Museums/historic sites

Hixon House

The Hixon House in La Crosse is a beautiful look back in time at an authentic Victorian home. Begun in 1859 by lumber baron Gideon Hixon, this Italianate house features beautiful woodwork and lavish interior decoration. His wife, Ellen, decorated the Hixon House in the Aesthetic fashion, and it has been preserved much as it was after its last remodeling and redecoration around 1900. The Hixon House has approximately 90% of its original furnishings, making it unusual among historic houses. It is a National Historic Landmark. Phase One of the restoration was finished in 2005.
Corner of 7th and Badger Streets in La Crosse. Open seasonally.
Phone: 608-782-1980

Deke Slayton Memorial Space  & Bike Museum
Visit Website

  The museum was founded in March 1999 by a core group of residents who wanted to honor astronaut Deke Slayton's memory in his hometown of Sparta, WI and to commemorate the county's rich bicycling heritage.  The museum is a progression from the earliest patented bicycles to the Wright brothers bicycle shop, the Wright Flyer and into Outer Space. 
Information obtained from  


Hamlin Garland Home in West Salem

Memorial Day to Labor Day
1:00 - 5:00p.m. daily last tour at 4:30
Other dates and times available by appointment
The home of Hamlin Garland, one of Wisconsin's foremost authors, is located in West Salem. Garland was born early in the morning of September 14. 1860, in a small log cabin in West Salem.
Hamlin Garland's early success as an author enabled him in 1893 to purchase a house and four acres in West Salem as a homestead for his parents. He spent October of that year preparing the house and his family moved back from the Dakota Territory in time to celebrate Thanksgiving. In his years after his marriage to Zulime he and his family spent four or five months a year in the house in West Salem.

His first daughter was born in the house, and here he spent many mornings in his writings. The house was partially destroyed by fire in 1912 but Garland rebuilt it for the sake of his father and daughters.

In 1973 the Interior Department designated the house a National Historic Landmark. At dedication ceremonies that fall a large stone and plaque noting its historic values were placed in front of the house. The house was purchased by the West Salem Historical Society late in 1973, but restoration did not actually begin until 1975

Hamlin Garland's ashes are buried beside his parents in Neshonoc Cemetery near West Salem. His wife is buried there also.


The Palmer-Gullickson Octagon house was originally located at Neshonoc, an area about one mile north of West Salem near the La Crosse River. The home was built in 1856 by Dr. Horace Palmer, the first resident doctor of Neshonoc. It was moved to West Salem and today is open for tours.

The West Salem Historical Society Museum is located in an apartment connected to the house. Both are open for tours Memorial Day through Labor Day. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is charged. For information, call (608) 786-1657.

Historic Salem, 99 E. Jefferson St., was built by Leonard in 1859. The home is open seven days a week and has antiques and used books for sale. No admission is charged.

Smith Valley School-house, N3393 Smith Valley Road, La Crosse, is a branch of the West Salem Historical Society. Built in 1877, it is a one-room rural schoolhouse. Tours can be scheduled by calling (608) 783-3497.

Elmer's Auto and Toy Museum

One of the world's largest collections of pedal cars and antique and modern toys. More than 100 antique, collector and muscle cars on display. Motorcycles,scooters, bikes, wagons, a large doll display, and an antique tool room are located in the five buildings on a hill overlooking the Mississippi River, with a view second to none. See the 1929 Model A Phaeton in the family room. Open 9 am to 5pm on alternate weekends.
Call 608-687-7221.
Take Hwy 95 out of Fountain City to Cty G, then to W903 Elmers Rd, Buffalo County.
Fountain City Museum
Saturday and Sunday 1 pm - 3 pm, May through October. Fountain City Historical Society sponsors the Fountain City Museum. It has many items including a collection of arrowheads and Indian artifacts which is one of the largest in the state. Free admission.
Call 608-687-9511.
Main Street, Fountain City, Buffalo County.

