Menomonie, Wisconsin History/nelsona7204
Menomonie Wisconsin and the Dunn County area is home to many natural attractions providing activities for the whole community to do during all seasons of the year. Red Cedar State Trail, Lake Menomin and Lake Menomin Park, and Devil’s Punchbowl, in Menomonie, provide places to go hiking, skiing, fishing, snowmobiling, canoeing, kayaking and more. Areas located out of Menomonie include Rock Elm, where a meteor hit, and Spring Valley, home to Crystal Cave.
Lake Menomin and Lake Menomin Park[edit | edit source]
Lake Menomin is one of the more noticed natural attractions in Menomonie. It sits right next to downtown Menomonie and spans 1,405 acres wide. Fishing is allowed on the lake but is regulated. The lake is stocked mainly by the Wisconsin DNR and some outside parties. Some species of fish that can be found include Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye. It is done to re-establish self-sustaining fish populations, provide research data of the stocking the lake, and to give recreational options for fishermen. The lake is actually considered to be an impoundment. 95% of the water flow is received from the Red Cedar River, but the water quality of the lake is low due to the water that is given off of Lake Tainter, which also feeds into the lake.  
Lake Menomin Park is located on the eastern shore of Lake Menomin and originally was part of the Dunn County Health Care Center property. In 1982 the 147 acre area was turned into a park; another thirty four acres were reserved specifically for native prairie grassland. The park includes hiking trails, picnic tables, and fishing access through trails. 
Spring Valley Crystal Cave[edit | edit source]
Located about 18.5 miles from Menomonie lies Crystal Cave in Spring Valley, Wisconsin. It was discovered in 1881 by William and George Vanasse. Originally named Sanders Corner Cave, it was later commercialized as Crystal Cave by Henry A. Friede, an amateur geologist from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.Crystal cave is considered the state’s longest cave and has multiple levels, stalactites and stalagmites, and mazes of passageways. The cave descends over 70 feet underground and the temperature averages around 50 degrees during rain or shine. The location also offers well-lit tours, the Sinkhole Nature Trail to explore, picnic areas, and students can even pan for and identify gemstones that they can keep. 
Devil's Punchbowl[edit | edit source]
Devil’s Punchbowl is located about four miles south of Menomonie and was formed by post-glacial flooding. The 2.9 acre area was formerly known as Black’s Ravine after a civil war captain who used to own the property. Activities at the site include hiking, site seeing, and birdwatching. The area is mainly used for scientific research by students. There are many speculations that the area is haunted by spirits, orb sightings and gnomes. The area is breathtakingly gorgeous and is a sight to see for residents of the area.
Rock Elm Crater[edit | edit source]
The Rock Elm Crater just north of Nugget Lake County Park, is listed in the Earth Impact Database as a 6 kilometer structure that is preserved in sedimentary rock and dates back to the Ordovician period. The structure was first discovered in 1942 by Bill Cordua, who was a geology professor from UW-River Falls. Geographically, it looks like a circular indentation that is about 4 miles in diameter. From fossil findings and the rocks scattered around the area, it is estimated that the asteroid hit around 400-450 million years ago. The impact of the asteroid was going at speeds close to 70,000 miles per hour and created a fireball that was 25 times brighter than the sun.  The area was hit by the asteroid was thought to be a shallow sea at the time. The crater is difficult to spot on the surface due to erosion and age, as much as 800 feet of sediment was deposited and eroded. 
Red Cedar State Trail[edit | edit source]
Red Cedar State Trail located in Menomonie is a 14.5 mile long trail that passes through Irvington and Downsville and the Dunnville State Wildlife Area. Along the trail there are prairies, marshland bottoms, forest and farmlands to explore. Activities on the four seasonal Red Cedar State Trail include walking, hiking, bicycling, canoeing and kayaking, skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. The trails are flat, making it easily accessible for hikers of all ages. The trail is managed by the Wisconsin DNR and is part of the Chippewa Valley Trail System and when it is to its full completion, the trail will have a projected 80 miles of trail, stretching from Cornell, through Chippewa falls and Eau Claire to Durand and Menomonie. The Red Cedar Junction rail line once operated the Knapp and Stout Company, which was the world’s largest lumber producing company in the 1800’s. After it became abandoned in 1973 it was acquired by the Wisconsin DNR which decided to turn it into a recreational trail that is used today. Two historical sites can be found along the trail, south of Downsville. One of them is called the ‘Downsville Cut’, which has a 40 foot tall wooden derrick that was used to load stones onto railroad cars. A pile of cut stones a little farther south of that form a small arch. The trail runs along the beautiful Red Cedar River. Lots of wildlife can be found as well as lots of diverse plant life. Several different species of wildflowers grow and the trail is shaded by mainly oak, birch, elm, and aspen trees; maple trees as well as red and white pines can also be seen. White-tailed deer, raccoons, chipmunks and a variety of birds can be seen throughout the daytime. 
Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area is located in Red Cedar State Trail and offers 707 acres of both preserved and restored wooded hills, wetlands and prairie areas. Hiking and cross country ski-trails are popular for the areas activities. There is a 60 foot tower that is one of the highest points in Dunn County, showing views of the underlying country side. In 1980 Richard and Marian Hoffman donated 280 acres of Elk Mound farmland to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for the formation of Hoffman Hills. 
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