History & Museums

A captivating mix of astronauts, bicycles, World War era artifacts, and more!

Monroe County’s rich history encompasses everything from our historic buildings and military training to our contributions to space exploration.

History & Museums

Delve into the rich history of Monroe County, Wisconsin, through its museums and historical sites. Step back in time as you explore exhibits detailing the area’s Native American heritage, pioneer days, and contributions to American history. From interactive displays to preserved artifacts, these museums offer an immersive journey through the past, allowing visitors to gain insight into the region’s cultural heritage and evolution over time.

Discover Cranberries

Wisconsin leads the U.S. in cranberry production. Discover Cranberries offers an immersive experience in Wisconsin's top fruit crop. Housed in a historic cranberry warehouse in downtown Warrens, the museum features exhibits, interactive displays, and a cranberry corralling game. Indulge in cranberry ice cream and dine at the Cranberry Country Cafe. The gift shop offers Wisconsin-made cranberry food products and souvenirs (watch now). Experience the Cranberry Capital of Wisconsin at Explore Cranberries. Discover more here.

Deke Slayton Memorial Space and Bicycle Museum

Deke Slayton was one of America’s first astronauts, part of the Mercury 7 group that was formed by NASA in 1959. Throughout his 20+ year career with NASA, Deke was instrumental in shaping the early days of US manned space flight. In 1975 he was part of the crew for the US/Russian Apollo-Soyuz docking mission, the very first international space mission of its kind which paved the way for the International Space Station.

Why bikes and Deke Slayton? Sparta, Wisconsin is the Bicycling Capital of America with the first Rails to Trails Program in the country where old railroad tracks were converted into bike trails. Deke Slayton is a Sparta area native and one of America’s first astronauts. The community wanted to celebrate both of these traditions, and the Deke Slayton Memorial Space and Bicycle Museum was born.

Fort McCoy Commemorative Area

Fort McCoy’s Commemorative Area, History Center & Equipment Park are located in the installation’s 800 block and the immediately surrounding area.

The Commemorative Area consists of World War II-era buildings set aside to help tell Fort McCoy’s unique story. These facilities, representative of the type found in the cantonment area when it was constructed in 1942, help to depict Soldier life during the 1940s. An administrative facility, a dining facility, and one barracks are set up to represent the use of each facility during the WWII era. Display items include bunk beds, footlockers, and potbelly stoves. The other buildings, both barracks, house informational displays that highlight the events of WWII.

The History Center features displays of memorabilia that reflect the role the installation held throughout WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Cuban Refugee Resettlement Center operations, Operation Desert Storm, and more

The Equipment Park is an outdoor area used to display historical and present-day equipment representative of the types used on the installation. The design of the park allows for the display of more than 70 pieces of equipment, ranging from helicopters and howitzers to trucks and trailers.

Little Falls Railroad & Doll Museum

The Little Falls Railroad and Doll Museum showcases an extensive collection of model trains and railroad memorabilia alongside an impressive array of dolls from different eras and cultures. Visitors can explore the rich history of railroads through interactive exhibits and displays, as well as admire the intricate craftsmanship of various dolls. Whether you're a railroad enthusiast or a doll collector, this museum promises an engaging and educational experience.

Little Red Schoolhouse Museum

The Little Red Schoolhouse Museum, situated in Tomah, Wisconsin, is a captivating tribute to the early days of education in rural America. Housed within an original one-room schoolhouse from 1873, the museum offers a glimpse into the past with its array of exhibits featuring vintage textbooks, desks, and other classroom artifacts. The museum also hosts various events and programs for all ages, making it a delightful destination for anyone interested in the history of education or simply curious about life in a bygone era.

Tomah Area Historical Society Museum

The Tomah Area Historical Society Museum features exhibits on Native American artifacts, pioneer life, military history, and industrial development, providing a comprehensive view of the region's past. Including photographs, documents, and artifacts, visitors gain insight into the community's evolution. One of the exhibits features, Frank King, a Tomah resident, who created "Gasoline Alley," a comic strip debuting November 24, 1918. Renowned for its innovative use of color and real-time continuity, the strip has received numerous awards, including the National Cartoonists Society's Humor Strip award in various years and King's receipt of the Reuben Award in 1958.

Monroe County Local History Room and Museum

The Monroe County Local History Room's purpose is to connect people to the past in a meaningful way. Come and engage, explore, and encounter history at the Monroe County Local History Room & Museum!

The Monroe County Museum offers a number of interactive and multi-generational exhibits on the history of the County. Both permanent exhibits and regularly changing displays help bring the past to life and engage visitors by illustrating the past lives and experiences of Monroe County.

Wegner Grotto County Park

Ten miles north of Sparta you will find the Wegner Grotto County Park—a fantastic landscape of concrete sculptures decorated with thousands of glittering glass shards and found objects, such as seashells, china dishes, and arrowheads. The Wegner Grotto is named for its creators, Paul and Matilda Wegner, the German-born couple who constructed these ambitious patriotic and religious monuments on their property from 1929 to 1942. Since 1987 the Grotto has been an official Monroe County park.

Contact

Address

124 N. Court St.
Sparta, WI 54656
Monroe County, WI

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