Yesterday, Today,

& Tomorrow

By: Julie Zolondek
Park Friend and Volunteer


Acknowledgements………………………………………………………………………. 2


Back In The Ice Age……………………………………………………………………....3

Native Times……………………………………………………………………………....3

The Lumberjacks Are Coming……………………………………………………………. 4

Juneau County………………………………………………………………………….…5

Germantown and Werner……………………………………………………………….…6

Wisconsin River Dam Project………..…………………………………………………… 9

Buckhorn Peninsula State Park Proposal……...………………………………………… 10

Buckhorn State Park Becomes Reality………………………………………………….. 10

Buckhorn Today…………………………………………………………………………11



Appendix 1: Maps

Appendix 2: Newspaper Articles

Appendix 3: Past Residents Remember

Appendix 4: Photo Album




There are a number of people that I would like to thank for their help with providing information for this project and helping me compile this book by providing newspaper articles and artifacts:

Rose Clark, Juneau County Historian, for allowing me the use of the newspaper articles and maps of the area from the Historical Society, and for her account of the area.

Phyllis Moore, Maxine Grefe and Burton Langendorf, for their time giving me accounts of the Germantown area.

Sylvia Jaeger, for the donation of copies of the Brownell family photographs and family accounts of the area.

My parents, Michael and Pamela Zolondek, for allowing me to work on this project during a hectic school year.

The compilers of the Life Before Buckhorn Video, for all of the useful information in the video.

The Friends of Buckhorn State Park, for support, help, and financial donations while working on this project.

Bev Kendl and Jane Schultz, for the personal time it took to help me with this project.

My Grandparents, Gerald and Patricia Spirek, for listening to me constantly talk about the history of the area and for attending my history presentation. Grandpa, for canoeing those many miles with me while searching for park landmarks from the water while desperately trying not to get lost.

Heather Wolf, Assistant Park Manager at Buckhorn State Park, for inspiring me to work on this project and for providing useful information on the park from the past park records.

Tom Dodge, for his accounts of the history of Buckhorn State Park.

Elaine Stecker-Kochanski, for all of her help going through old photographs and sorting out information, and for listening to me constantly talk about every bit of new information I discovered.

And finally, to Joe Stecker-Kochanski, Park Manager at Buckhorn State Park, for allowing me the use of the park office and shop buildings and equipment to work on this project and allowing me the time to present the history of the park programs. Also, thank you for listening to the constant information I’d give you on the park every time I saw you.

For those I didn’t mention, thanks for your help. For those I did mention, thank you once again. Your help was greatly appreciated and the information you gave came to great use. Thank You!

Julie Zolondek



I grew up in Necedah, Wisconsin most of my life, while living in Adams, Wisconsin and Mauston, Wisconsin for the other parts of my life. I grew up around Buckhorn State Park. It’s practically home to me! I took the Junior Ranger Program at Buckhorn when I was in seventh grade. I remember it being the coolest summer activity ever. Four years later, I applied for a clerical job at the park and got it! I worked at the park in the 2004 LTE (Limited Term Employment) season. I didn’t get the job the next year but I developed an interest in the history of the park and how Buckhorn got its name.

I spent most of my time from late 2004 to the end of 2005 volunteering in the park to look up the history of the Germantown area with one goal in mind; to create this book about the history of Buckhorn State Park. I spent hours looking at microfilm at Hatch Public Library in Mauston and burying my head in old newspaper articles that the park kept in it’s records. After a while, I wanted to see the history of the park with my own eyes and not just learn about it from old newspapers and books. So, I walked the entire Buckhorn peninsula looking for old building foundations and other interesting artifacts.

While I worked on this project, I worked with former residents of the land the park now occupies, the Juneau County Historical Society, and the staff of Buckhorn State Park to make this history as complete as it could be, so it would be a great learning tool for future generations. I hope readers of this book will find the same enthusiasm I had and still have for Buckhorn State Park, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Back In The Ice Age

A huge glacial lake, now known as Lake Wisconsin, was a prominent feature in the area about 10,000+ years ago. The area where this glacial lake was located is now known as the Central Sands Region. It extended from just north of present day Baraboo, where one of the three ice plugs was located, to a little bit south of Stevens Point. Buckhorn State Park is forty-one miles north of the first ice plug. The village of Necedah is in the center of this once-vast lake. The lake extended as far west as Tomah and as far east as Roche A Cri State Park, Friendship, Adams County, Wisconsin.

