Day Trip: Brodhead
Treats, Trails and Trains along the Sugar River
Your tour guide: Noreen Rueckert, Green County Tourism Director
Welcome to Brodhead, a community with roots dating to the 1800s, when the railroad first came to town along with railroad superintendent Edward Brodhead. Pick up a walking tour map at city hall to enjoy old photos and learn the history of the buildings in the downtown historic district. The barbershop on Exchange Street has been home to a barbershop since 1900, and many of the distinguished facades have remained unchanged throughout the years.
Downtown Brodhead has several interesting shops and an assortment of restaurants. You'll appreciate the small town atmosphere--pharmacist Doug Pinnow of Pinnow Pharmacy also serves as chamber president and mayor of the city.
Stop in at the Brodhead Depot Museum (open Memorial Day through September), which is operated by volunteers from the Brodhead Historical Society. Make sure you look up at the ceiling in the front room--you'll see the shadow of a wall that formerly divided the waiting room into separate sides for men and women. There's also railroad memorabilia, plus an engine and caboose outside open for exploration. The museum is home to many collections showcasing early Brodhead, including a dentist's office, memorabilia from various community bands and displays on cheesemaking and production of butter. Years ago, the Goldenrod Creamery was near the depot. The food history of Brodhead also includes a pickle factory, a popcorn factory and a potato chip factory.
Bring your bicycle or some comfortable walking shoes for the short trek to the replica covered bridge just north of the city on the Sugar River State Trail. This is a rail to trail conversion with connections to Albany, Monticello and New Glarus--all to the north. The original covered bridge was located on a road, not the rail line. In winter, when the horses were pulling sleighs instead of wagons, the roof over the bridge kept snow from falling on the surface. So to allow the sleighs to pass through, workers were hired to haul snow from outside to put on the path under the area sheltered by the roof of the covered bridge. The Sugar River runs through Brodhead and is a popular source of summer recreation. Several outfitters offer rentals of tubes and canoes, plus shuttle service.
Hunting for the Green County Barn Quilts in the Brodhead area is a true adventure in experiencing the roads less traveled. At first glance, it's all about the artistry of the quilt block--pattern, color and design. But then you notice the barns and their profiles against the topography of the surrounding fields.Â Gambrel, gable and gothic roofs. Red barns, yellow, white and turquoise.Â Some are "working barns"--busy with the rhythm of chores and milking at dusk and dawn. Others are "retired barns"--weathered, worn and worthy of admiration--standing the test of time.
One of the most unique barns in the area is the round barn with an apple-themed barn quilt at Ten Eyck Orchard. Just west of Brodhead on Hwy. 11, the Ten Eyck family offers 50 varieties of apples, plus pears and apples.
Curd is the word! Don't miss Decatur Dairy Cheese Cooperative on Cty. F northwest of Brodhead. Operated by Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Steve Stettler, this cooperative takes in milk from 70 area dairy farms to produce award-winning cheese. Specialties include Stettler Swiss (Swiss-lace cheese), Colby-Swiss (a marble blend), Brick, Farmers, Butterkase, Muenster and Queso Blanco. This factory is a great stop for squeaky-fresh cheese curds, with more than 30 flavors including Buffalo Wing, Wasabi, Peppercorn Ranch, Garlic and Herb and Mesquite.
Nearby Brodhead is the Sugar Maple Emu Farm on Pedee Road. This is a breeding, hatching and growing facility along with a retail and wholesale emu product business. You can meet these interesting creatures (call ahead for tours; farm is generally open May through October). Available for sale are emu eggs, meat and oil products.
Also nearby is a small Amish settlement to the north between Brodhead and Albany. You will find a furniture store, a bent and dent grocery, bulk foods, bakery, harness supply store and fabric and quilting supply store.
Stay awhile! Bed and breakfast options include Go-Inn Home and Sutherland House--both with friendly local owners who are actively involved as leaders with the Brodhead Chamber of Commerce.