NATIONAL WISCONSIN DAY
On February 15, National Wisconsin Day recognizes The Badger State.
Rich in copper, lead, forest and fertile farmland, Wisconsin became the 30th state. In 1634, French explorer Jean Nicolet was the first European to reach Wisconsin while seeking a Northwest passage to China.
A mining boom, not fur trading, led to the nickname The Badger State. According to oral history, the miners burrowed into the hillsides much like badgers for shelter instead of setting up more permanent homesteads. The first wave of settlers to the area also began the uprooting of the Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Chippewa and other indigenous people.
Early in Wisconsin’s settlement, dairy production began to take root. By the turn of the century, the state became known for its dairy farms and synonymous with cheese.
Mining, dairies, and breweries grew one after the other. An influx of German immigrants in the 1850s brought a new brand of dreamers. Brewers cropped up across Wisconsin satisfying the thirst of The Badger State. As with brewers in other regions of the country, the 18th Amendment of 1919 prohibiting alcohol drowned out much of the competition leaving only a handful after the legislation was repealed in 1933.
From Lake Michigan to Superior and numerous river and lakes in between, Wisconsin offers ample opportunity for water recreation and sport. There are also year-round trails perfect for summer hiking or substantial snow for winter activities.
HOW TO OBSERVE
Discover a taste of Wisconsin. Join National Day Calendar as we explore the 30th state’s history, people, and culture. Uncover Wisconsin’s hidden treasures and explore all her amazing landscapes! Use #NationalWisconsinDay to share on social media.
In 2017, National Day Calendar began celebrating each state in the order they entered the union starting the week of Independence Day and ending with Hawaii. We highlight a small part of each states’ history, foods and the people who make up the state. There’s so much more to explore!
Ice Age National Scenic Trail – Madison
Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway – Saint Croix Falls
Big Foot Beach State Park – Lake Geneva
Copper Falls State Park – Mellen
High Cliff State Park – Sherwood
Natural Bridge State Park – North Freedom
Whitefish Dunes State Park – Sturgeon Bay
Peshtigo State Forest – Crivitz
Friendship State Trail – Hilbert
Circus World Museum – Baraboo
Wisconsin Maritime Museum – Manitowoc
Wisconsin Historical Museum – Madison
Madeline Island Museum – La Pointe
Wisconsin Automotive Museum – Hartford
National Railroad Museum – Green Bay
Door County Maritime Museum – Sturgeon Bay
Milwaukee Art Museum – Milwaukee
Stonefield – Cassville
Ripley’s Believe It or Not – Wisconsin Dells
Yerkes Observatory – Williams Bay
Glory of the Morning - Chief - (c. 1709 - c. 1832)
Ho-poe-kaw (Glory of the Morning) became the first woman to ascend to the chief of the Ho-Chunk people. After her father’s death, at the young age of 18, she stepped into the role with the consent of her people. She is also the first Native American woman by name in a written record by a European writer. According to legend, Glory of the Morning lived to be approximately 121 years old.
Frank Lloyd Wright - Architect - (June 8, 1867 - April 9, 1959)
Frank Lloyd Wright’s visionary architecture spans the country from coast to coast. From residential to commercial design, Wright developed timeless and modern styles captured the world’s imagination.
Laura Ingalls Wilder - Author - (February 7, 1867 - February 10, 1957)
Most known for her autobiographical series of frontier life, Little House, Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up moving from place to place until her family settled in the Dakota Territory. Her novels were developed into a television series and are beloved by young girls around the world.
Arthur Davidson - Businessman - (February 11, 1881 - December 30, 1950)
Arthur Davidson along with his brothers and William S. Harley founded the Harley-Davidson Company in 1903. Two friends came together to motorize the bicycle. Their backyard operation grew into an iconic American industry.
William S. Harley - Engineer - (December 29, 1880 - September 18, 1943)
William Harley imagined a motorized bicycle and in 1901 designed an engine to fit the two-wheeled invention. By 1903, he and the Davidson brothers founded the Harley-Davidsons Company and began producing motorcycles for the American public.
Georgia O'Keeffe - Artist - (November 15, 1887 - March 6, 1986)
Georgia O’Keeffe’s magnified abstract paintings and sketches brought her critical recognition. Much of her work focused on nature, specifically florals, but O’Keeffe also completed realistic architectural pieces with stunning results. The Radiator Building, Night, New York (1927) and Brooklyn Bridge (1949) are two examples.
Thornton Wilder - Playwright - (April 17, 1897 - December 7, 1975)
The best selling novelist, Thornton Wilder, received the Pulitzer Prize three times, once for fiction and twice for drama. In 1927, his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey became an American classic. In 1938, Wilder became the only person to win a Pulitzer Prize in both fiction and drama when the play Our Town earned him his second prize. Then in 1942, with the chronologically fractured where actors play multiple roles depicting life unchanging, Wilder received his third Pulitzer Prize for The Skin of Our Teeth.
Curly Lambeau - Professional Football Player - (April 9, 1898 - June 1, 1965)
Player and coach, Earl “Curly” Lambeau co-founded the Green Bay Packers in 1921. Not only would he play for the team and coach others, but Lambeau’s name would grace the Packer’s stadium, and he would be elected to the inaugural class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
Mildred Harnack - Historian - (September 16, 1902 - February 16, 1943)
With her husband Arvid Harnack and others, Mildred Harnack helped form a Nazi resistance group. Called the “Red Orchestra” by the Gestapo, collected and passed along information to U.S. and Soviet officials. After her arrest in 1942, Harnack was sentenced to death. Her execution took place on February 16, 1943. Other members of Red Orchestra suffered the same fate, including Arvid Harnack.
Orson Welles - Director - (May 6, 1915 - October 10, 1985)
Well known for his Shakespearean roles, Orson Welles also made a name for himself in radio and directing. Welles shook up the world with a radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds in 1938. In 1941, Welles set the standard for quality filmmaking with the debut of Citizen Kane.
Les Paul - Musician - (June 9, 1915 - August 13, 2009)
One of the pioneering names in electric guitars, Les Paul began his career playing music and establishing a jazz band. Paul revolutionized the music world when he invented one of the first solid-body electric guitars in 1941.
Gaylord Nelson - Senator - (June 4, 1916 - July 3, 2005)
Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962, Gaylord Nelson proposed Earth Day as a way to spur national efforts to raise environmental awareness. The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970.
Joyce Westerman Hill - Professional Baseball Player - (December 29, 1925 -)
Joyce Westerman Hill played catcher and first base from 1944 to 1954 for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Her first team was the Kenosha Comets.