Bike Loops to challenge the best or easy rides for those looking for scenery is here for you. Maybe a round of golf is what you're looking for. We offer many top quality courses. How about the sport of curling. Stop by one of our many clubs and learn more.
Although American Indians lived in the area of present day Columbia County for several thousand years, the written history of Columbia County began with the accounts of French explorers. They explored, named places and established trading posts but left few enduring marks on the land, as their only real interest was in the fur trade rather than agricultural settlement and were never present in large numbers.
From the journals of French Canadian Louis Joliet and French priest Pere Marquette, explorers who traveled the Fox River from Green Bay, portaged the bit of land, at what is now the city of Portage, on or about June 16, 1637, to the Wisconsin River, on their way to discovery of the Mississippi River. They were the first known white men to make the journey. Their “discovery” of the portage was the link American Indians had used for centuries connecting the great lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. The city of Portage and the Government canal at Portage are located near the original portage trail.
British control brought few changes. Their single interest here was the fur trade.
After the war of 1812 the American Army established control. In 1816 Astors’ American fur company was in business in Columbia County. Eventually, to protect the fur trade and the settlers that migrated here, Fort Winnebago was built in 1828 in what is now the township of Fort Winnebago. The last remnant of the fort is the Surgeons’ Quarters located outside of Portage on Highway 33 East. Perhaps the most prominent individual stationed at the fort was lieutenant Jefferson Davis. He served with distinction at Fort Winnebago, later was appointed by President Pierce to his cabinet and eventually became the President of the Confederate States of America.
/>It was in 1792 that the first white inhabitant, Laurent Barth, a French Canadian, established himself at the portage to transport goods between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. He had gotten a permit from the Winnebago Indians to do business there. Wallis Rowan was the first white settler who “took up land” for the purpose of cultivation in what is now Poynette.
Another familiar person at portage was Pierre Pauquette. Born in St. Louis in 1796, his early years were spent among the Indians in the far western fur trade. Subsequently he became the agent of the American Fur Company at the portage. His help as a translator aided Father Samuel Mazzuchelli to convert many to Catholicism. Inspired, Pauquette erected a small log church in 1833 or 34, which stood near the corner of Adams and Conant Streets in Portage. This was the first church built in Wisconsin between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River. Pauquette was assassinated in 1836 near where the current Catholic Church is in Portage by an Indian with whom he had had some trouble. In about 1850 Wallis Rowan and others in what is now the town of Poynette applied to Washington D.C. for a post office. They wanted to name their community after their admired friend Pauquette as an enduring tribute. The application was filled out in long hand. It was misunderstood in Washington and Poynette it is.
The old Indian Agency House on the hill opposite the fort, which is still standing, was built for John H. Kinzie, the sub-Indian agent. His wife, Juliet, wrote a wonderful volume of memories of her live at the Agency House from 1830, called “Wau-Bun.”
The soldiers were eventually evacuated in 1845 to fight in the war with Mexico. Jefferson Davis as Secretary of War gave the order to sell the fort to the public in 1853.
Fort Winnebago Surgeons Quarters, located in Portage, Wisconsin, is owned and operated by the Wisconsin Society Daughters of the American Revolution. The Surgeons Quarters, built in 1824 by Francis LeRoi, is one of the oldest French Colonial log structures in the state. Fort Winnebago was constructed by the Army from 1828-1830 as one of three forts built along the Fox - Wisconsin Waterway from Green Bay to Prairie du Chien. The Fort was abandoned in 1845 and much of it was destroyed in an 1856 fire. The log cabin remained outside of the fort and became the quarters for the U.S. Army surgeons. Website
Artifacts, maps and photographs capturing the history of Wisconsin's third oldest settlement are featured in the Museum at the Portage. The past is illuminated through hundreds of authentic pieces from this unique place at the intersection of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. Discover the story of Portage as you explore area history and culture shaped by the influences of rivers, native people, early explorers, brickyards, railroads, and local residents. Website
Christopher Columbus Museum
The Christopher Columbus Museum is dedicated to the Quincentennial of Columbus' daring voyage to the Americas in 1492.
The 300 ft wall space and 80 cases a total of 3,000 square feet of displays present a broad collection of diverse and unique items that bring to life the period from which Columbus burst forth.
Dan and Rose Amato began the collection in 1981 for the purpose of creating a 500 year anniversary ceremonial display in 1992. The collection has continued to grow and includes pre-Columbian and post-Columbian items.
The Museum includes a library, prints, silks, glassware, paper, cloth, statues, tapestries, pottery, wood, lithographs, and metals. With over 2,000 items, the displays instill an understanding of the forces that invigorated Christopher Columbus to take on his voyages of discovery.
