This is the latest stop in the series 101 Things To Do. Each week through December 2020, we will select one place or activity around the region to highlight.
For thousands of readers who enjoyed Carol Ryrie Brink’s book “Caddie Woodlawn” when they were in elementary school, or for those who are reading it now, a stop at Caddie Woodlawn Park, nine miles south of Menomonie, Wisconsin, on Highway 25, is an opportunity to visit the past, a chance to walk in the house where the real Caddie, Caroline Agusta Woodhouse, lived.
“Originally the house stood several hundred yards to the east of its present location,” said Melissa Kneeland, executive director of the Dunn County Historical Society. “It was moved to a five-acre parcel of land that was part of the original farm owned by Caddie’s father.”
Kneeland added that the house, called a Cape Cod Cottage, is not locked. “Go right on in,” she said.
While the park is owned by Dunn County, the Dunn County Historical Society has taken responsibility for interpretation at the site. Inside the house, several signs on the walls explain the history of the house, as well as the people who played a part in the story that became the historical novel “Caddie Woodlawn,” which won the 1936 Newbery Medal, an award for distinguished literature for children.
Based on the life of the author’s grandmother, the book tells the story of an 11-year-old tomboy growing up with her family on the Wisconsin frontier near Dunnville during the Civil War.
“We have had people request to have additional interpretation,” Kneeland said, “and we do our best to accommodate that. We are looking, in the next few years, to increasing activities and interpretation on the Caddie Woodlawn site. If visitors need more information, they can give us a call, and we can try to help them.”
Kneeland said visitors might also want to stop by the Dunn County Historical Society in the Russell J. Rassbach Heritage Museum in Wakanda Park in Menomonie where staff members have created a Caddie Country exhibit which includes a model of the Dunnville Store where Caddie would have gone as she was growing up.
“We want visitors to enjoy the excitement and fun of Caddie’s childhood, to get to step back in time and really be in the house that she grew up in,” Kneeland said. “We often hear about Laura Ingalls Wilder, and it’s special for us to think about Caddie being our hometown pioneer girl.”
If you go...
Name: Caddie Woodlawn Home and Park
Address: N1250 WI-25, Menomonie, WI 54751. It is nine miles south of Menomonie on Highway 25.
Hours: Open during daylight hours spring through fall