Facts about Wisconsin: from Bigfoot to Ginseng

Facts about Wisconsin: from Bigfoot to Ginseng

Facts about Wisconsin: Rib Mountain was one of the only ski resorts in North America in the 1930s. (photo: Gannett, Xai Kha/Wausau Daily Herald/File)

DealChicken spends a lot of time hunting and pecking around Central Wisconsin in search of the best daily deals. So it’s no surprise he’s come across more than a few interesting facts about Wisconsin. Here’s a bit of local history that even your favorite fine-feathered know-it-all didn’t know until recently.

You can’t talk facts about Wisconsin without mentioning dairy. And Wisconsin wouldn’t be considered "America’s Dairyland” without lots and lots of cows—over 1.5 million (at last count). The state houses more dairy cows than any other state in the U.S. and is also responsible for 15% of the country’s milk. Each one of those 1.5 million can produce up to five to seven gallons of milk a day. Moo.

Once the snow falls, skiers head to Rib Mountain, the 4th highest peak in Wisconsin. The summit tops out at 1,913 feet and is home to Granit Peak Ski Resort, which boasts 72 runs on 700 feet of the mountain. When the ski area opened in 1937, it was one of the only ski resorts open in Northern America. An 85-horsepower Ford V-8 motor with a standard truck transmission powered the original T-bar lift in 1930. Let’s just say things have come along way since then.

All that milk makes a lot of Wisconsin cheese. In 1964 the Wisconsin Cheese Foundation created the biggest block of cheese to date for the New York World’s Fair that tipped the scales at a whopping 34,665 pounds. During a meeting of the Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association later that year, the block was happily devoured. But, have no fear, a replica was created and displayed in a see-through refrigerated trailer, dubbed the “Cheese Mobile” for all to see.

Central Wisconsin isn’t only home to some of the happiest dairy cows on Earth but also some of the best ginseng around. Wausau is the Ginseng Capitol of the World, responsible for over 90% of American ginseng, much of which is exported to Hong Kong. The area surrounding Wausau has the ideal climate for growing this little white root that builds stamina as well as the immune system.

During the balmy summer months, Wisconsin Dells is where Central Wisconsin flocks to play. With its miles and miles of rides and waterways, Wisconsin Dells is America’s largest water park—and also the driest. That’s right, no booze here, only fresh water fun. Cheers!

Central Wisconsin has hatched several famous faces, including Tyne Daly and Chris Farley, but the big cheese was Orson Wells, born on May 6, 1915 in Kenosha. Known for his famous drama Citizen Kane (1941), Wells was also a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians and was known to frequent annual conventions of each organization. Abracadabra!

It seems that there’s another big and famous resident of Central Wisconsin lurking about. Bigfoot is often sighted bounding about the woods, and, according to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Association, Clark County tops the charts with three recent sightings. Don’t forget your camera while hiking!

The World’s Largest Round Barn is located in Marshfield. Why a round barn? Well, this circular building was built in 1916 and offers 150 square (round) feet perfect for showing Holsteins—or prized cattle. Round barns were all the rage in the early 1900s, but with the invention of milking machines, those round edges turned into corners.

The capitol building in Madison is considered such a landmark that no other building in the entire city can be taller or overshadow it in any way. The capitol building, which is actually the third building constructed as the state capitol, was completed in 1917 after several years of additions, changes, more additions and a few more changes.

Frank Lloyd Wright, one of America’s most celebrated architects, was born in Richland Center in 1867. While calling the area home, he constructed over 50 unique structures that can be found around Wisconsin, including the S.C. Johnson Wax Company Administration Building in Racine and the famous Taliesin Fellowship Complex.

Craving other facts about Wisconsin? Dig in to our Sheboygan page.