Harold’s Favorite Places – Iowa County

The settings of Harold Thorpe’s novels and children’s books are deeply inspired by real-life places he has been to in Iowa County, Door County and Butte des Morts, Wisconsin. In his Harold’s Favorite Places posts, he’ll take you to locales that are close to his heart, and integral to his family history and writing.

Mitchell True Value Hardware

Mitchell True Value Hardware

In downtown Mineral Point, Wisconsin is a business that’s anchored the 200 block of High Street for an astounding 106 years. And it’s been run that whole time by the same family.
Customers entering Mitchell True Value Hardware are still greeted by a wooden counter backed by a long, high pegboard hung thick with hand tools.

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Ridgeway, Wisconsin farm witnesses 116 years of Wisconsin highway changes

Ridgeway, Wisconsin farm witnesses 116 years of Wisconsin highway changes

The story of my cousin’s fourth-generation Iowa County farm is also the story of a highway. In Wayne’s lifetime, the highway has gone from a narrow expanse of crushed gravel to a two-lane cement road to a four-lane divided highway that now bypasses the small towns it once wound through. For the past 116 years, from their front yard, the Paulls have watched the changes.

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Linden School, Iowa County, Wisconsin

Linden School, Iowa County, Wisconsin

My grandmother, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Stephens, the inspiration for Mary O’Shaughnessy in my O’Shaughnessy Chronicles novels, graduated from Linden High School, in Linden, Wisconsin, in 1893. She then taught there for five years. Linden School was built in 1882. It was the only school in town, serving all grades. When it burned in 1913, it was replaced by a brick school that stood until 1996.

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Avoca School

Avoca School

Avoca Union Free High School was one of 42 free high schools established in 1875 and 1876 in Wisconsin. When my mother and her sister attended high school in Avoca in the early 1920s, the idea of automobile transportation was just taking hold.

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Avoca Train Depot

Avoca Train Depot

In 1856, the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad laid tracks through what would later become the village of Avoca (fictionalized as Willow in my books.) After the coming of the railroad the future village of Avoca boomed as a regional trading post. In this article, I explore the history of the Avoca train depot and link to old photos and articles.

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