Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Better Know A Town: Chippewa Falls

Posts on More Than Curds have been scarce recently.  Between some big life events among our staff (career changes, holidays, etc.) and winter storms keeping us from venturing outside much, we’ve had our hands full.  But we admit winter is a bad excuse for inactivity.  In fact, Wisconsin is very much alive in the wintertime and we decided to get out and explore.  This past weekend, MTC traveled to the beautiful city of Chippewa Falls.

Chippewa Falls (locally called simply “Chip’wa”) is the seat of Chippewa County and home to about 13,000.  First settled by the Ojibwa people, the name Chippewa is in fact the Anglicization of the name Ojibwa.  The word Ojibwa itself is thought to mean “the people who burn” in reference to the fire-curing of their leather moccasins to make them waterproof.  This tradition of cobbling is still seen in local shoemakers such as Chippewa Boots (from Chippewa Falls) and regionally with LaCrosse Footwear (from LaCrosse, WI) and Red Wing Shoes (in Red Wing, MN).  Chippewa Falls is also home to Seymour Cray, founder of Cray Research in the 1950’s which still builds some of the most powerful computers in the world.  But by far the most popular company in Chippewa Falls is Leinenkugel’s Brewing Co.  Leinenkugel (known simply as “Leinies”) has been brewed by the Leinenkugel family since 1867.  Although purchased by Miller in 1988, 95% of Leinies is brewed at the original brewery in Chippewa Falls, drawing from “Big Eddy”--the nearby spring from which their new craft line of beer gets its name.  Tour the brewery and stop by the Leinies Lodge for a free sampling of five of their beers, as well as any piece of Leinies merchandise you could ever dream of.  Need a Leinenkugel canoe paddle?  You’re set.

Chippewa is a fairly straightforward Northern Wisconsin town.  The logging industry which built the town in the 19th century attracted a sizable Scandinavian population, and a typical German influence is seen at area restaurants (like the delicious sauerkraut pizza) and a large Oktoberfest every year.  Irvine Park includes a zoo featuring tigers, cougars, bears, and other exotic wildlife.  Around Chippewa, there are ample trails for hiking, snowmobiling, skiing, and waterways for canoes, kayaking, and powerboats.  Fishing and hunting are extremely popular seasonal activities.  Most Chippewaens are very sociable and fill the taverns and bowling alleys at night.  Join them for a pint of Leinies and a plate of jo-jos.

Chippewa Falls is an easy 3 hour drive from Madison and only 1 and a half hours from Minneapolis.  A fantastic day trip!


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