The railroad tracks, despite warnings to the contrary, actually makes for a good vista walk.
The railroad tracks, despite warnings to the contrary, actually makes for a good vista walk. (Julien Poncet)
Granted, the weather at the moment is reminiscent of a frozen arctic wasteland, and you may be wondering why humans bothered to inhabit any place this far north of the equator. Despite the cold, however, there remain some rather charming and largely overlooked spots in Appleton where the campus-weary student can retreat, or at least plan to scope out, once the wind chill allows us to slip into those comfortable double-digits again.
So either grab your fleece-lined wool gloves and the buffalo skin robe you salvaged from your latest hunting expedition or a comfy blanket and a steaming cup of coffee in the warmth of your very own cinder block dorm room, and at least consider checking the following places out:
Relics from an era when factory owners did not equate efficient with ugly, the factory buildings-turned-apartments along the river behind Colman are full of wonderful little nook and cranny-like spaces that are fun to walk around and explore.
Their atmosphere is due mainly to their light-absorbing brick facades, which glow in full sun by day, and dully absorb the lights of the paper factory directly across the river by night. They’re a bit like a compact rip-off of a European side street, but without the good food and language barrier.
If you look to one side of the short trail that meanders along the Fox, you’ll see the domes, bricks, bridges, and shiny exteriors of Lawrence University buildings that are directly across the river.
Look to your other side though, and you’re treated to a chain-link fence and the assortment of buildings and smokestacks that comprise the paper factory. It’s still a nice little trail to walk or jog along, and a place a lot of Lawrence students haven’t yet ventured.
The small park directly behind the con is a peaceful place, with enormous trees, a picnic area, and quite possibly the most ugly piece of statuary in the Western Hemisphere. It’s worth walking down there just to gawk at what some people will claim is a dancing circle of laughing children, but what can more accurately be described as a struggling circle of children fused at their ankles against their wills.
Either way, the park is well lit at night and has swings and playground equipment for that moment of necessary childhood regression that occurs around 10th week.
Over the bridge beneath the Union, and on the left-hand side of the road is another nice little grassy area with a set of railroad tracks that cut into the now-frozen Fox like a scene out of a ghost story.
They have a certain nostalgic quality armed with a chain and a sign warning the drunken and stupid from stepping onto them. Let it be noted, however, that the sign doesn’t stop most joggers, townies, or LU students.
Homes and Neighborhoods
Appleton’s founding fathers envisioned the city as the hub of a once-mighty lumber and fur trade, and planned on it eventually becoming a booming metropolis, and center of culture, industry, and development.
When that dream crashed and burned, they were left with a bunch of really nice houses, many of which are in the neighborhoods surrounding Lawrence.
Any route you take to get off campus will take you past a few houses either done in the Victorian era or in neo-Victorian style.
Many of these houses are inhabited by people who have spent their last four years living in a place with more than one room, and cable television. These are two other very good reasons to take a look.
The Victorian and neo-Victorian homes that are scattered throughout Appleton exist thanks to those visionaries who first planned Appleton as a paper mill power. (Julien Poncet)
The brick apartments used to house some of the paper mills that built Appleton, but as housing becomes scarce, the old becomes renewed, and can make for nice living quarters. (Julien Poncet)