The Clintonville area is built on a foundation of historical intrigue. Clintonville is widely known as the home of the four-wheel drive vehicle, as the first all-wheel drive cars and trucks were first crated in Clintonville in 1908. The Four Wheel Drive Museum, located at 105 E. 12th St., can be toured by anyone looking to learn more abut the history of the Four Wheel Drive Corporation and how it helped to put Clintonville on the map.
The history of many other aspects of Clintonville are highlighted at Pioneer Park, which boasts numerous buildings to tour. Each one tells a different story, and all are packed with historical items that show what life in the Clintonville area was like through the years. Operated by the Clintonville Area Historical Society, the park features the following attractions: History House, a two-story frame house built in 1961; Clintonville’s first town hall and fire department; Doty-Besserdich House, made of stovewood walls with pieces piled on top of one another and held together by mortar; Stavemaker Cabin, built in 1869 by Ralph Denn to serve as his stave-making factory and home; and one of the most unique collections of stones in the United States, including Pioneer Park’s Great Wall of China.
The Marion, Embarrass and Bear Creek areas also feature historical interest that are unique to each community. These communities were founded along waterways such as the Pigeon River and Embarrass River, and are in very close proximity to the Wolf River, which was the lifeline for area communities throughout the 19th century. Embarrass was named after the Embarrass River, whose name derives from a French word for impede or entangle, because logs so often snagged along the waterway. Bear Creek started out as a lumber camp in 1850 when the state of Wisconsin was just two years old. In those days, the only inhabitants of the area were Menominee Indians. Like many pioneer towns, Marion, Bear Creek and Embarrass went through the stages of Indian campsites, logging points and trading centers.
The Clintonville area is a treasure trove of historical wonders waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re visiting for a day, a week or longer, you’re sure to find items of historical relevance around every corner.