Fountain City Wildlife Mural

Open year around, closed on weekends. A 36-foot mural depicting several of Wisconsin's endangered plants and animals. The artist: Susan Pitt. This mural is located in the 130 year old restored Post Office. Free admission.
Main Street, Fountain City, Buffalo County.
Monroe County Local History Room
Mon - Fri 9 am to 4:30 pm.
Call 608-269-8680.
1488 Aqua Rd, Black River Falls, Monroe County.
Norskedalen's Skumsrud Heritage Farm
An open air museum owned and operated by Norskedalen with more than a dozen historic buildings to view, each representing a different architectural style of the immigrating pioneers. Skumsrud has a gift shop, restrooms and a classroom. Open June 1 to August 31, Mon-Fri 11am to 4pm, Sat 10am to 4pm, Sun noon to 4pm.
Call 608-452-3223 or 608-452-3424 or toll-free 608-452-3157.
Coon Valley, on Hwy 14/61, one-half mile west of Coon Valley, Vernon County.
Paul and Matilda Wegner Grotto
Folk art "glass church" created from bits of colored glass and concrete. Open year round, dawn to dusk.
Eleven miles N of Sparta, Monroe County.

Phoneco, Inc

Business communication systems, antique to today's technology. Visit our museum showroom.
Call 608-582-4117 or 608-582-4124.
19812 E Mill Rd, Galesville, Trempealeau County.

Prairie Moon Sculpture Garden & Museum

The late Herman Rusch-farmer,fiddler, self-taught artist-created over 40 sculptures within a garden enclosed by a 267 ft. arched fince after he retired. This historic site was completely restored in 1994 by the Kohler Foundation. Tour guides are available with advanced notice. Gardens Open Daily all year. Museum Open: Sunday 1 pm - 4 pm May through October. Six miles north of Fountain City on Hwy 35-exit on Prairie Moon Road.
Call 608-687-9874.
Fountain City, Buffalo County.
Swarthout Museum
Call 608-782-1980.
La Crosse, La Crosse County.

Jackson County Historical Society

P.O. Box 37
Black River Falls, WI 54615

Founded in 1934, the museum is open by appointment only. It is an all volunteer, nonprofit organization and is affiliated with the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. The museum, located at 13 South First Street in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, was the gallery belonging to one of the earlier photographers, Charles Van Schaick. You can see a sample of the photographs here.

Wisconsin Death TripThe photographs from the widely known book, Wisconsin Death Trip, by Michael Lesy, published in 1973, are from the Van Schaick collection. In 1994, the opera theater of St. Louis, Missouri, put on a performance, "Black River", which was inspired by this book.

In addition to the photo collection, there are displays of many artifacts and manuscripts depicting the early history. The museum also has a variety of books that have been compiled about various areas and events in the county.

In 1872, Black River Falls became the first village in the state to establish a free city Library. The new Public Library, located at 222 Fillmore Street, is the home of the Jackson County History Room. The Jackson County Historical Society is active in the historical preservation in the county. A new Historical Society Museum is located in the original Carnegie Library building, and another Historical Society building is located at 13 South 1st Street.



The Eastside Farm Historic Place

The brick, Italianate farm house sits on the hillside on the edge of Galesville. Alex A. Arnold built the 15 room house in 1874. He was an influential Galesville pioneer known for his work with purebred livestock. The home has a three story tower at its entrance from which Mr. Arnold could keep track of what the farm hands were doing and watch for the visitors who would come. Tours are offered on Sundays, June through August from 2 to 4 p.m. or call 608-582- 2804 to arrange a tour by appointment. The Garden of Eden Preservation Society, formed in 1983, cares for both the Eastside Farm
and Old Main.

Another interesting place in Galesville is the Gale College Historic Site, which is located at 16563 South 12th Street.  Founded in 1854 by Judge George Gale, the founder of Galesville.  Currently, Old Main, Judge Gale's gravesite, and some surrounding acreage, which is owned by the city, and leased to the Garden of Eden Preservation Society, Old Main is being developed in a Historical and Community Arts Center.  Check this historic site  out at (608) 582-4412.

Warrens Wisconsin Cranberry Discover Center

The Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center opened its doors in September 2004. Cranberries have been grown commercially in Wisconsin for over 150 years. That's a lot of history for one tiny berry. During that time, cranberry growers have adapted their production methods to the environment, changes in agricultural technology and changes in the marketplace. In addition to developing new ways of growing cranberries, they’ve also created new ways of using the fruit. You’ll learn all about that – and more – during a visit to the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center.

Whitehall Train Depot

Railroad development in central Trempealeau County began in 1866 with the charger for the Green Bay and Lake Pepin Railroad Company.  Laying of track began the fall of 1871 in Green Bay and small settlements along the proposed route completed vigorously for the right of way.  Construction continued for the next two years and by September of 1873 tracks were laid through the wheat field that was to become Whitehall.  The first regular passenger service between Green Bay and Whitehall began on January 1, 1874.

