Wisconsin Towns and Places

Amherst - Last stop for the Tomorrow River


The Village of Amherst is an intriguing place.  I have visited several times and learned something new about it every visit.


When I think of Amherst, I think of the Tomorrow River. I learned of it when I was an avid kayaker. The draw was that it is pretty narrow above Amherst, about two miles to Nelsonville. 

The website Wisconsin River Trips says,


“The Tomorrow never gets very big before it gets to Amherst and ‘magically’ turns into the Waupaca River (an oddity, as Rivers, don’t usually change names like this).  Despite this being September and much of the state being in drought, I never once had to get out of my boat due to shallow water.  The reason why is because the river is largely spring fed, which keeps the water levels remarkably stable throughout the year.  And it also means the water is super clean and cold (my bare feet would get numb when they rested against the kayak walls).”


This photo is of a favorite place to put in with your kayak, at the Rising Star Mill in Nelsonville. 



Travel Wisconsin tells us,


“The Rising Star is one of the oldest mills in this part of the state and the last of its kind in Portage County. On Sept 10, 1855, Jerome Nelson purchased land and water rights from Anna and Charles Stoltenberg. The Mill was built around 1860 and operated as a business until 1984.”


There is a dam in Amherst that creates Amherst Millpond 90. 


The yellow arrow points to where the Tomorrow River enters into the Millpond. The dam is to the lower left and out of the photo.


After the dam, it becomes the Waupaca River, a tributary of the Wolf River.


This is a most engaging story. This is the Amherst Opera House, AOH for short. It was erected in 1902. AOH has written this:


“Most towns and cities, from small to large, had at least one opera house.  This was the golden age of the opera house, all aspects of American life converged in the opera house.  Little, if any, opera was actually performed in these buildings.  An opera house was a community entertainment and meeting hall.”


The AOH had been vacant for 47 years from 1970. In 2017, a group of people organized and created the AOH Co. Guild 501(c)3. It bought the building that same year. The Wisconsin Historical Society has helped the guild move forward.


The AOH officially opened to the public in 2019. A team of citizens is restoring the building, scheduling musical performances, and opening up the facility as a resource available to the community. The structure, history, and linkage to opera houses built throughout the state are sources of civic pride. 


Its architectural style is known as “Boomtown.” This style was used in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries near forestry developments and mining towns. The idea was to build a cubic building with one or two floors and employ an almost flat roof to maximize space. Then, a facade called a “pastiche” was added to give some style that extends beyond the roofline. This style was used throughout Wisconsin and can be found in almost every town.


Amherst, like many other towns and cities in the state, promotes human creative expression. Planet B is a most interesting creative stop while in Amherst.  You may be familiar with a BBC fiction drama series that depicted a virtual world where people play as life-size avatars, where you can be whatever you want to be. Planet B in Amherst is “a place to showcase and create.” Check it out!


This is The Landmark coffee house and restaurant. 


O’Brien’s Main boasts 20 craft brews on tap. I have seen one review that urges you to try the Bloody Mary. O’Brien’s offers live music. 


Angelina’s Salon offers men's, women's & kids' haircuts, styling, coloring & facial waxing. The building inside and out has a fresh new look.


The Amherst Academy teaches Raekwon Do to people of every age, focusing on youngsters.


A couple of photos of the city center.


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