“Wisconsin’s Lost Towns,” Rhonda Fochs


Dunnville is located on CH Y off Hwy 25 in Dunn County. It is very close to the mouth of the Red Cedar River, twelve miles south of Menomonie. Indeed the river meets and empties into the Chippewa River It hosts the Dunnville Wildlife Area to this day.

In its day it was a logging community. It had a creamery, a sandstone quarry, a stone mill and in 1854 a company store. The company in town was Knapp, Stout and Company, a major logging outfit that controlled 48,000 acres of virgin timber.

It was said to be a rowdy place. The village was actually located on the north side of the Red Cedar River. It was served by two stagecoach runs per day. It would also get a rail line to Menomonie.

Because of the river, Dunnville became a river port. The rail lines came in and business at the port declined, and so did the town. There was a large sandstone quarry there boasting some of the best sandstone in the US.  That helped the town stay alive through the turn of the century.

I could not find much left of Dunnville.  I wandered around on the south side of the river and found a few families living there.

I spotted this building, built in 1908. It looks like an old school house. It now appears to be a home, which has happened frequently throughout the state.

Someone has put up a scene where the lady is chasing the man with her rolling pin, and boy oh boy he is running, losing his hat in the process!

in her book, Rhonda Fochs said there is one remnant of the village that has been relocated to highway 25 nearby. It is a wonderful five acre park featuring the restored 1856 farmhouse of the Woodlawn family. There were seven children in the family. All together they lived there from 1857 to 1867.

One of the children, Augusta, was nicknamed Caddie woodlawn. Caddie would write children’s books. It turned out her granddaughter, Carol Ryrie Brink, wrote a historical fiction about her grandmother, Caddie, in a book entitled “Caddie Woodlawn, a frontier story.” This book received the Newbury Medal in 1936 as “The most distinguished children’s book of the year.” It also received the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958. It is still available.

These are some photos of the park. If driving in this area along Hwy 25, I recommend you stop, perhaps even have a picnic.

Picnic area at the park.

Herman Smoke House

The Flick Log House with outhouse!

This marble bench is most interesting. It is in memory of Donald Albert Flick, 1917-2001. The bench is inscribed with family members dating back to Mary Anna Flock, 1865-1959. The bench is also inscribed with other members of the Flick family over time.

Another item of interest at the park is a large stone at the grounds. It is, named the Dunnville Sand Stone. It was quarried at a location first discovered in 1882 by surveyors for the railroad. This kind of stone has been used for many buildings. The active stone quarries in this area are up river and on the north side of the Red Cedar River.

One more subject of interest: the Red Cedar River-Chippewa River and their trails all come to meet in the Dunnville Wildlife Area.  This wildlife area is about two miles southeast of the village.

This is a view of the Red Cedar River upstream from the bridge crossing at which the Red Cedar River and Chippewa River trails meet each other.  This section of the Red Cedar River is affectionately known as “The Dunnville Bottoms.” There are a few sand beaches and people can walk across the river, though many swim, cool off and picnic there.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR) writes:

“The Chippewa River Trail is 30-miles long extending from Phoenix Park in downtown Eau Claire, at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers, and travels south along the Chippewa River through a wide variety of habitat including river bottoms, prairies, sandstone bluffs and wetlands. The trail joins the Red Cedar State Trail in the Dunnville Wildlife Area near the confluence of the Red Cedar and Chippewa Rivers and ends at the town of Durand.”

“(The Red Cedar River Trail) is a 14.5-mile rail trail that shadows the steep walls of the Red Cedar Valley from Menomonie to its connection with the Chippewa River State Trail. Along its route, the trail passes through the communities of Irvington and Downsville and the Dunnville State Wildlife Area. The trail passes by prairies, marshland bottoms, forests and farmlands, including sandstone bluffs and other unique rock formations.”

The abbreviated version of those two descriptions is you can walk these two trails from Menomonie to Durand, about 18 miles the way the crow flies, about 45 the way people walk on the trails.

It is here where the two trails meet, at the south end of the bridge