This summer I spent some time in Wisconsin’s northwoods, including a visit to the Vilas Historical Museum in Sayner. Instantly recognizable by the huge figures of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox out in front, the museum houses a vast and impressive collection of local artifacts. Eight examples of local handicrafts from the museum’s collections are now online in the Wisconsin Decorative Arts Database.
Sayner was home to Carl Eliason, credited with inventing the world’s first snowmobile, the “Eliason Motor Toboggan,” patented in 1927. In addition to his early snowmobile prototypes, the museum’s collections include a group of rustic furniture made by Eliason at the age of 21.
Other artifacts reflect the importance of the lumber and tourism industries in the northwoods, including folk art carvings made by men in local logging camps and summer camps in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
–Posted by Emily Pfotenhauer