Christopher Columbus Museum
239 Whitney Street
Open 7 days each week
from 8:15 am until 4 pm.
Christopher Columbus Statue
Columbia County and the City of Columbus are named after the explorer Christopher Columbus. See the Christopher Columbus Statue located on the west side of the City of Columbus. The statue is on the south side of Highway 16 at the Highway 60 intersection west of the Highway 151 overpass and interchange.
H.H. Bennett Studio & History Center
Within the historic walls of master 19th-century landscape photographer Henry Hamilton Bennett's restored studio, nothing much has changed in a century. Yet step outside, and the quaint little town he knew and loved has been transformed into a major tourism haven. Get the full story in the museum dedicated to the man who made Wisconsin Dells famous.
Henry Hamilton Bennett learned the art and science of photography after serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. Bennett captured the magnificence of the Dells with his camera and shared these unusual images with the people of our nation. Bennett produced 3-dimemsional stereographic images that began to appear in homes across America. His beautiful and unusual images of the Dells began to lure thousands of tourists here...and established the Dells as a vacation haven for American families.
Revisit the Dells of the Wisconsin River, its people, its visitors as seen through the eye and camera lens of H.H. Bennett over a century ago! Discover the ingenuity of Bennett the inventor who pioneered stop-action photography with his own homemade invention -- a rubber band powered shutter he called the "snapper"!
The Dells of the Wisconsin River has long been the home of the native Ho-Chunk people long before any European settlers arrived. Bennett had an admiration for the Ho-Chunk people and captured many scenes of daily life among the area’s native people. Another highlight is an exhibit of rare and unique native American dolls crafted by tribal artisans from across America.
Zona Gale Center Art Gallery & Theater
The Zona Gale Center is truly a gem of Columbia County. Give your spirit a chance to soar above the every day hum-drum as you surround yourself with with the beauty of local and regional artists on display.
Gallery exhibits change monthly. Each new gallery exhibit includes an Opening Reception held on a Friday and provide an opportunity for you to visit and learn more about the actual art on display from the featured artist.
The Zona Gale center also presents a Performing Arts Series featuring performers of local, regional, national and international acclaim! Contact the Center for specific performance information. Website
Portage Center for the Arts, Inc.
Zona Gale Center
PO Box 866
Portage, WI 53901
Fax: (608) 742-0246
The Palace Theater in the Dells
Welcome to the Dells’ newest and most fabulous attraction! The Palace Theater is a state-of-the-art, theater destination, producing classic Broadway musicals, as well as bringing to life many of your favorite Disney classics. The Palace Theater will produce an annual subscription series of three to four family-friendly shows, while serving a sumptuous meal included in every ticket price.
Additionally, The Palace will host nationally well-known bands and comedians for concert engagements. Group packages & discounts are available for groups of 15 or more. The Palace Theater is a wonderful value for the entire family, and will build extraordinary memories to be cherished forever! For more information - Website
American Legion State Headquarters and Museum
The American Legion Wisconsin State Headquarters and Museum is located right in Columbia County in the city of Portage.
The museum displays an interesting array of statues, uniforms, plaques, medals, photos, and documents portraying the history of Wisconsin’s American Legion and its members.
In 2001, the American Legion built a new state headquarters in Portage. The headquarters employs seven full-time people and houses a museum full of plaques, statues, uniforms, medals, photos, and documents from the history of Wisconsin's American Legion.
The museum is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is located on American Legion Drive on the north side of Portage. Call (608) 745-1090 for more information. Website
Columbus Carriage Festival
Come and enjoy the variety of turnouts from miniatures to draft horses, put to elegant antique carriages as well as sleek modern day vehicles.
Competitors will enter one of eight different divisions to compete for Championship prizes over the weekend. Vendors will be on hand as well as Olivet Church and the Columbus Legion, selling tempting treats and sumptuous burgers.. Website
Antique Mall of Wisconsin Dells
Arts Antiques Collectibles
Columbus Antiques Mall & Christopher Columbus Museum
Cottage House Primitives
Days Gone By Antique Mall
Hand Blown Glass
R. Condon Gallery & Studio
Lilac Furniture Gallery
My Gang Antique Mall
Oak St. Antique Mall
Pardeeville Antique Mall
Studio 3 Lysenko
Sunfall on Main
Three Bats In The Belfry
West James Gallery
Wisconsin Dells Antique Mall
For more information about beautiful Columbia County,
here are some helpful links:
Cambria-Friesland Chamber of Commerce
Columbus Chamber of Commerce
Fall River Chamber of Commerce
Lodi & Lake Wisconsin
Pardeeville Area Business Association
Portage Area Chamber of Commerce
608-742-6242 or 800-474-2525
Poynette Chamber of Commerce
Randolph Chamber of Commerce