BRANDON WISCONSIN RR-2 ZIP-53919
Very recently we took off on a Saturday morning for a one day
trip. My mysteriously-minded husband wouldn’t tell me where we
were going. His stock-in-trade answer is always the same
‘Don’t you like surprises?’ I gave him a stony wifely
stare. Of course I like surprises that is sometimes. One thing I
knew before we ever set wheel on the road. There must be a steam
engine or two along the route we were to cover. There always are.
But he still looked as though he was waiting for my answer. ‘Oh
sure,’ I murmured companionably, ‘but I like to know where
I’m going too.’
In one of his out-of-the-way places we came to an unbelievable
bridge. It was a dual purpose structure, very old, apparently, but
still in daily use. On one side the train had a track crossing it,
and right next to that ran our one way road. There was only a low
divider between. But it was very evident that the train and a car
were not to cross it simultaneously. A sign informed us, DO NOT
CROSS WHILE TRAIN IS CROSSING. And when I saw that bridge I
wasn’t about to argue with that sign. I inwardly agreed to let
the train have it all to itself. I’d gladly wait, any time. In
fact I heaved a little sigh of thankfulness when we were safely
Definitely that bridge between Mosinee and Dancy belonged to an
earlier era. I could visualize horses and carriages clopping and
rolling across it on hot summer days. And I wondered what would
have happened to a skittish horse and his unfortunate followers had
a train come unexpectedly upon him. I will put this down as
surprise No. 1.
Our next adventure was visiting a flea market with tables set up
in the edge of a growth of pine. The sellers were waiting for their
customers, comfortably seated in the shade. But it was mostly
‘women’s stuff’ so we didn’t stay long. I have
enough ‘women’s stuff’ now for another lifetime. One
witty neighbor of mine commented that ‘we spend the first half
of our lives collecting so much stuff that it takes the second half
of our lives to take care of it.’ Is that truth, or is that
truth, all you collectors?
As we drove on toward whatever we were driving toward, we were
surprised again by the acres upon acres of blossoming potatoes
between Merrill and Antigo. How could it be? That many potatoes?
Who could possibly eat them all? The fields surrounded the houses
in neat circles. All you would need is a five tined fork and a
pushy foot an hour before dinner.
By now I learned we were headed for a small town named Wabeno.
But that is all I knew. The sun beat hot upon us as we made the
last miles. It was early August and the middle of the day.
One of the quaintest things we saw all day, was as we neared
Lily, on Highway 52. Here were two peak-roofed small buildings
somewhere between a chapel and a large pig coop in size. They stood
side by side with a neat strip of green grass growing in between.
What were these two, we asked each other? Finally we settled for
his and hers houses for two people who could neither live together
nor apart. We are probably terribly wrong, but it was fun
When we reached Wabeno it didn’t take long to see that
something special was going on. The music of a merry-go-round came
drifting across a murky stream. Yes there was one steam engine
there, too. It was a beautiful Case owned by Frank Sinnard and
Next to this was parked a Phoenix Log Hauler weighing 18 Tons.
It was rated at 100 H. P. and traveled at a speed of 6 to 8 miles
an hour. In its day it pulled 25 sleigh loads of logs out of the
woods. The boiler was tested for 240 lbs. of pressure and the
safety valve was set at 125 lbs. It was used only in winter on iced
roads. Front wheels are now replacing the sled. It was built in the
early 1900s. They told us there were only two others like it, one
in Cedar Falls, Iowa and the other one in a museum.
A truck loading contest was going on as we purchased our
tickets. This was strictly today, as huge hooks picked up the logs
and placed them on waiting trucks. Then the contestant must again
unload these logs, and was timed for the procedure.
Next came tree felling where chain saws were used and the
contestant must estimate where his log was to fall and set a flag
there. These substitute trees were naked logs set into the ground
to form a small skinny-looking forest.
But the best surprise of the day came when a rather clumsy
appearing work horse was led out into the center of activity. He
was a trained logging horse who took oral and sign directions from
his trainer. All was quiet as he performed. The horse’s alert
ears were perky and waiting. At a shouted order this intelligent
animal toted the log he was dragging behind him in any direction
his owner ordered him to. Then he directed him toward this naked
forest and took the horse and log to the other side with only signs
and oral instructions. If the log caught on a tree the horse
disengaged himself by the trainer’s orders. He then continued
on his way until he emerged from the other side. We sat there
speechless until a very stout lady walked in front of us wearing
exceedingly tight stretch pants. The comment came from next to me
that they should have been red. I shuddered. How can any woman show
up that way? What has happened to our dignity? The entertainment
went on with a pulp throwing contest, and then to teams of two who
got on a log in a pool of water to see who could stand up the
longest. It seems they have a name for it birling.
So it was we ended our day at the 8TH ANNUAL LOGGING EXPOSITION
and DIAMOND JUBILEE at Wabeno. We returned home happily tired after
a new experience. As I turned it all over in my mind that night I
thought about life being like that. Always new surprises along the
way. And when finally we who are Christians cross that bridge over
into glory, that will be the best surprise of all.