Saturday, August 30, 2014

New Glarus, Wisconsin

It is easy to understand why Swiss immigrants chose New Glarus as a place to build their homes and dairy farms, when one considers the beauty of southwestern Wisconsin with its lush rolling green hills and tall river bluffs.  True, it is not quite as wonderful as the Alpine homes the Swiss left in 1845, but it does come close.   To understand this community, known as “America’s Little Switzerland”, we first paid a visit to the Swiss Historical Village located in the town of New Glarus.  Below is the flag of Switzerland depicted by a variety of plantings.
Our guide through the village had a lot of information regarding his heritage to share with us as his mother’s father was one of the first immigrants arriving here from Switzerland.  In the Swiss Village there are 14 historical buildings to explore, including a Swiss church, Swiss bee haus, country school, and a settler’s log cabin, pictured below.
The log cabin was built in the 1850s on a farm northeast of New Glarus.  As families moved in and out of the home, additional rooms were built until the log cabin was concealed within a frame house.  In 1975 as the abandoned house was being razed a 14x16 foot cabin was uncovered and donated to the New Glarus Historical Society.
Pictured above is a typical cheese factory which is stocked with milk cans, cheese kettles, molds, butter churns, and many implements used long ago when many farms around New Glarus had their own cheese factories.  Many of the immigrants on the cheese farms brought with them from the old country knowledge on how to make Emmenthal/Swiss cheese as well as Limburger.  In 1910 Helvetia Milk Company opened in town (known now as Pet Milk).  The company paid farmers far more for their milk than the cheese farmers paid, so many of them closed their factories.  In 1962 when Pet Milk left town “staying Swiss” became a means of economic survival.  Today New Glarus is a tourist town which has been decorated with Swiss- style architectural motifs to create the feeling of the old country.  After touring the historic village John and I spent some time walking the streets of New Glarus where we saw the town’s cow parade hanging out around various shops.  They were imported from Switzerland and painted with unique designs by local artists.  Pictured below is Choco the Brown Swiss cow, the Maple leaf emblem is painted on him and he wears a wreath of maple leaves.  He can be found at the Maple Leaf Cheese and Chocolate Haus.  Before leaving town we had a delicious supper of Swiss dishes as sausage, vegetable soup with melted Swiss cheese and German potato salad.  One thing I learned is that the German and Swiss culture do have some similarities.


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