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Filed under: Historic Places & Landmarks, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, Scenic Byways/Historic Routes, The Road Less Traveled

The History of Old Military Road…

January 8, 2012 by · 1 Comment 


In many previous posts I have espoused the picturesque beauty of the northwoods of Wisconsin and extolled the virtues of its plethora of rustic but peaceful camping areas. Anvil, Franklin and Carpenter Lakes have some of the most beautiful unspoiled campgrounds we have ever seen. But the northwoods also has a bit of interesting history attached to it as well: Old Military Road.

Originally the Old Superior Trail, a horse path created and used by the Native Americans who first inhabited the area, the road was used by these peoples for hundreds of years before being officially constructed as road between 1864 and 1870. Running from Fort Howard on Green Bay to Fort Wilkens in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, the road provided a route for rapid reinforcement of Fort Wilkins during the Civil War.

Military Road Sign

A sign details the route and history of the Road

Though created by the Native Americans, early trappers, travelers and drovers (livestock dealers) used Military Road as well, providing supplies for the copper mines and settlements in northern Michigan. Construction of this road during the Civil War era also made the timber resources of northern Wisconsin available to he rest of the nation. That’s quite a lot of history for one road…

Military Road--looking south toward Three Lakes, WI

Having spent a great deal of time camping and RVing in northern Wisconsin, I was a bit surprised to learn of this historical past for a road I had come to know so well. You see, for my family, Military Road has long been a playground. A beautiful wide tree lined expanse of forest road, traffic moves along this route at a slower pace than most state highways. For this reason, it has hosted a multitude of family bike rides, starting from when the kids were young and riding in the Burley trailer up to through their teen age years.

Military Road--looking north

Terry and I loved to run beautiful Military Road when training for a marathon and in need of a long run. Terry was also brave enough to roller-blade Military Road on several occasions—a feat I was never inclined to undertake because of the natural hilly and rolling quality of the terrain. Military Road has also taken us to some of the most beautiful and peaceful kayaking excursions we have enjoyed. And our kids still talk about the rides we would take in the summer, stopping to enjoy the delicious wild raspberries growing along the side of the road. In the winter months, we have spent pleasant hours snowshoeing along the road to reach the Anvil Trail System.

If you are ever in northern Wisconsin, it is worth a trip to visit Old Military Road. It is also the most scenic, picturesque route to get from the Eagle River area to Three Lakes, as long as you don’t mind keeping a leisurely pace of, say, no more than 40 miles per hour. But you will want to be sure to take time to enjoy the view–and to taste some of those wild raspberries during the summer!

Read more about Wisconsin campgrounds and things to do in Wisconsin.


One Response to “The History of Old Military Road…”
  1. Shirley Coleman says:

    Great pictures. Where is the sign located?

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