By Sue Sveum | Photo by SV Heart Photography | Sponsored by Mineral Point Chamber of Commerce
As the third-oldest city in Wisconsin, Mineral Point boasts a lot of history, beginning tens of thousands of years ago when the Driftless Area was formed. Bypassed by the last continental glacier, no flattening, sand, or gravel (drift) was left in its wake. Instead, you’ll find lovely rolling hills.
“If you’re a runner or bicycle rider, you’re in for a challenge around here,” laughs Carole Spelić, program director at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts. “We definitely have hills!”
Established by immigrants from Cornwall, Mineral Point is known as “the most Cornish city in the U.S.A.” Spelić says much of the downtown architecture comes from tradi- tions and techniques settlers brought with them to Wisconsin — along with some much beloved cuisine.
“Your visit won’t be complete without a Cornish pasty meal and figgyhobbin dessert,” Spelić says.
As pandemic restrictions start to loosen up a bit this summer, Spelić calls Mineral Point the perfect getaway for people who want to travel but are uncomfortable going too far just yet. “Visitors can enjoy themselves and feel safe at the same time,” she stresses.
“If I could suggest only one thing, it would be walking the city streets and experiencing how people have interacted with each other and the landscape over the last nearly-200 years,” she says. And if you’re just feeling driftless, Mineral Point is a great place to relax without any particular goal.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Spelić says there are plenty of fresh-air locales, including three state parks nearby and several trails in town. For hikers, she recommends Merry Christmas Mine Hill Trails and Prairie. It’s a part of Pendarvis, a Wisconsin Historical Society site. “A web of hiking trails takes you up a hill, through a prairie, past old mining equipment and down to a sturdy stone building,” she explains, adding, “From the top of the ridge you get a great view of downtown.”
And downtown is a place you won’t want to miss. “Getting out and experiencing the city feels as if you’ve traveled much farther out of Wisconsin,” Spelić says. “Mineral Point has some of the best-preserved historic buildings in the state.” Make sure to stop by the Sweet Shop for a little treat. Or if you’re there early in the morning, you may
be lucky enough to watch cheesemaking at the award-winning Hooks Cheese Factory.
“Then pop into a few of the many artists’ studios and galleries around town, or discover other unique shops, cozy bars and one-of-a-kind restaurants,” Spelić suggests. “And make sure to stop and chat with the artists and shop owners — many have been in Mineral Point for decades and have interesting stories to tell.”
A brisk walk from the downtown is the 1860s Italianate mansion, Orchard Lawn, a gem of Mineral Point, which sits on nine acres. For an additional dose of history, check out the Railroad Museum. “It’s the oldest surviving depot building in Wisconsin,” Spelić says, “and the displays and photographs are an amazing reminder of what mining life was like.”
If one-time events are more your style, Mineral Point has plenty of those, too. Plan a Driftless Weekend by booking overnight lodging so that you can enjoy special art, film,musicandhistoricalcelebrations.Visit the Mineral Point Chamber of Commerce website for all of the festival listings…then take your pick.