The current 1914 depot replaced an earlier wood frame depot built in 1877.  The new brick depot, constructed by the Green Bay and Western Railroad, included design elements typical of train depots in the early 20th century, including a central counter, men's and women's waiting rooms and a sheltering overhang.

The depot was certified and placed on the State and National Register of Historic Places April 19, 2006.  Recognition was due in part to its significance in the history of Whitehall, Trempealeau County and the Green Bay and Western Railroad and because it is a well preserved example of an early 20th century brick railroad depot.

The overall condition of the depot building is excellent and the exterior is essentially unaltered.  The City of Whitehall purchased the depot in 2003 and is working towards complete renovation of the site.  Once completed, projected uses may include:

  • Visitor/Information Center
  • Virtual Museum and Historical Displays
  • Bicycle Tour (start/stop/rest areas)
  • Motorcoach and Audio Tours
  • Meeting Facilities

The depot is open to visitors Memorial Day through September from 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM on Thursdays and 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM on Saturdays or by appointment.  If you would like more information regarding this depot, please contact the City of Whitehall.

Minnesota Marine Art Museum

The Minnesota Marine Art Museum currently features four major art collections, making it a regional and national attraction. The Burrichter-Kierlin Marine Art Collection, on loan to the museum, features oil paintings, watercolors and three-dimensional marine art objects from a variety of countries and periods created by many of the world's most important marine artists. The Leo and Marilyn Smith Folk Art Collection consists of distinctive wood carved and hand painted sculptures that capture the spirit of small town river life. A rare collection of amazing photographs and maps by Henry Peter Bosse reflect 19th century Mississippi River life and landscapes. Finally, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Dredge William A. Thompson will become a river history exhibit, docked adjacent to the museum once decommissioned in 2007.

Tuesday - Saturday: 10am - 5pm
Sunday: 11am - 5pm
Closed on Mondays & major holidays

Adults: $6, students age 5 - college: $4, kids 4 & under: free
Immediate family rate: $20

Bunnell House

Built in the 1850's by Willard Bunnell, the first permanent white settler in Winona County, this house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One of the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in Minnesota; it has a commanding view of the Mississippi River. The museum is 5 miles south of Winona on Highway 14/61 in Homer, MN.

Memorial Day through Labor Day:
Wednesday through Saturday: 10am - 5pm
Sundays: 1pm - 5pm

Admission: Adults $4, students $2, & children under 7 are free.
Groups of 15 or more: $3 per person

Winona County Historical Museum

Housed in a 1915 brick fortress recalling its original purpose as an armory, this is one of the largest historical society museums in Minnesota. Displays of artifacts of Winona County's history include a stained glass window exhibit, Main Street as it may have been, timeline of county history, library and archives. Award winning children’s exhibit allows hands-on opportunities to learn via a replica limestone cave, tipi, and steamboat pilot house, complete with bell! The Museum Shop offers a large selection of books including state & local history, novels by local authors, the American Girl collection, period gifts & toys, Winona souvenirs, plus much more. Also explore our used book store, Books Unlimited! The museum is located at 160 Johnson Street in Historic Downtown Winona.

Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm
Saturday & Sunday: 12noon - 4pm
Closed weekends in January & February

Admission: $4 per person.
Groups of 15 or more: $3 per person

Polish Cultural Institute of Winona

Founded to preserve the rich Polish history of Winona, the Institute houses Kashubian artifacts, family heirlooms, religious articles, folk art and more. For tour groups, a Polish style luncheon is available. Advance notice required. The museum is located at 102 Liberty Street.

Contact: Drue Fergison.

November 1st - April 30th: by appointment only.
May 1st - October 31st: Monday - Friday: 10am - 3pm
Closed weekends.

Admission: $2 per person.
Groups of 15 or more: $1 per person

Watkins Heritage Museum

This museum opened in 1993 to celebrate Watkins' 125th anniversary. Watkins memorabilia are displayed as well as everything in the Watkins product line which are available for purchase. The museum was rearranged and remodeled in 1997.

150 Liberty St.

Monday - Friday: 10am - 4pm
Saturday: 10am - 2pm

Admission: free