Things to see and do at Historic Point Basse
Wakely Road leading to the Historic site.
Built by Robert Wakely, it is one of the oldest frame structures in Central Wisconsin. The entire house has been restored to original condition.
Built in about 1842 and the only Wakely-built building that remains standing at Point Basse, the Wakely House was built in the Greek Revival style which was popular in the United States from 1820 to 1860. It is Chicago-balloon-frame construction and one of the oldest homes standing in Central Wisconsin.
Inside you may find a member of the Wakely family or a neighbor demonstrating a domestic skill or telling you about the family and their lifestyle.
1860s Columbia School House / Visitors Center
Completely restored school house with many areas of interest for tourists.
The Columbia School House brings back memories of one's days in a one-room schoolhouse and gives others an idea of life in a one-room school.
Built during the 1860s, the Columbia School was moved to a site east of Wakely Creek. It is the goal of the Point Basse group to keep everything west of the Wakely Creek as period accurate (1840-1860) as possible. East of the Creek, modern life may make itself felt. The schoolhouse has been restored, as it was when it stood on Highway 13 and Church Avenue (Wood County). A modern bathroom addition and a handicapped ramp have been added. The basement has a modern kitchen.
When visiting the schoolhouse, you may find the teacher at her desk. She may tell you about her contract with the school district and her stated duties during the school day and after it. Maybe, instead you will learn what the school day was like, what your responsibilities were as a student or what was in the lard pail you brought your lunch to school in.
The Nature Trail
Cedar moss, tiny violets, and ginger root adorned the path of this year's first visitors of the Nature Trail at Historic Point Basse.
The nature trail is located in the modern area of Historic Point Basse.
The trail is about 2,200 feet long and has marker posts approximately every 100 feet. Trees, plants, and other items on the trail are described relative to the posts. A Nature Trail Guide book may be picked up at the school house.
The nature trail is open year round, and guided public and private tours are available. Volunteers are always welcome, as there is always plenty to do as the Citizens of Point Basse continue their work in restoring this area.
The Trading Post (Log Cabin)
A log cabin built in Grand Rapids (now Wisconsin Rapids) about the mid-1800s now stands on a rise on the banks of the Wisconsin River at Historic Point Basse. It was discovered on land originally owned by Robert Wakely when an old house was being torn down to make room for a new building. The cabin was found under a more modern facade that covered it. The cabin was given to the members of Historic Point Basse if they would move it. The logs were numbered. The house disassembled, moved to the site and reassembled just like Lincoln logs. A fireplace was added. A local young man did the chinking of the cabin as his Eagle Scout project. It now serves Historic Point Basse as a trading post.
The first business Robert Wakely started was a trading post so he could meet a very real need of supplying the Indians with their needs and a market for their furs. Many new settlers were following the Wakelys to the pinery and also had many needs.
At the trading post, you might find a clerk or a neighbor who is tending the post in the absence of the proprietor. You might also meet a traveler who is passing through with his tales of life on the frontier. You will learn about the life of the attendant or have an opportunity to experience the art of the trade.
At the Pioneer Festival, children are given a piece of fur when they enter the gate that they may take to the trading post to trade for a candy stick. How hard a deal can they drive?
The Blacksmith Shop
In the early frontier days, the blacksmith was the heart of the community. With an anvil and a hammer, a blacksmith could make everything else he needed. Then he could make everything everyone else needed. A good blacksmith could provide the community with the tools to improve their daily life.
A blacksmith shop was important to the Citizens of Point Basse. One has been built to represent it. When the blacksmith is in, he will make objects for you and explain the importance of all of his tools of the trade.
The shed is modeled after a mid-1800s shed at the Oliver Kelly farm in Minnesota. It has been built for multiple purposes. When the site is open, any one or all of the bays may be open. One bay holds the icehouse. Here you might find someone making ice cream and giving out samples. Someone else might be coming to get ice to keep drinks cool. During the winter, the Citizens of Point Basse Harvest Ice on NEPCO Lake.
Another bay has a woodworking shop where you will find period woodworking tools. In some cases you may be able to actually use the tools.
A third bay contains a sleigh and farm tools similar to what the Wakelys may have used. In the fall at the Harvest Fair, apples may be being pressed for cider or corn shelled and ground for cooking and chicken feed.
The Wakely Road Bridge
Newbold (Louie) Wakely, son of Robert and Mary, is believed to have built the Wakely Road Bridge in 1893. It is one of the few stone-arch bridges remaining in the state. It is currently on the list of Wisconsin Endangered Historic Places and was admitted to the Wisconsin and National Register of Historic Places in 2000. The best view of the bridge can be seen from the footbridge across Wakely Creek.