We made the trip today by way of the Wisconsin Coolidge Memorial Highway. That's the designation for County P just south of the town of Brule.
The WPA guide to Wisconsin described president Coolidge's attachment to the area:
"The fishing around here, I can testify, is very excellent" he added, "The climate is wonderful." The President stayed 88 days in his summer White House at the Pierce estate on the Bois Brule River."It might not be Martha's Vineyard but the area is very scenic; here is a view from US 2 near Iron River.
Economic recovery seems to have passed northwestern Wisconsin by. Along US 2, there just isn't much happening. This antique shop shows some retail creativity although it was already closed for the day around 3 pm.
Restaurants should be a possible source of income in a tourist area like this but we saw four of them closed and for sale along the twenty mile stretch of US 2 ending in Iron River. There are also a couple more for sale along US 53 closer to us.
This one can be had for a pretty low price.
There was no price on this one, a few miles to the east.
In Iron River, the antique store that we visited back in 2008 as it was going out of business is still empty. This large building on Main Street doesn't look like it is filled with thriving tenants either.
Across the highway on Main, there appears to be a good deal of activity at the post office, bank and Hunter & Steckbauer:
until your eyes stop playing tricks and you realize that is just a mural painted on the side of the bowling alley.
The mural was painted in 2008 and depicts that corner in the 1950's. From the dedication:
The mural was painted in sections by Kelly Meredith, Butternut and Sue Martinsen, Ashland,and is located on the north wall of Carignan’s and Uncle Bob’s Bowling Alley on the corner of South Main St. and Hwy2. Featured in the mural from east to west are the Iron River Pioneer newspaper office, a medical office, the Iron River Post Office, Macrae Walgreen's store and the First State Bank. All of these businesses faced north. The west side of the building facing Main Street, housed Hunter and Steckbauer, a dry goods store, Joe's Barbershop and Vacha's Restuarant.About halfway between Brule and Iron River, we noticed a giant arrow that had plunged into the hillside. It just missed the can of beer sitting on this chair. Surprisingly, these have not yet made it onto Roadside America!