Sunday, January 3, 2016

City of History: Kenosha, Wisconsin

Yesterday, despite the fact that we've officially entered winter and the coldest part of the year, I ventured an hour south of Milwaukee to the lakefront city of Kenosha.  Kenosha is best known for its production of automobiles for Nash, Rambler, Hudson and AMC between 1902 and 1988, and has remained a city rooted to its past.  It even has historic, fully-operational streetcars that run throughout the city.

I have only been to Kenosha a few times, most memorably to visit the Bristol Renaissance Fair a few summers ago, but had never been to the downtown area.  I knew they had a lot of interesting museums, and I took the time to visit two of them, the Public Museum and the Civil War Museum.  But first I had to see the lakefront.

I knew from seeing other photos online and video on TV, that Kenosha has a very nice red lighthouse that jets out into Lake Michigan.  And I knew I wanted to add to my photographic collection of lighthouses with this one.  What I didn't know was that this part of the lakefront has 3 lighthouses including matching red and green striped ones, the green one close to its rocky coast and the red one further out into the lake.  I tried to get a good photo of pairs of these lighthouses, and a couple of them turned out better than I expected.  I had used my telephoto lens when I was in Port Washington because the lighthouse there was so far away from land, but since the red lighthouse was so close, I was able to use my wide-angle lens (and my polarizing filter) to get the lighthouse pairs.

The lakefront also has some cute sculptures in its Harborpark.  My favorite was this pig with a tuba:

After getting as many photos as I could at the lakefront before the sun rose too high, I headed over to the Public Museum and the Civil War Museum which, conveniently, sit side-by-side down the street. 

The Public Museum was small, but free (donations encouraged), and their main exhibit was a history of the Kenosha area which went back all the way to before the ice age, and included indigenous animals, the life of Native Americans in the area, and the bones of a mammoth that was discovered there.  They also have a second floor of rotating exhibits. 

The Civil War museum (which costs $9 in admission) was fascinating.  Every hour on the hour, they have a 15-minute 360 degree film where they show the lives of Union soldiers which feature professional reenactors and was filmed at Old World Wisconsin.  They also present a complete history of the war with makeshift buildings including stocked general stores, a train depot, and boarding houses, each with newspaper clippings of the war plastered to their walls, so you get a year-by-year account.  Like the Public Museum, they also have a second floor of rotating exhibits.

There was one more museum I wanted to visit, but I ran out of energy.  That was the Dinosaur Museum.  That will be something for another day in Kenosha. 


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