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.

 

Columbia County History

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 Surgeon's Quarters


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

 


Museum at The Portage


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


Museums and Fine Arts

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

Columbus, Wisconsin

(920) 623-1992

Open 7 days each week

from 8:15 am until 4 pm.

Closed: Easter,Thanksgiving

and Christmas


Christopher Columbus Statue

Christopher ColumbusColumbia 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. HH.H. Bennetis 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

(608) 742-5655

Fax: (608) 742-0246

Zona Gale

 

The Palace Theater in the Dells

ColumbusWelcome 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

MedalsThe 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

MedalsCome 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

This competition is proudly recognized by the American Driving Society. To find out more about the sport of carriage driving or to find a local club in your area, please visit their web site. 

 

 


 


 

Antiques & Galleries

Antique Mall of Wisconsin Dells
720 Oak St., Wisconsin Dells
(608) 254-2422
www.wisconsinantiquedealers.com

Antique Shops
141 W. James St., Columbus
(920) 623-2669

Arts Antiques Collectibles
E10445 Xanadu Rd., Wisconsin Dells
(608) 254-7229

Artistic Expressions
531 Broadway, Wisconsin Dells
(608) 235-8380

pottery

Big Chicken
N6574 Highway 51, Portage
(608) 745-1300

Carousel Antiques
132 East James St., Columbus
(920) 623-5309

Columbus Antiques Mall & Christopher Columbus Museum
“Wisconsin’s Largest Antique Mall”
239 Whitney St., Columbus
(920) 623-1992
Open Daily 8am - 4pm
www.columbusantiquemall.com

Cottage House Primitives
120 S. Main, Lodi
(608) 592-7474
Folk Art & Antiques, 18th Century
Furniture, Historic Textiles

Days Gone By Antique Mall
729 Oak St., Wisconsin Dells
(608) 254-6788
www.days-gone-by.com

booth

Drury Gallery
301 E. Cook St., Portage
(608) 742-5655
www.portagecenterforthearts.com

Hand Blown Glass
34 Broadway, Wisconsin Dells
(608) 254-7054
www.handblownglass-gifts.com.

R. Condon Gallery & Studio
223 W. Cook St., Portage
(608) 617-1733
Open Thursdays 10am-6pm or by appointment Fine Arts, Gifts and Instruction

Lilac Furniture Gallery
W1996 Barry Rd., Dalton
(608) 617-2662
www.lilacfurnituregallery.com

The Mercantile
117 W. Cook St, Downtown Portage
(608) 745-5768

My Gang Antique Mall
14 W. Munroe St., Wisconsin Dells
(608) 253-2029

Oak St. Antique Mall
725 Oak St., Wisconsin Dells
(608) 254-4200

Pardeeville Antique Mall
103 Industrial Dr., Pardeeville
(608) 429-9393
Open daily 10-5

Seward’s Folly
100 East Seward St., Poynette
(608) 635-4785

Studio 3 Lysenko
133 Water St., Lodi
www.studio3lysenko.com

Sunfall on Main
139 S. Main Street, Lodi
(608) 592-4586
Antiques, Art and Garden. Eclectic mix of antiques, local art, garden seeds and plants,
garden decor with an outside shed and courtyard.

Three Bats In The Belfry
203 Portage St., Lodi
(608) 592-3342
Antiques, Garden Decor and much more. Located in historic church.

West James Gallery
122 West James St., Columbus
(920) 623-5325

Wisconsin Dells Antique Mall
S2279 Timothy Lane, Wisconsin Dells
(608) 356-7600
www.wisconsindellsantiquemall.com

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 


For more information about beautiful Columbia County,
here are some helpful links:

Cambria-Friesland Chamber of Commerce
920-348-6090

Columbus Chamber of Commerce
920-623-3699

Fall River Chamber of Commerce
920-484-6257 

Lodi & Lake Wisconsin
608-592-4412

Pardeeville Area Business Association
608-429-3596 

Portage Area Chamber of Commerce
608-742-6242 or 800-474-2525

Poynette Chamber of Commerce
608-635-2425  

Randolph Chamber of Commerce
920-326-4769  

Wisconsin Dells
800-223-3557

Wisconsin Department of Tourism

 

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COLUMBIA COUNTY VISITOR BUREAU
Phone -608.742.6161 Fax -608.742.3582
120 W. Conant Street, Suite 202
Portage, WI 53901

Directions to our office