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Baraboo

A Selected History
  • Also available as: Dust Jacket Hardcover
  • Published: August 2008
  • Format: Perfect Bound Softcover(B/W)
  • Pages: 321
  • Size: 6x9
  • ISBN: 9781436317894
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Baraboo provides a selected history of the city of Baraboo, Wisconsin, and the surrounding region. The book focuses on six features of the Baraboo area that make it distinctive from other towns, and that help explain how a Midwestern city of modest size has had such a major impact on the rest of the state, nation, and world. The six features of the region that the book highlights are: 1) the Baraboo Bluffs; 2) the Ho-Chunk Nation; 3) the Ringling brothers; 4) the Badger Army Ammunition Plant, 5) the Great Wisconsin Manhunt of 1961; and 6) the International Crane Foundation. The Baraboo Bluffs have been designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior and a “Last Great Place” by the Nature Conservancy. Part 1 reviews the geological history of the Bluffs and describes the biological attributes that make them unique. The author speculates that the Bluffs may have helped inspire Aldo Leopold to write his environmental manifesto, A Sand County Almanac, in a converted chicken coup near Baraboo. The impact of farming, logging, and development on the Bluffs is examined, and concerns about this “Last Great Place” are raised. The history of human habitation in the Baraboo area is provided in the section on the Ho-Chunk Nation. The author presents evidence that the Ho-Chunk are descendants of the mysterious effigy mound builders, the ancient people responsible for the effigy mounds found only in Wisconsin and along the adjacent edges of boarding states. A biography of Joann Jones, first president (and to date the only female president) of the Ho-Chunk nation is presented. The impact of gaming and other social conditions on the future of the tribe is examined. Baraboo is the home of the Ringling Brothers’ Circus, “The Greatest Show on Earth.” In Part 2, the Ringling brothers’ ancestry and childhood experiences are examined for factors that may have contributed to their rise from humble beginnings to uncontested kings of the entertainment world. The history of the Ringling Brothers’ Circus is detailed, and the impact of the circus on Baraboo’s economy and culture are described. Recent efforts to restore the Al. Ringling Theatre and difficulties confronting the Circus World Museum are examined. Built in a matter of months during World War II, the Badger Ordinance Works (later to be renamed the Badger Army Ammunition Plant) was at that time the world’s largest powder plant. The author describes the history of Sauk Prairie, the construction of the powder plant, and the impact the BAAP has had on the region in Part 4. In particular, this section focuses on governmental efforts to ameliorate the pollution caused by the operation and decommissioning of the facility. Wisconsin’s largest manhunt occurred in 1961 and was coordinated by Sauk County Sheriff, Mike Spencer. The lives of three individuals associated with the manhunt, Deputy Sheriff Jim Jantz, Sheriff Mike Spencer, and volunteer Jerry Coughlin, are examined in Part 5 of the book. The crime, manhunt, and subsequent trial are briefly reviewed, and the current status of the principle players is discussed. The biographies of three young men who founded the International Crane Foundation are presented in the final section of the book. The author traces the history of the ICF from its shaky start as a converted horse farm to its current status as a major environmental advocacy organization. The unique qualities of cranes in general, and Whooping Cranes in particular, are discussed. Current efforts to restore endangered Whooping Cranes to North America are described. Although the book focuses on six features that make Baraboo unique, it also describes conditions that confront all towns and small cities across the country that are experiencing rapid development. The reader is left to ponder how the unique social and cultural heritage of a community can be maintained as the forces of change converge on it.

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Perfect Bound Softcover(B/W)
Price: $19.99
Dust Jacket Hardcover(B/W)
Price: $29.99