo Credit: Discover Mediaworks

The history in our state runs deep and nowhere else is it living and breathing more than in Rock County, home to the Milton House Museum. Here, you can “walk in the footsteps of freedom seekers” and truly see how this busy 1844 stagecoach inn was a successful part of the Underground Railroad.

As the last certified Underground Railroad site in Wisconsin you can tour, the Milton House holds a vast amount of history that has been maintained over the years to help provide an experience that you cannot get anywhere else in the state.

The Underground Railroad was a network of people who helped enslaved people escape to freedom. While Wisconsin wasn’t along the main route, there were a few hundred freedom seekers that came through the state. There are other sites across the state apart from the Underground Railroad, but there are none that can be toured publicly.

“It’s a really unique piece of Wisconsin history,” said Keighton Klos, operations/history director of the Milton House. “You can come to the Milton House and I guarantee you will get an experience like nowhere else.”

Rock County is proud to be home to this one-of-a-kind historical, educational and experiential museum.

Watch this Uniquely Wisconsin short here: 

Helping Our Community: Friends of Rock

Photo Credit: Discover Mediaworks

The Ice Age Trail, a 1,000-mile footpath contained entirely within the state of Wisconsin, is one of only 11 National Scenic Trails in the country. Ancient glaciers carved the path through rocky terrain, open prairies, and peaceful forests. This incredible natural resource and state treasure is built and maintained largely by volunteers.

In Rock County, these important individuals giving of their time are known as “The Friends of Rock County,” who have taken ownership of the trail to ensure timely maintenance to keep fellow citizens safe on the trails.

The segment of the Ice Age Trail that runs through Janesville is thriving because of this dedicated group that has worked tirelessly to make sure the path is well kept, clearly marked, and free of obstacles. 

About five years ago, a group of volunteers came together to help trail users, bird watchers, photographers, and more be able to safely utilize the trail. This venture has allowed the Friends of Rock County to connect with the Earth, take their mind off the stress of life, and build a community of like-minded people. 

"I think that it takes a village, but it also takes a community,” said Dennis James, coordinator-Rock County Ice Age Trail Alliance. That's what I'd like to see people take away from these efforts." 

Watch this Uniquely Wisconsin short here:

Emerging Talent: Spotlight on Kids

Photo Credit: Discover Mediaworks

Spotlight on Kids, located in Rock County, creates opportunities for young thespians to test their craft on stage.

The goal is to provide kids with confidence and the courage to try something new, step out of their comfort zone, and have fun with others in their journey to bring musical theater to life. From the acting and dancing to the singing, Spotlight on Kids adapts the show to fit the skills of the cast and foster a community that supports one another.

"We know we're not going to Broadway and that's not our goal, and it doesn't have to be our goal. We want kids to know this is a safe place where they can let out that inner theater kid while seeing their confidence develop,” said Spotlight on Kids Director Stacy McNall. “Their lives are going to change, but having something that remains constant where they are part of a team, we do that here and it’s so important.”

Watch this Uniquely Wisconsin short here:


Rock County is truly a special place all because of the locals who have transformed the county into a close-knit, caring community. Together they have preserved remnants of the historic past, continue to maintain Wisconsin’s natural beauty, and foster a supportive community. Looking beyond the unforgettable spots, the treasured stories they tell make for an unforgettable visit to one of Wisconsin’s most unique destinations.


*Narration provided by Wondervox.

From the team at Discover Wisconsin: We believe in making our content accessible to all, which is why we offer an audio version of our blog posts. By clicking the play button above, you can listen to our blogs!

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