Archaeological Society and Spirits of Wyalusing Visit Park

A perfect fall Saturday greeted the campers and visitors of Wyalusing State Park on September 24, 2011. The threatening rain clouds dissolved into a bright, warm sunny remainder of the day. Park visitors were busy with morning chores, hiking and discovering new trails, visiting with friends over a roaring campfire, or watching the soaring birds glide over the Wisconsin Ridge.

Elsewhere in Wyalusing State Park, the Wisconsin Archaeological Society was planning the rededication of the Signal Hill Mound site. The Friends of Wyalusing and the park staff were making ready for the Spirits of Wyalusing Past to be held later that evening.

Wisconsin Archaeological Society Visits Signal Hill Mound Group 100 Years Later

Society Photo taken 1911 c.a.

Nearly 100 years ago, to the day, the Wisconsin Archaeological Society visited the "proposed Mississippi-Wisconsin River state park" to create state wide interest in the need for preservation and education of Indian mounds of Southwestern Wisconsin.  Part of the festivities included posing for the photo on the left.

The members of the Society traveled by steamboat from Prairie du Chien to the boat landing at the base of the bluff, walked up to the Indian Mound group, and heard speakers, one of which was the daughter of Robert Glenn.

Additional information can be found in a previous blog. (Click Here...)

Society Photo taken 2011
This Saturday, September 24, 2011, the Wisconsin Archaeological Society revisited the same mound group - the Signal Hill Mound group. Once again, part of the activities featured posing for a photograph, in the exact same spot. This photo is shown on the right.

This time, members of the society traveled by automobile. Festivities included a picnic lunch. The society members heard from many speakers celebrating the event. Among the speakers were: Robert "Earnie" Boszhardt, president of the Wisconsin Archaeological Society; Robert Birmingham, Executive Director of the Friends of Aztalan; Bruce Klang, president of the Friends of Wyalusing State Park; and Mark Cup, Executive Director of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway Board.

Additional Photos can be found by clicking here....)

Pumpkin Carvers leave their Legacy 
As the Wisconsin Archaeological Society were digging the fine weather (Sorry! Just had to fit it in somewhere!) campers' families, and park visitors were busy carving pumpkins for the evening festivities.
 The carvers, led by Carol Paske, carved over thirty pumpkins provided by the Friends of Wyalusing State Park. Members of a local 4H group and a Prairie du Chien Girl Scout troop participated in the yearly event. This year, a very special visitor from Japan also participated. It was her very first pumpkin carving.
Adults assisted in the cutting open and scooping out of the pumpkins. The pumpkin carving is held at the park's maintenance building.  Friendly contests among the carvers to see who could carve the most interesting scenes or the most ghoulish faces on their pumpkins spurred on the creativity of all. 

When all of the pumpkins had been carved and the seeds had been swept up, the tired group loaded the pumpkins onto the park's electrically powered vehicle. The pumpkins were delivered and placed around the trail. Candles were placed into the candles in preparation for lighting. The carvers and their families were invited to a sub-sandwich lunch with cake, bars, and beverages which were provided by the Friends of Wyalusing State Park.

The Main Event - Spirits of Wyalusing Past
As the sun was slowly melting into the Mississippi River, the area around the Peterson Shelter, and Point Lookout began to take on an eery glow. The golden leaves of the oaks gave way to lighted torches and glowing pumpkins. The Spirits of Wyalusing Past were ready to make their appearance. 
A crowd of over 175 people milled around the Peterson Shelter making ready for the annual torchlit trail leading to five close-by areas where the spirits would have a short presentation. 
This year's events had very special guests. Don Kasparek, a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps, his wife, and Pat Peterson, the daughter of Harv Peterson, were also present. Additional information about the Kaspareks can be seen  here.....
 A silent auction was also held during the Spirits of Wyalusing, items featured on the auction were: a picture quilt featuring scenes from the park, a hand crafted bowl, a wooden shelf with pegs, a wooden organizer, a bird house, two small beaded doll house bowls, and a hand painted nature scene on shelf fungi. The silent auction was supervised by Marilyn Crubaugh.

The park guests were divided into five groups. The groups were led along a torch lit path by volunteer guides stopping at each of five stations where they were met by a Spirit of Wyalusing.




Mary Elise Antoine played a trapper







Bruce Klang played Jacob Shrike





Lucas and  Jason Kuntz sang songs from the past







Gary Eldridge demonstrated flint knapping






Paul Kosir played CCC Cecil




After visiting all five spirits, the guests returned to the Peterson Picnic Shelter and had treats which were provided by the Friends of Wyalusing State Park.  Winners of the silent auction items were announced.  Over half of the visitors traveled more than 100 miles for the Spirits of Wyalusing Past. 1/3 of the visitors experienced the Spirits of Wyalusing for the first time. 2/3 of the visitors had been guests two or more times. The farthest visitor was from Japan.

Additional Photos here.

The Friends of Wyalusing State Park is a non profit organization with a mission of supporting, assisting, and promoting the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with interpretive, scientific, historical, educational, and related visitor services at Wyalusing State Park. The Friends of Wyalusing were the very first Wisconsin State Park's Friends group to have an endowment fund. More information can be found here.