Fort Crawford was founded 200 years ago

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Fort Crawford stood guard over Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, from 1816 until 1856. Now, the Fort Crawford Museum displays the history of the fort, its city, and the many lives that crossed here. (Courier Press file photo)

This year is the 200th anniversary of the establishment of Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien. In commemoration, the Prairie du Chien Historical Society worked with Wisconsin State Sen. Jennifer Shilling to introduce a resolution into the State Legislature (Senate Joint Resolution 91) honoring the 200th anniversary. The resolution was ordered immediately and passed both houses last week. Shilling and State Rep. Lee Nerison will present a copy of the resolution to the Prairie du Chien Historical Society and the Villa Louis at the Fort Crawford Museum this spring.

In conjunction with the 200th anniversary, a new exhibit will be installed at the Fort Crawford Museum and a book will be published.

The Prairie du Chien Historical Society is one of 25 organizations in the state of Wisconsin that will host a traveling exhibit on John Muir. This exhibit is produced by the Wisconsin Historical Society in honor of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the National Parks Service. It will be in Prairie du Chien Nov. 8-18. Because of the historical society’s initiative, Prairie du Chien is the only community in southwest and west central Wisconsin that will host the exhibit.

All of these activities and programs bring people to Prairie du Chien. The Prairie du Chien Historical Society, which celebrates its own 20th anniversary of incorporation in 2016, is a vibrant and intrinsic part of the community. It provides great service and benefit. Therefore, tourism council membership in the Prairie du Chien Historical Society is appropriate.

The Prairie du Chien Historical Society is an active organization, providing many significant contributions to the community and the region:

•It owns and maintains the Fort Crawford Hospital, a national historic landmark.

•It operates the Fort Crawford Museum, thereby opening the hospital to the public.

•It installs permanent and changing exhibits in the hospital and the Prairie du Chien museum buildings.

•Maintains a website that gives detailed information on the history of Prairie du Chien:, which is accessible by computers, tablets and smartphones.

•It maintains a Facebook page, announcing events and connecting people to the museum website.

•It offers special programs at the Fort Crawford Museum and elsewhere in the community that highlight sites open to the public for only these special events, including tours of privately-owned historic buildings as well as tours of six historic area cemeteries.

•It offers additional historically educational and entertaining events, such as musical programs, reenactments, movies, speakers and more.

•It opens the Fort Crawford Museum for Prairie du Chien’s Bald Eagle Appreciation Days in February.

•It offers free admission to Crawford County school children visiting the Fort Crawford Museum as part of a school trip. Special programs are developed for the interests of these groups.

•It provides a space to display traveling exhibitions.

•It has published two books on Prairie du Chien, “Prairie du Chien: French, British, American” and “Old Fort Crawford and the Frontier.”

•It produces award-winning exhibits on aspects of Prairie du Chien history.

•It provides a service to the Prairie du Chien Area Chamber of Commerce and city of Prairie du Chien by answering questions on the history of the community.

•It is included in Great River Road publications and maps.

•It provides historic information and tour guides for special tours, such as the American Queen stop and themed bus tours.

•It preserves the political, economic, cultural, educational, and social history of Prairie du Chien by collecting, maintaining, exhibiting and making available for research objects, photographs and manuscripts.

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