Prairie du Chien
Prairie du Chien Travel Wisconsin Welcome Center
211 South Main
PO Box 326
Prairie du Chien, WI 53821
Telephone: (800) 732-1673
Prairie du Chien is Wisconsin’s second oldest community, second only to Green Bay. The first catholic congregation was founded here by Jesuit missionary Father Marie Joseph Dunand, who came up the river from St. Louis and settled here in 1817.
Prairie du Chien is a French phrase that can be translated as “Prairie of the Dog.” While many people mistakenly think that this must refer to prairie dogs, most historians believe that it refers to a Native American chief who lived in the area whose name translated into French means “dog.”
Prairie du Chien has a number of unique restaurants and shops that are worth a visit, including the Valley Cheese and Fish Shop, selling catfish, turtle meat and other Mississippi River delicacies, all personally caught and prepared by the shop’s owner.
The Fort Crawford Museum – Great River Road Interpretive Center stands on the site of the old fort and tells visitors about Prairie du Chien’s past. Zachary Taylor served at Fort Crawford before he became President of the United States. Jefferson Davis served here as well before he became President of the Confederacy. Also preserved is a prison window from the cell where Black Hawk was said to have been imprisoned.
Because of Fort Crawford’s connection to pioneering medical doctor, Dr. William Beaumont, the museum also includes a series of exhibits that chronicle the advances in medicine through the past three centuries.
The luxurious and stunning Villa Louis – Great River Road Interpretive Center attracts thousands of visitors every year. The historic home is open May through October. St. Feriole’s Island, where Villa Louis is located, has a number of historic sites and other things to see, including a sculpture garden and one of the few remaining examples of an early French cabin.