Mapping Wisconsin Shelters


I have been working on a history project that I hope will get some of my fellow Wisconsinites involved in. I started a page on Facebook that is geared towards the Wisconsin experience of the Cold War. There are publications and scholarly works done on the Cold War, but I would like to hear the first-hand stories from Wisconsin experience. The page is new, but I have big plans ask that people involved with the project.

One of the first projects I am trying to get in motion is mapping where fallout shelters were in Wisconsin using the Google My Maps app. This app allows you to customize maps by adding pins, descriptions, and pictures. Using the map feature, I began pinning the locations of fallout shelters I know of in the state. I made the map open to the public, so individuals can go on and share locations that they know of.

Fallout shelters are not the same as bomb shelters. Fallout shelters were intended to protect people from the deadly fallout radiation dispersed from a nuclear blast, not the blast itself.  Some people built private shelters to hold their family. Public shelters were in buildings where anyone could go in if the situation called for it. These shelters could be in banks, libraries, schools, office buildings, churches, etc, and were marked with a black and yellow sign , which designated that the building had a fallout shelter. The Federal Government stocked them with two weeks worth of supplies (Water, food, medical supplies, radiation monitors, etc) to support the designated capacity of people. These shelters were marked all over the United States.

Fallout Shelter Ad
(District Fallout Blog)

This is one of the many projects I am up to right now. I am working on something big related to fallout shelters…more on that later. I hope you will take some time to check out my Facebook page and get involved with the project. For some of my seasoned followers/readers, what do you remember about fallout shelters? Did you know someone who built a private shelter in the yard? Or maybe you remember seeing public fallout shelters stocked and ready to hold people? Comment with your experience.

My Visit to the Wisconsin Historical Museum

Molly and I spent the day  down in Madison, Wisconsin. There are a number of places to visit down there, but the Wisconsin Historical Museum has always been on my list of places to visit. The museum has a wonderful building on the corner of West Mifflin Street and North Carroll Street. Admission to the museum is based on suggested donations. Although not required, the donations you give help preserve Wisconsin’s history.

Suggested Donations


Children (under 18)-$3

Family -$10

History Lover Members (Historical Society Membership)-FREE

The museum spans four floors, with the gift shop and information desk located on the first floor as you walk in. There are books, souvenirs, and other trinkets sold in their gift shop. I was impressed by the vast selection of Wisconsin history books they had. I thought about contacting them about stocking my Markesan history book in their store. The museum also has an online store where these publications and other wonderful gifts can be purchased.

As we made our way up to the second floor we will entered the People of the Woodlands exhibit featuring the history of Native Americans in Wisconsin. I thought it was a very interesting history that was presented. I liked seeing the tools and weapons that were used by natives, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a few arrowheads and stone-carved axes similar to what I have in my own collection.

As we continued to the third floor we entered the Frontier Wisconsin, The Immigrant State, and Making a Living exhibits. Wow! The objects and history on display blew me away. As we walked off the elevator we were greeted by a life-size replica of a dairy cow standing on a pile of nuts & bolts. Molly and I both thought it was strange, but the symbolism made sense to us after reading the description.


What does it symbolize?

As we made our way up to the fourth and final floor we entered into the Wisconsin Innovations and Sense of Community exhibits. The Sense of Community exhibit has some fascinating displays featuring political movements. I liked the life-size models of famous Wisconsin politicians, and I have always had a niche for the La Follette family history and Progressivism in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Innovations exhibit was quite amazing, and I actually have thought about blogging about ideas and inventions hatched in Wisconsin. All of the items on display were very interesting and had informative stories, but I chuckled and posed for a photo-op at the Vitamin D display. I have heard of Vitamin D being added to foods, but when I saw a Schlitz beer can that said, “Sunshine Vitamin D,” I found it amusing.

Vitamin D Schlitz Beer!

Vitamin D Schlitz Beer!

If you are in Madison, Wisconsin, you must visit this wonderful museum. I am glad I finally had the opportunity to visit and tour it. The museum has a great mix-up of visual and interactive history for children, so do not hesitate to bring your young ones to learn some history about Wisconsin. Be sure to visit other Wisconsin Historical Society museums and historic sites around the state.


Other Wisconsin Museums

Comment on your experience at Wisconsin Historical Society museums! Visit for more information on Wisconsin history. Be sure to “Like” them on Facebook for the latest news and fun history facts.

Taking Shelter at UW-Oshkosh

Most universities have procedures in place for just about any emergency event. The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh‘s emergency information can be found in the Emergency Procedures Guide (EPG). It outlines almost any emergency procedure that could happen on campus or the surrounding area. Two emergency categories that seem very extreme, but also very relevant to our time, are the bomb threat and active shooter emergency procedures on campus. I assume most people would agree that a bombing or shooting is the worst emergency scenario a college campus and college town could ever face, or so you would think.

Not so long ago our country was preoccupied with the constant threat of thermonuclear war. It was a concern of the biggest cities and smallest towns across the United States. The constant fear of annihilation from thermonuclear weapons characterized the Cold War that lasted from 1945 to 1991. There were even concerned people in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

U.S. Castle Bravo Hydrogen Bomb Test-1954

Could you ever imagine being prepared to leave lecture and take cover in a fallout shelter? Some UW-Oshkosh Alumni may remember it. In October 1961 President John F. Kennedy urged Americans to prepare for nuclear war by  building fallout shelters as a means of protection. The Office of Civil Defense soon got underway locating, marking and stocking public fallout shelters around the nation. Fallout shelters were even located in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and the majority of the ones in Oshkosh were said to have been on campus.

Fallout Shelter at UW-Oshkosh

Fallout Shelter at UW-Oshkosh

Pictured above is one of the shelters marked somewhere on UW-Oshkosh campus. Do any of my readers know where this is? Comment if you know the answer. This sign is a grim reminder of the turbulent world our parents and grandparents once lived in. Hard to believe that at one time students at our university, as well as others, were taught an emergency drill for nuclear war.