May 29, 1848 – Wisconsin Became the 30th State Admitted to the Union

The state of Wisconsin, wholly formed out of the Northwest Territories, was named after the Wisconsin River. “Wisconsin” means “grassy place” in the Chippewa language.

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Wisconsin is known as The Badger State (thus the University of Wisconsin Badgers). This nickname originally referred to the lead miners of the 1830s, who worked at the Galena lead mines in Illinois. These mines were in northwestern Illinois close to the borders of Wisconsin and Iowa. The Wisconsin miners lived, not in houses, but in temporary caves cut into the hillsides. These caves were described as badger dens and, the miners who lived in them, as badgers. This nickname was brought back to Wisconsin by these miners. Eventually, the nickname was applied to all of the people of Wisconsin and, finally, to the state itself. The badger was adopted as Wisconsin’s state animal in 1957.

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Wisconsin is also known as The Dairy State, The Cheese State, and The Cholesterol State (well, no one we know except for us uses that last nickname).

Contrary to popular understanding, the lyrics of “On Wisconsin” are not:

Oh Wisconsin, On Wisconsin!
Da da da da da!
Da da da da da da da da!
Da da da da da!
Etc.

Rather, they are as follows:

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!

Grand old badger state!

We, thy loyal sons and daughters,

Hail thee, good and great.

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!

Champion of the right,

“Forward”, our motto

God will give thee might!”

Wisconsin is full of natural beauty, but there are two standout features to point out in the man-made wonders department:

The Quadracci Pavilion is a sculptural, postmodern addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum completed in 2001, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The hall’s chancel is shaped like the prow of a ship, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking over Lake Michigan. The signature wings, the Burke Brise Soleil, form a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan. The entire structure weighs 90 tons. It takes 3.5 minutes for the wings to open or close, which happens Tuesday through Sunday around noon.

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It is truly a Wonder of Wisconsin worth seeing.

The second, also in Milwaukee, is Kopp’s Custard Stand. To say the custard is thick (estimated to be about 16% butterfat) and full of chunky add-ins, is not to do it justice. You just have to go! Get a schedule of flavors from the website and plan a trip!

Happy Birthday Wisconsin! You’re a great place on a great lake!

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2 Responses

  1. This is the first blog post I’ve read today and it is starting my day off perfectly. I love Wisconsin. I was born there and spent the first 14 years of my life there. I’ve lived in lots of places but Wisconsin has a special place in my heart.

    I was born in Kenosha and there is little place that was special to us called The Spot. They did hot dogs, onion rings, etc. But what my dad took us there for was their Black Cows – rich vanilla ice cream with their own root beer poured over the top. I’ve had similar root beer floats but none have ever tasted the same.

  2. Holy smokes — that ice cream looks amazing! I’ll take two :)

    Great blog post — I’d love to visit Wisconsin someday! Preferably in the summer. It’s one of the remaining states on my “tour the whole country” list!

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