Minocqua, Wisconsin, known for its breathtaking sprawl of lakes, northern pines and wildlife, has been enjoyed by visitors for well over a hundred years. What began as a stopping place for loggers back in the late 1800's has become a community of people who relish in the natural beauty of the land. From fudge shops to fine dining, Minocqua has much to offer the traveling guest and settled local, including a few quirky things you may have never known.
#1 - World's Largest Penny
While this penny is technically located in an adjoining town to Minocqua, its history is no less an integral part of Minocqua's rich history. Dr. Kate Newcomb, known then as the Angel on Snowshoes, delivered medical treatment to the residents of the area, despite having to walk miles and miles in feet of snow in order to reach her patients in their homes. After many years of providing this service, she grew tired and dreamed of a hospital to be built in the area. She devised a plan, and instructed the school children of the time, to save all their pennies and donate them to the construction of a hospital. Word caught on and after the fund-raiser was featured on television, hundreds of thousands of pennies arrived via US mail in support of her efforts. A total 1.7 million pennies were raised, enough for her to build a quaint 17-bed hospital which opened in March of 1954. With the success of her plan achieved, Dr. Kate died just 2 years after the hospital opened at the ripe age of 70. She has since been commemorated with both the world's largest penny sculpture and the Dr. Kate Newcomb Museum, both heart-warming attractions to see while visiting the area.
#2 - Snowmy Kromer
While Mr. Snowmy may not have achieved the same fame as the 122-foot tall world record holding snowman in Bethel, Maine, it has certainly captured audiences around the world. In the 1960's, children and adults alike set out to make a giant snowman in downtown Minocqua. They succeeded and this began a tradition that went on for many years until alas, it faded out. Luckily, the giant snowman, now called Snowmy Kromer (after the huge Snowmy cap on his head) reemerged in 2015 as locals built a whopping 30-foot snowman in front of the Minocqua Chamber of Commerce to re-spark a once lost Minocqua tradition. Now, every year that the snow allows, he is constructed, complete with a specially-made snowmy kromer cap, a utility-cone nose and the occasional scarf adornment. Pictures of Snowmy have flooded social media and have been shared around the world and back. #snowmykromer
#3 - Home to a Famous Gangster's Favorite Supper Club
Back in the 1920-30's when prohibition restricted the sale of booze legally, Chicago gangsters Al Capone and John Dillinger made fortunes selling it "underground". Considering this was a frowned upon business venture, the two criminals had to regularly hide from law enforcement in the surrounding areas. Their favorite was the Northwoods. It has been said that the Norwood Pines Supper Club, with its discrete, isolated setting tucked away amongst the Northern Pines in Minocqua, was their favorite for enjoying a night out while "visiting" the area. Still in operation, the Norwood Pine continues to offer visitors and locals a relaxed, elegant experience complete with classic dishes and traditional cocktails.
#4 - A Resort Town By Default
While this final weird fact points to the unfortunate destruction of the grand hardwoods of the area, it has a happy, unplanned ending. When Gus Nolan arrived in the area on a mission from the US Government to survey the land for timber, he was shocked by the rich landscape and wealth of hundreds-of-years-old hardwood trees. Unfortunately, and to the Native's anguish, after a span of only 10 years, him and his crew managed to cut down nearly 90% of all the hardwoods in the area. However, with the land ever so close to barren, the lakes managed to pop into full view and Gus got the idea to develop Minocqua into a resort town - a new vacation destination for the big city folks down in Milwaukee and Chicago. Soon the area was booming, trees and wildlife returned to their full glory and life was great for the few newcomers who now called Minocqua home and the wealth of visitors who began a tradition of summer vacationing in the Northwoods.
Now you know!
Are you ready to check out Minocqua's rich history for yourself? Isn't it time you treated yourself to a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of life? Birch Trail Resort Bed & Breakfast is the ideal location for your trip up north. With beautiful views of Squaw lake, access to hiking and biking trails and all the wildlife viewing you can handle, Birch Trail offers the privacy of a secluded cabin in the woods with the accessibility of a true Minocqua area resort. Call today to book your cabin 715-588-1962.