Saturday, November 26, 2016

Discover Historic Estabrook Park

The waterfall is a beautiful spot to visit in all seasons

My local park is Estabrook.  In all seasons, I am there. Biking. Hiking. Disc golfing. Playing beach volleyball (there's a seasonal net). Kicking a soccer ball.  Using the playground. Photographing birds or flowers. Watching fishermen. Enjoying a friend's company at the Biergarten. Petting dogs near the dog park. Checking out the rad moves of the skateboarders with my son. Even after visiting there for the past 11 years, there is still more to discover.

On Thanksgiving day, I decided to walk through the park, and checked out some places I had recently read about.  Have you read the Milwaukee Notebook?  Carl Swanson writes the blog. It's a great way to learn more about the history of Milwaukee, and he often covers parks. I decided to find the Indian rock he wrote about which had been used to grind corn, and thought it was very easy to find, based on his directions. Just look for the restroom building by the tallest tower, and it's just behind it next to the paved trail. Estabrook has a rich history of fossils, Indian settlement, mining, and swimming beaches. Browse the Milwaukee Notebook and you'll learn more about it.
The large holes on the left were apparently used to grind corn
As I walked through the park, I noticed a lot of work has been done recently.  Estabrook Park has an active Friend of Estabrook group, which you can follow on their Facebook page. They also cover the park history pretty well on their Friend's group page. On the Facebook page, I learned that volunteers on the burdock brigade recently cut down lots of burdock. They also lead hikes, do garden construction, and river clean-ups. You can join them for these activities. I noticed some new seedlings, repaired stair railings, and wooden benches where there are views of the river. I saw a man reading a book on one of the benches and thought it was a good spot.  This time of year, many hunters are sitting outside waiting to get their deer.  He was doing something more peaceful with a beautiful view of the river.

Some of the work has been paid for from Estabrook Beer Garden profits. The county receives about 20% back on any profits made by the various beer gardens, so it's good business for the parks, and for the beer gardens.  I think people who visit the beer gardens think it's a good deal. Milwaukee County Parks netted about $1 million in 2015, and I would believe it was even more in 2016 because there have been more opportunities to sell food and beer.

Under construction

Kilbourntown House is at the south end of the park.  It was moved here, and was originally in the downtown area called Kilbourntown. Owned by the Historical Society now, it is open to the public on weekends during summer.  If you visit now, you can peek in the windows and see the period furnishings.  There's a nice herb garden out front where I picked fresh herbs for turkey stuffing.

If you're a Harry Potter fan, like my son, you may want to go through the tunnel from Wilson Drive into the park.  Lately it's been painted in lots of graffiti. We've never seen any death eaters there, just for the record.
Tunnel from/to Wilson Drive
Go to the far south end of the park by Capitol Drive and you can see the bridge where most of the time you'll find fishermen.  You can hike the river trail from here back through the park to the north end. The trail is often at two levels and at this time of year, you'll have great river views, the sound of moving water, and maybe some geese overhead.  Work is being done on the entire length of the Milwaukee River Parkway Trail to prevent erosion. Head south and you'll find the Arboretum.  Head north and you'll go to Lincoln Park.  Sometimes I've seen bikes here, though biking on this trail is discouraged. I'm told it's because of the erosion, and the difficulty there is in sharing such a narrow path.
It's shallow here and often there are fishermen in waders
These geese are heading south

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