Named after the Sac Indians, the Native Americans living and farming here in the 1700s, the area is still known today as the Sauk Prairie. The English explorer Jonathon Carver declared the Sauk Indian village as the “largest and best built Indian town” he had ever seen. With the introduction of European immigrants, the twin villages developed their own identities. The southern village became Sauk City and is the oldest incorporated village in Wisconsin. It was founded by the colorful Hungarian Count Agoston Haraszthy who, in 1847, built what is today Wollersheim Winery before heading to California where he became the father of the California wineries.
Winding your way north along the Wisconsin River, you’ll find the northern twin village of Prairie du Sac. This village kept its French fur trading name meaning “Prairie of the Sac Indians.” Prairie du Sac is home to many fine examples of turn-of-the-last-century architecture. The majestic homes along the tree-lined Park Avenue and Water Street take visitors back to early days along the river. Eagle Island in downtown Prairie du Sac is a one-of-a-kind location where Eagles roost each winter as they soar along the bluffs and dive head-long into the Wisconsin River.
Sauk Prairie Area Historical Society
The home of the Sauk Prairie Area Historical Society is located in the Tripp Memorial Museum in downtown Prairie du Sac. The museum contains a substantial archive of photographs and local historical information, as well as one of the state’s largest collections of mounted birds. Rotating exhibits bring to life the story of Sauk Prairie. The museum is open year-round Wednesdays through Saturdays, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., and during special weekend and evening events, such as their annual Christmas of Yesteryear. The Society maintains two historic country churches that are available for gatherings and weddings. To learn more, visit www.saukprairiehistory.org.
Sauk City Historic Park
The Sauk City Historic Preservation Committee has established a Historic Park on Water Street in the 600 block of downtown Sauk City. The park consists of a one-room schoolhouse, one of the earliest Sauk City shops—The Boots & Shoes—and the Hahn House. The Hahn House was home to the Hahn family in 1857 and still sits on its original location. It is unique in that it faced what was then the community’s two highways—the Wisconsin River on the lower level, where the family would have kept their canoes and boats, and Water Street on the upper level. Visitors can tour the buildings and Old Time Candy Shoppe on Saturday afternoons in the summer. To learn more, visit www.saukcity.net/historicpreservation.htm.