- October 20, 2023
- Posted by: Phil Block
- Category: Uncategorized
It’s becoming traditional for my partner and me do a road trip adventure in the fall. This year we went to Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Neither of us had visited these cities before, so this was a new experience for us. But like previous road trips, this one offered a variety of interesting, entertaining, and fun things to do.
The main purpose of this trip was to attend a Mary Chapin Carpenter concert at the Pablo Center in Eau Claire. She is one of our favorite artists. We missed a chance to see her in Wisconsin last year, so this year, we planned an entire trip around going to the concert. This time, Mary was accompanied by Shawn Colvin. While in Eau Claire, we were amazed at the artistic presence of this city. We both love art, so we sought out opportunities to see it wherever we could, which turned out to be almost everywhere we went. As is my custom, I took lots of pictures with which to illustrate the story of our trip.
Pablo Center at the Confluence
The Pablo Center is located at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers, thus the name. This is a modern facility which opened in 2018. The venue’s website tells its story:
Pablo Center at the Confluence operates in support of a mission that is focused on augmenting and developing opportunities to experience the performing, literary and visual arts for people of all ages and backgrounds.
MISSION – Pablo Center welcomes, connects, inspires, and transforms, motivated by the belief that through art, education, and entertainment we can build stronger communities and a more enlightened world.
VISION – Pablo Center is a leading force in nurturing art in all its forms. Pablo Center is active outside its main building, supporting events and programs in other locations throughout the region. Pablo Center is financially strong and in a stable financial position, with the resources and reserves necessary to book a variety of talented artists and to make its spaces available to local and regional artists and cultural organizations. Pablo Center achieves this vision with a strong and diverse staff and leadership that allows the organization to stay deeply connected and engaged with the community it serves.
Eau Claire prides itself on its abundance of public sculpture. In fact, there is so much sculpture here that a formal Sculpture Tour exists, which the city claims to be The #1 Largest Sculpture Tour in The Nation! The Sculpture Tour web page asks:
What better way to get a taste of the local art scene than to walk along a free public art display? The Eau Claire Sculpture Tour is one of the largest sculpture tours in the nation with over 150 sculptures that you can view while strolling along these Midwest Indie streets. Pick out your favorites to vote for to be crowned Sculpture of the Year! The winning sculpture gets to stay as new sculptures get installed every year.
Given our limited time in Eau Claire, we say only a small fraction of the available sculpture, which included the following.
Several buildings we visited displayed expertly-executed artwork in the form of paintings. The following caught my eye.
Even the sides of buildings can become works of art when murals are painted on them.
A fun part of every road trip adventure is visiting interesting restaurants. In Eau Claire, the Court’N House is one of the most popular.
On our second full day in the Chippewa Valley, we visited nearby Chippewa Falls.
Chippewa Falls Museum of Industry and Technology
One of the attractions we wanted to visit was the Chippewa Falls Museum of Industry and Technology (CFMIT). This modest museum celebrates the history of several companies that have called Chippewa Falls home. These include Cray Research, Mason Companies, W.S. Darley & Co., Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Great Northern Corporation, Toy Soldier and Insignia Collection, TTM Technologies, and more.
The museum’s website explains:
The Chippewa Falls Museum of Industry and Technology was an idea that sprang from local citizens who wanted to record and preserve the history of important, unique and ground breaking innovations in industry and technology that were developed right here in the Chippewa Valley. It opened in May 1998 and now has a variety of exhibits that include the Seymour Cray Supercomputer Collection, Leinenkugel’s, Mason Companies Inc., and other area historic exhibits.
Having spent the majority of my career in information technology, I was particularly interested in the Cray Research exhibit. The museum also houses an impressive collection of historic artifacts of the Leinenkugel Brewing Company.
Cray Supercomputer Exhibit
Leinenkugel Brewery Exhibit
CFMIT also exhibits a large collection of historic Leinenkugel artifacts, including signs, steins, clocks, bottles and cans, ledgers, and more.
Beer and related adult beverages have refreshed humanity for millennia. Wisconsin is famous for its long legacy of beer brewing. Chippewa Falls is the home of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, founded in 1867. Today, Leinenkugel ships its products to all fifty of the United States. One of the prime intents of our trip was to visit Chippewa Falls, savor the rich Leinenkugel heritage, and sample some beers at the Leinie Lodge.
The Leinenkugel website tells the story:
EVERY BEER HAS A STORY. OURS IS JUST A LITTLE LONGER.
In May 1867, the Leinenkugel family brewery was founded in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin by Jacob Leinenkugel. He was a family man driven by an iron work ethic, and he knew that his German family heritage would play an integral part of his brewery’s success. Today, sixth generation family members are involved in the company, helping to bring the same family-inspired recipes that Jacob poured his heart and soul into to consumers across the country. Over the years, our family has grown and so has our brewery, but our history and heritage remain at the forefront. Take a step back in time and discover our flavorful history…
One of the highlights of our trip was visiting the Leinie Lodge and sampling a hand-picked flight of Leinenkugel beers. To learn more, visit the Leinie Lodge web page.
The plaque near the entrance to Leinie Lodge reads:
In the mid 1860’s the brewery opened its doors for public tours. Visitors gathered at the brewery office before sampling beers at the Stirnewert, a room with an 8-foot bar and only four stools. In 1979, brewery president, Bill Leinenkugel, commissioned the first dedicated space to welcome visitors to Chippewa Falls, with the Leinenkugel’s Hospitality Center, which now serves as office space. Thiry-four years later, in 2003, the 15,000 sq. ft. Leinie Lodge was opened. Today, more than 100,000 visitors annually tour our brewery, shop our retail store, experience our historical exhibits and sample our beers.
Olson’s Ice Cream
To give our visit to Chippewa Falls a sweet ending, we stopped at Olson’s Ice Cream for cones.
On our return trip, we visited the Scandinavian-influenced village of Osseo, located in west-central Wisconsin. My partner, who is of Swedish descent, had been here once, and recalled the Norske Nook, a popular restaurant. We stopped for brunch there.
The final stop on this year’s trip was the Dr. Evermor Sculpture Park in a rural area near Baraboo. Also known as the World of Dr. Evermor, this amazing collection of metal sculpture makes the Road America Magazine’s Top Ten list of America’s Most Interesting Sites. This fascinating place is home to The Forevertron, the World’s Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture, according to the Guineness Book of Records.