Written by Jessica Meadows
Growing up in Ringle as a child, I always asked my parents:
“Why do we live sooooo far out?”
As a Ringle native born to a quaint little hobby farm on the Eau Claire River, I took for granted the scenery, wildlife, and natural beauty of my surroundings. I was spoiled with abundant nature and access to rivers, streams, and rich farmland.
As an adult, I realize that Ringle isn’t “so far out.” In fact, moving back to Ringle has brought me full circle to the beauty that I now share with my own children, off the same river I once swam in as a kid.
The town of Ringle is located just east of Wausau, and a little over 1,700 Marathon County residents call Ringle their home. Formed in January of 1901, Ringle has an abundance of natural scenery, typical of Central Wisconsin.
Here are 5 things I think you should know about Ringle’s rich past and present . . .
- Bricks from RINGLE BRICK COMPANY make up many homes and buildings throughout Marathon County (including owner John Ringle’s iconic home in Downtown Wausau).
You may have seen them before . . .
Beautiful red brick farmhouses and homes sprinkled throughout the Marathon County area and the Midwest. Little did you know, though, that many of these distinctive reddish-orange bricks were created in Ringle, Wisconsin, at the Ringle Brick Company.
John Ringle owned and operated a sawmill in the area in 1889. Upon discovering a clay deposit 30 feet thick (providing him the opportunity to create bricks), Mr. Ringle closed his sawmill and began making bricks. On two separate occasions, his brick company burned to the ground but was rebuilt.
As a businessman and leader, John Ringle was County Clerk of Marathon County, was elected to the Wisconsin General Assembly and State Senate, served as Mayor of the City of Wausau, and was a Wausau Postmaster. Mr. Ringle also served on the Wausau City Council and as Chair of the Marathon County Board of Supervisors. Near the end of his career, he was elected for a second time as the Mayor of Wausau. Mr. Ringle was also one of the original stockholders and directors of the First National Bank, serving as Vice President and President.
The Ringle Brick Company manufactured its last brick in 1943, 20 years after the passing of Mr. Ringle in 1923. Ringle bricks still can be found today all across Central Wisconsin. Mr. Ringle’s original home, located just across the street from the Marathon County Courthouse, can still be seen and appreciated today for its distinctive red brick.
- The MOUNTAIN-BAY TRAIL includes several stops in Ringle.
The Mountain-Bay Trail traverses its way through Ringle on the 18-mile stretch through Marathon County. The trail was opened in 1996 for public hiking, biking, and snowmobile use. Named for two geological features it connects — Rib Mountain in Marathon County and Green Bay in Brown County — the Mountain-Bay trail is built on the former Chicago and Northwestern right-of-way and stretches a total of 83 miles from the trail head in Weston through Ringle and onward to Green Bay.
Throughout Marathon County, including a few stops in Ringle, is a series of interpretive signs picturing the early history of Marathon County.
The Mountain-Bay Trail caresses the banks of the Eau Claire River in Ringle just off HWY JJ, offering bikers, walkers, and hikers a glimpse of a beautiful river bend and tempting them to take off their shoes to dip their toes in the shallow water.
The trail itself is made of crushed limestone and is generally flat, making it ideal for all kinds of summer and winter use, including snowmobiling. Thanks to the 2017 Wisconsin Act 87, ATVs and UTVs are allowed on the roads in Ringle; however, they are prohibited on the Mountain-Bay Trail.
A large parking area can be found in downtown Ringle just off Abt Road (formerly Town Hall Road) near the Ringle Municipal Center. All you have to do is get out of the car and decide if you want to head west toward Wausau or east toward Green Bay. The view’s GREAT in either direction!
- The EAU CLAIRE RIVER winds its way through Ringle after it departs the Eau Claire Dells from the northeast.
Speaking of natural beauty, the Eau Claire River flows toward Wausau and the Wisconsin River, offering shallow-water kayaking and tubing. The beauty of the river is something that can’t be overlooked . . . It’s flanked on each side by agricultural countryside dotted with maple, birch, cedar, and red and white pine trees.
Jumping in the water at the County N bridge, paddlers and floaters alike can enjoy the natural mix of scenery and wildlife that will treat their eyes as they descend into Weston and onward to several pickup points along the way.
The river is teaming with wildlife, including fish, birds, and a variety of mammals, including deer. Several species of crayfish make for great entertainment as they dart in and out of the rocky riverbed crevices. Anglers and kayakers alike will enjoy a trip along the Eau Claire River through the picturesque Ringle countryside.
- Marathon County’s STATE-OF-THE-ART LANDFILL is in Ringle.
Since December 1980, Ringle has been home to the Marathon County Solid Waste Department (MCSWD), located off of HWY 29 just east of Downtown Ringle.
