We are continuing our Wisconsin County culinary tour in Iowa County and Iron County Wisconsin. At opposite ends of the state these two counties are about a five hour drive apart. Northwoods wilderness and lakes are reviewed alongside rolling rich agricultural lands.

Iowa County

Iowa County in Wisconsin by David Benbennick
Map of Wisconsin highlighting Iowa County by David Benbennick

Iowa County is 762 square miles and has a population of 23,700 with the County seat in Dodgeville. Other cities and villages include:

  • Mineral Point
  • Avoca
  • Barneveld
  • Cobb
  • Highland
  • Hollandale
  • Linden
  • Rewey
  • Ridgeway

The current agriculturally based farming economy supports many of the jobs here. The earlier history is preserved in Mineral Point. The Wisconsin State Historical Society has preserved the Cornish mining history in the Pendarvis historical site. This part of the state was a major commercial center before Wisconsin became a state. The mining of lead and zinc were large industries in the early 1800’s. Cornish pasties were popular lunch meals for the miners. A folded pastry around a beefy stew center provided mid-day nourishment. The county is home to three Wisconsin State Parks; Blue Mounds, Governor Dodge and Tower Hill State Park. Tower Hill contains an 1831 “shot tower” off the edge of a cliff where molten lead was dropped from the top of the tower and it formed a round globular shape on the way down and fell in a vat of cold water at the bottom. These lead balls were then used as shot for early rifles. The Military Ridge State Trail also traverses the county. The west end of the trail is at Governor Dodge State Park.

The WisconsinMade artisan partner in Iowa County is Little Creek Press is the Mineral Point publisher of a number of books for children and adults.

Edible Antics Iowa County recommendations include:

  • Taliesin was the home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. He first designed the home for himself in 1911. From that time until his death in 1959, Wright continuously changed the home and the surrounding landscape, which included buildings that he had designed for his family. At the time of Frank Lloyd Wright’s death, “Taliesin” referred to the home, the surrounding 600-acre estate, and 4 other Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures.
  • Hook’s Cheese Company in Mineral Point has won numerous awards for their Parmesan cheese (try it with a nice Merlot), Cheddar cheese (with a glass of Syrah), Colby cheese (with a Malbec) and their Blue cheese (with a glass of Cabernet)
  • Uplands Cheese Company is the maker of award winning Pleasant Ridge Reserve. It is the most-awarded cheese in American history, having won Best of Show in the American Cheese Society’s annual competition three times (2001, 2005 and 2010), and having also won the US Cheese Championships in 2003. It is the only cheese to have won Best of Show three times, and the only cheese to have ever won both of the major, national cheese competitions.
  • Botham Vineyards is an original Wisconsin winery and one of only a handful with estate vineyards producing authentic Wisconsin wine.
  • Lake Louie Brewing in Arena provides quality beers including Tommy’s Porter, one of my favorites.
  • The Quality Bakery in Dodgeville provides sweets for all.
  • Brewery Creek brewpub in Mineral Point for good beers and historic lodging.
  • The Mineral Point Opera House began in 1915 as a vaudeville house. Over the years, it has been used as a movie theater and a venue for a variety of live performances. After extensive recent restoration, it is open again.
  • Mineral Point Gallery night happens four times a year; the first for 2016 is April 2. Local galleries open for tours and visitors can see the artists at work.

Iron County

Iron County in Wisconsin by David Benbennick
Map of Wisconsin highlighting Iron County by David Benbennick

Iron County population is 5,900 people living on 757 square miles. It is the third least populated county in Wisconsin. The County seat is Hurley with other cities and villages of:

  • Montreal
  • Mercer
  • Manitowish

The northern border of the county includes some Lake Superior shoreline and the state border with the upper peninsula of Michigan. The Gogebic Range of mountains is in the northern portion of the county and the Turtle Flambeau Flowage covers most of the southern portion of the county. Here is another map of Iron County showing the extensive undeveloped land.

Edible Antics Iron County recommendations include:

  • In Mercer Claire d Loon weighs 2,000 pounds, stands 16 feet tall, and lends credibility to the town’s claim to be the “Loon Capital.”
  • The Plummer Mine Headframe is part of an iron mine that opened in 1904, the Plummer Mine shaft angles downward from the headframe following a vein of ore into the earth to a depth of 2,367 feet. The Plummer Mine closed in 1924 and is the last such headframe standing in Wisconsin. From an engine house, cables ran up over the wheels at the top of the headframe and were attached to elevator cars, lowering miners and equipment underground and pulling ore cars back to the surface.

Edible Antics continues our tour next week in Jackson County and Jefferson County where we are looking for people, places or edibles that are all made with pride and passion in Wisconsin.

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