As the glaciers disappeared, the waters of Lake Wisconsin receded and left a sandy soil in its place. Hence the name the Central Sands Region. When visiting Buckhorn State Park, visit the sandblow. It’s one of the many examples of the bottom of the former lake found in the Central Sands Region. As the waters of Lake Wisconsin disappeared lakes, rivers, ponds, and the surrounding landscape were formed.


Native Times

One day in 1860, sawyers at the Winser Brothers’ Mill in

Mauston were running virgin pine logs from up the Lemonweir

into the blade of their water-powered saw. The sharp blade

usually made quick work of logs even three foot thick, but the

contents of one yard-wide log brought the mill to a clattering halt.

When the sawyers rolled it back down the carriage away from

the blade, they discovered an old iron axe embedded in the heart

of the log. Winser’s crew recognized the axe as the type French fur

traders had once exchanged with the Indians. When they counted

the rings of pinewood that had grown over it, the sawyers reckoned

that the axe had been stuck in the log since the 1760’s (Juneau County: The First 100 Years).

Most of the towns in Juneau County today were originally Indian trading posts and Native American villages before the white settlers moved in. Examples of towns that used to be Indian trading posts and villages include Mauston (once called To-Kon-Nee village), Necedah, Elroy, and Armenia.

Although the Chippewa and Menominee Indian tribes inhabited parts of the area, the Winnebago were found throughout Juneau County and were a common sight when fur traders passed through the area. Lake Decorah, Mauston, received its name from a famous and well-respected Winnebago family in the Mauston area.

Castle Rock Lake is located in the area where the Yellow and Wisconsin Rivers meet. The area was given the name pur-kane or “Buckhorn” by the Winnebago meaning “unbroken wilderness”. The Winnebago also called it “the land of the yellow waters”.

As settlers moved in, Native Americans were pushed west. It was said that the Native Americans were loaded on cattle cars and taken to Nebraska, which was to become their new home. After a period of time, they walked back to Wisconsin, which they considered their true home and settled back in Juneau County. The Indian Homestead Act made them exempt from property taxes since they originally owned the land. Those who came back showed a lot of people, including the United States Government, that home is where the heart is.


The Lumberjacks Are Coming

The Yellow and Wisconsin Rivers area, at one time, was famous for it’s abundance of white pine. The book Juneau County: The First 100 Years tells how the lumberjacks knew there was white pine up the Yellow River:

Historian Arthur Kingsbury says that both the Yellow and

Little Yellow bore a pigment coming from the dry needles

of the pines along their banks that tinted their waters yellow.

He said one Indian name for the streams was Neseda-Shing-

Waud. The Chippewa called it Ne-Se-Da, meaning Yellow,

and the Winnebago Pur-Kane or Buckhorn. State Historian

Lyman Draper states the Chippewa name was Kwu-New-Inne

or Buckhorn. Others have speculated Necedah is a

corruption of the Chippewa word Nissish, meaning “let there

be three of us”. Whether Necedah means “yellow” or “Buckhorn”

is equally unclear, but also equally suitable. The water of the

river is tinted yellow and fingers of marsh stretching into the

Wisconsin at it’s mouth do resemble the horns of a
whitetail buck.

In the fall of 1843, John Kingston and Esquire Rice went to the mouth of the Yellow River on the Wisconsin River in search of pine. The dark waters of the Yellow River, tinted with fallen pine needles, hinted that there was an abundance of large white pine upstream on the Yellow. After traveling up the Yellow River four to five miles and finding no pine, Kingston and Rice headed back to Wisconsin Rapids, where they originally started their journey.

In the years of 1844-1845, Thomas Weston, John Werner Jr., and Joe Gill went out in search of pine on the Yellow River. They finally found it after following the Yellow River south from its start in southwestern Clark County to the northern Juneau County line. When word came out that the Menominee were going to leave their land in the area, the lumberjacks in the area immediately began to investigate the abundance of white pine so they could plan sawmill sites on the rivers. In 1848, three years after the rumor went around the area, the Menominee gave up their land causing the Treaty of Poygan to become effective that same year. The Treaty of Poygan gave Werner, Kingston, Weston and Gill a chance to pick the land for the sawmill and lumber sites and to own the land they chose. The two sites they chose were at the mouth of the Yellow River and an area that would soon become Necedah.