Developed to dispose of municipal, commercial, and industrial waste safely, this state-of-the-art landfill and hazardous waste facility serves over 16 counties across the state of Wisconsin, from Eau Claire in the west to Shawano in the east and from Eagle River in the north to Stevens Point in the south.
In May of 1997, Marathon County opened a permanent Hazardous Household Waste Collection Facility at the site, and in July of 2010, the County’s Hazardous & Special Waste Collection Site was relocated to the facility as well.
Currently, the facility averages about 90 vehicles per day, which deliver 500 to 5,500 tons of refuse!
In 2015, MCSWD opened a new 30-acre landfill area called Bluebird Ridge Landfill that will provide disposal capacity for Central Wisconsin until 2029. During construction (watch video footage here), $3.2 million dollars was brought back into the local economy with construction of the landfill by using local contractors and locally sourced materials.
The Marathon County Solid Waste Department in Ringle is helping Central Wisconsin reduce waste and recycle more. Need help figuring out what to do with your waste or recyclable materials?
Give their Info Line a call at 877-270-3989. They’d be happy to help!
- Jacky Luetschwager (and her grandparents) started RINGLE HARVEST DAY 22 years ago.
Perhaps one of my favorite events in the fall is the annual Ringle Harvest Day. Entering its 22nd year, the event takes over the Downtown Ringle area, hosting over 120 vendors selling a wide variety of items literally from A to Z (antiques to zucchini!).
Local 4H and Ringle Fire Department volunteers operate food stands against a backdrop of beautiful fall foliage, live entertainment, a petting zoo, and happy bunches of great Midwestern folks.
The event got its start in 1996 with an idea from Jacky Luetschwager, owner of Town Hall Trinkets. Jacky is a third-generation “picker.” Yep . . . Jacky and her grandparents would pick through the local landfill to find hidden treasures like antiques and furniture. They then repainted and fixed them up as a way to bring in some additional income for their family. Today, the fancy term for this is “upcycler” — someone who reuses discarded items to create a product of higher value or quality than the original.
Jacky Luetschwager and her grandmother. (Photo courtesy of Jacky Luetschwager.)
Back in 1996, Jacky used what she learned from her time with her grandparents to hold her first sale. By year 10, Jacky had somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 people attending her sale in her driveway in Ringle. Over 40 vendors came and sold their antiques and crafts as well. Jacky used this as a way for the local 4H Club to raise money from food, pumpkin, and craft sales.
Her kids were always part of 4H and they were able to showcase their 4H animals in a petting zoo as well.
At the Ringle Centennial Celebration in 2001, Jacky was asked if she wanted to move her entire operation to the downtown area, just off of Town Hall Road near the Ringle Municipal Center. Always wanting to give back to the people of the greater Ringle area, Jacky had the Ringle Fire Department and local 4H Club raise money by selling food and asked for non-perishable food donations to support St. Florian’s Food Pantry, as well as Homme Home of Wittenberg.
The event is definitely a group effort, and Jacky credits all the success to the many, many people and groups that have helped make it a great event for Ringle over the last 20+ years. In fact, in the Spring 2018 edition of Flea Market Style, Ringle Harvest Day was featured as a Reader’s Favorite Flea Market and Vintage Show.
Always on the second Saturday in October, the Ringle Harvest Day event takes place this year on Saturday, October 13, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., rain or shine.
This year, for the first time, Ringle Harvest Day will feature a live cooking event with Inga Witscher from PBS’s “Around the Farm Table.” Inga’s live cooking demonstration will begin at 1:00 p.m. The event is free for all to attend. You can get more information online at https://www.facebook.com/RingleHarvestDayFleaMarket/ and https://ringleharvestday.blogspot.com
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One thing is for sure . . .
Ringle may be a small town, but it’s a place filled with wonderful people who want to give back to their community and who hold a deep sense of pride and respect for our natural resources and environment.
I invite you to come visit Ringle and fall in love with its natural beauty and charm the way I did as a child — and then again as an adult!
Communications & Marketing Coordinator | North Central Health Care
As the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at North Central Health Care (NCHC), Jessica Meadows is passionate about being able to use her creative talents to connect people to healthcare, resources, and networking that will impact their life in a positive way. Prior to joining NCHC, she was a Creative Director and leader at a marketing agency in the Stevens Point area. With almost 20 years’ experience in print, web, social media, video, radio, and public relations, it was important for her to connect back to her roots here in the Wausau area, where she and her husband raise their two young children. When she’s not busy at an event or volunteering, she enjoys playing sports, coaching, biking, traveling, and exploring the outdoors. Email Jessica Meadows.
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