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Day Trip: Learn about history on wheels

Old World Wisconsin adds cycling to tours

Published: Friday, July 11, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Photo submitted by Old World Wisconsin)
Several farms, representing different heritages, let guests explore the differences and similarities of early Wisconsin settlers, as part of a visit to Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, Wisconsin.
(Mike Morbeck/Old World Wisconsin)
Catch Wheel Fever opened this summer at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle, Wisconsin. Vintage bicycles and tricycles are available for a ride around the track.

EAGLE, Wis. – The joy of cycling has come to Old World Wisconsin.

Now visitors can get pedaling in the spirit of the 1890s. To catch a ride, go to Caldwell Farmers' Club Hall and be ready to get some leg action going. Bicycles and tricycles, similar to those used way back when, are there for guests to try on the bicycle track. There is no additional charge to do so.

It's just not about riding, though, visitors also can get the feel of things at the workbench, which fills in as a bicycle repair shop. For the entire cycling experience, check out 19th-century bicycle songs, look over road maps from the era, and see an 1890s' safety bicycle that was made in Wisconsin.

Old World Wisconsin is not just about wheels, however, it's also about life in the past, working and living on farms or in villages. This site is worth a day and then some. Divided into several areas, guests move from style to style as they explore. The main areas are Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Yankee, Polish, German, African-American and the Crossroads Village.

It's the 1870s in the village. Here a blacksmith makes his wares, while the shoemaker keeps busy in his shop. Throughout the entire site, costumed interpreters are there to interact with visitors for an entertaining learning experience.

While guests can wander through the farms and village and just look around, there also are opportunities to roll up their sleeves and "get to work." They can take part in chores, games outside and crafts.

Getting food ready for the table is a big part of life, as is going to school. Both of these subjects are touched on at Old World Wisconsin. For instance, at Raspberry School, the schoolmaster teaches what learning was like in a one-room schoolhouse.

Historic breeds of animals, as well as an heirloom garden, will add interest to any exploration.

For a different experience, catch a vintage base ball game. The Eagle Diamonds will face the Milwaukee Grays at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. They will move on to battle the Wade House Red Jackets on Aug. 9 and then Chicago Salmon on Sept. 13. Keep in mind that a hit is a knock, home plate is the dish, and the outfield is the garden.

Old World Wisconsin boasts that it is the world's largest museum dedicated to the history of rural life. The boast is well-founded; wear comfortable shoes and take the time to breathe in the fresh country air of the past.

If you go

What: Old World Wisconsin

Where: W372 S9727 Wisconsin Route 67, Eagle, Wisconsin

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Sept. 1

Cost: $16 for adults, $14 for 64 and older and students, $9 ages 5 to 17, free for 4 and younger

Wheelchair access: Some areas have limited accessibility; the tram is capable of transporting wheelchair users

Information: oldworldwisconsin.wisconsinhistory.org or 262-594-6301

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