Bike Fun Report: Tiny Museum Ride

Under warm, clear, sunny skies, Saturday’s Tiny Museum Ride exposed 21 Poky Pedalers to a few of Stevens Point’s cultural gems. During our 8-mile loop ride, we visited three tiny museums and spent a bit of time exploring what each had to offer.

Purists may quibble about whether our three destinations were actually museums or not. But PPSP is happy to disregard any such nuances in the interest of maximizing Bike Fun.

fire house bikes

Historic Fire House No. 2 operated by the Portage County Historical Society was our first stop on the Tiny Museum Ride

Our first stop was Historic Fire House No. 2 on Strongs Ave a few blocks south of downtown. This building was built in 1885 and is the oldest remaining municipal building in Stevens Point. In its heyday, it served as the fire station for the railroad and business districts on the south side of the city. Now, it is operated by the Portage County Historical Society as a museum that includes numerous pieces of fire fighting equipment as well as other historic photos and artifacts.

Karen and John Zinda of the Portage County Historical Society were kind enough to open the museum for us to explore. They gave us a tour of the building, both upstairs and down. We learned about the equipment on display, including an antiquated fire truck and hose wagon, and we looked at old pictures and newspaper articles about notable fires in Stevens Point’s past that adorned the walls.

fire house trucks

Poky Pedalers exploring the artifacts on display at Historic Fire House No. 2

I want to give a big ‘thank you’ to Karen and John Zinda for taking the time to open Historic Fire House No. 2 for the afternoon and showing us around.

From there, we rode north to the Stevens Point Sculpture Park on a spur off the Green Circle Trail just east of Second St and north of NorthPoint Dr. This 20-acre park opened in 2010 and features artwork from local, regional, and national artists. New pieces are introduced each year, so there is always something new to examine. We meandered through the Sculpture Park on our bicycles while Poky Pedalers peeled off to examine various pieces that caught their attention.

Regarding the bug situation in the park, we were very fortunate. A few days before our Poky Pedal, I had ridden through and found the bugs to be less than pleasant. But during the Tiny Museum Ride, the wind seemed to work in our favor as the bugs didn’t bother us at all within the Sculpture Park. The ability to casually take in the sculptures on display without being swarmed by mosquitos and their friends certainly enhanced our Bike Fun.

sculpture park bikes

The Stevens Point Sculpture Park provided a beautiful setting to appreciate works of art from the seat of a bicycle

Our third museum was the Wisconsin Forestry Hall of Fame on the UWSP campus. The WFHoF is housed in a kiosk in a foyer of the Trainer Natural Resources building just north of the campus library. (This tiny museum should not be confused with the Conservation Hall of Fame in the Schmeeckle Reserve Visitor Center.) The WFHoF is sustained by the Wisconsin Society of American Foresters and was founded in 1984 to recognize individuals who have contributed significantly to the practice and progress of forestry in Wisconsin.

As we examined the plaques on display at the WFHoF, I singled out a few of its members and briefly described their contributions to the practice of forestry that merited recognition. Some members made their contributions well over a century ago, while others were active during our lifetimes.

We are fortunate to live in a state with vast forests. Yet it is easy to take all this forestland for granted. Museums such as the WFHoF remind us that it is only because of the efforts of its inductees and their colleagues that we have such an abundance of forestland across our state.

Exiting our third museum, the Tiny Museum Ride came to an end. Over the course of the afternoon, Poky Pedalers were exposed to some history of Stevens Point dating back to its early years, some art in a scenic park setting, and some awareness of our state’s efforts to enhance its natural resources over the past 150 years. Having also enjoyed a nice bike ride on a beautiful sunny day, this all combined into a splendid afternoon of Bike Fun.

I would like to add one more note about our Poky Pedal. Two elected officials from Marathon County shared Bike Fun with us on the Tiny Museum Ride. Our Poky Pedalers included Katie Rosenberg, who represents District 1 on the Marathon County Board of Supervisors, and Pat Peckham, who is the District 1 alderperson for the City of Wausau. They had heard about Bike Fun with PPSP and wanted to see for themselves what Poky Pedals are all about as they mull over the idea of creating something similar in the Wausau area.

It is always constructive when elected officials participate on Poky Pedals to experience Bike Fun for themselves. These themed community building events involving urban transportation bicycling allow residents to engage with their city in uncommon yet meaningful ways. This is valuable for instilling civic pride and encouraging residents to put effort into improving the wonderful place where they live. I want to thank Supervisor Rosenberg and Alderperson Peckham for taking interest in PPSP. With their leadership, hopefully the Wausau area can accelerate their progress in making bicycling better.

With the Tiny Museum Ride behind us, it is time to look forward to our next Poky Pedal. The Upcoming Poky Pedals webpage and the 2016 Bike Fun Calendar are the key resources when making your Bike Fun plans with PPSP.

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