Wisconsin puts the lie to all those clichés about flyover land, cowflop redolence, hayseeds, corn-fed… you get the picture. Indeed, John Muir chose his words carefully when he wrote, “Oh, that glorious Wisconsin wilderness!”
isconsin is truly Midwestern. Incapable of braggadocio, it’s generally content to remain in the middle on most things — except such important issues as livability quotients, at which it tends to excel.
Superlatives about the place abound. It’s one of the top five most livable states in the nation. It’s the Midwest’s overall most popular travel destination. It’s one of the country’s most ethnically rich regions.
It boasts the planet’s most diverse glacial topography, countless glacial pools and streams, the United States’ middle section’s most amazing cataracts, and an immense North Woods region so big the national forest has to have two names.
Recreation is second to none — tops in bicycling (on and off road), cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, fishing, and scenic hiking trails. Some of the country’s largest events take place here and ethnic heritage sites are unrivalled.
From the first permanent Native Americans, who marveled at the fecundity of nature, visitors have come and become enamored. Blackfly-weary explorers, buckskin-clad and thunderstick-booming voyageurs, Jesuit Black Robes, lumberjacks, all saw opportunity but also magnificence. Muir, among those other immigrant Europeans, gaped awestruck at the mighty Great Lakes, the minor seas leading to a lush new home.
Fast forward a couple centuries and things haven’t changed all that much. Folks come for a visit or to attend university and genuinely miss it when they leave. In fact, more than a few stay. I’ve met some who came for a visit decades ago and loved it so much they return, often to the same cabin on the same lake, every single year.
Oh, and tranquility and aesthetics notwithstanding, this has as much to do with the people of Wisconsin who, I’m happy to report, are in toto clearly and proudly the type who will chat you up and consider you a friend five minutes after they meet you. This as much as anything is what makes national media rank the state so highly in national polls.
And if this makes us rubes, then we’ll happily plead guilty.