A paragraph in Juneau County: The First 100 Years described Weston’s, Werner’s, Kingston’s and Gill’s trip back to Necedah:

They soon returned to Necedah, laid up three or four rounds

of a log shanty, blazed a tree on either bank of the river, wrote

their names and date of claim on a sheet of paper tacked to a

tree and took formal possession by the terms of the pre-emption

law. This simple and direct claim to land planted the seed from

which the village of Necedah would grow.

After putting their claim on this land and returning to Wisconsin Rapids, the T. Weston Lumber Company was formed by Weston, Werner, Kingston, and Eliphalet Miner (who worked out of Wisconsin Rapids). They started their business by rafting wood down the Wisconsin River to the Yellow River where they erected a shanty just below the mouth of the Yellow. The location of this shanty is significant because the town of Germantown was later built on this spot.

In 1848, the first logger road in the area was built heading west from the Wisconsin River to the Yellow River. This logger road later became State Highway 21. Most of the state roads were, at one time, pioneer roads. They were the main roads traveled before the interstate system came to Wisconsin. The T. Weston Lumber Company cut down 2,012 trees while working on this highway and rafted the lumber down the Yellow River. This highway project lasted until 1849. It was the first commercial timber cutting in the Necedah area. This began the 50-year logging era that made Necedah a popular place to be.

John Werner Jr. later built the first steam-powered sawmill and dam on the Yellow River at Necedah. He then sold his shares in the T. Weston Lumber Company to E.S. Miner, who later relocated from Wisconsin Rapids to Necedah. Werner then moved down the Yellow River to its mouth, where he built a sawmill north of the mouth of the river. He left his name on it and left for the land south of the area. This area later attracted residents and a village was born and given the name Werner after it’s founder.


Juneau County

In 1848, Wisconsin became a state. Almost ten years later, on January 1, 1857, Juneau County became a county. Juneau County, the home of Buckhorn State Park, was named after Solomon Juneau at the suggestion of Milton Maughs, founder of Mauston. Solomon Juneau was the founder of Milwaukee and a very influential legislator. While Juneau County was putting together a county government, the Sauk County Board had legal control of Juneau County.

In March of 1848, Adams County became a county sharing borders with the land that was later named Juneau County. From 1848 to 1850, Adams County consisted of all of the land south of the Lemonweir River in present-day Juneau County. From 1850 to 1853, Adams County consisted of all of what is now Adams County and the top three-quarters of present-day Juneau County. In 1853, the borders changed once again and Adams County consisted of all of present day Juneau and Adams Counties. This lasted until 1857, when Juneau County came into existence with the Wisconsin River splitting the two counties. It was like this until 1950, when another dramatic change occurred: the completion of Castle Rock and Petenwell Lakes.

Besides Adams and Juneau Counties borders being combined until 1857, both counties were managed under joint county governments, even though Adams and Juneau Counties each had their own county boards. The joint government ended in 1857, the same year when the county borders were split.

The Adams county seat was Quincy for a while since the Germantown Ferry, which ran across the Wisconsin River from Germantown to Quincy and back, carried county officials to board meetings. Quincy was known as the heart of both Adams and Juneau Counties, at the time their borders were combined. The county seat of Adams County was later changed to Adams.

Juneau County had its own battle for the county seat. Mauston and New Lisbon feuded over this issue for the first twenty years of Juneau County’s existence. Mauston won the battle. Why Mauston vs. New Lisbon? Because New Lisbon served as the unofficial county seat of Juneau County for a few years until it was realized that all of the main roads led to Mauston, which seemed to be and eventually was the heart of Juneau County.


Germantown and Werner

The land below the mouth of the Yellow River after Weston, Werner, Kingston, and Miner put in the log shanty, attracted a large number of German settlers. The first settlers, Walter Gaige and Jacob Gundlach, came in 1851. They named the area “Germantown” after the large number of German settlers that came into the area.

Germantown was incorporated as a 30-block town on the Wisconsin River in 1855. When its population was at its peak in the 1880s, Germantown had four sawmills, a church, school, dance hall, blacksmith shop, hotel, saloon, and the first brewery in the county. Erastus Hubbard opened a post office in 1854. The Runkel family took control of it soon after it opened and operated it from the Germantown Hotel until its closing in 1912.

The church in Germantown was St. Jacobi Lutheran Church. It was organized in 1891 and served the area until 1924. When Castle Rock Lake was being built, the old church building was torn down and the wood rafted down the Wisconsin River to build homes in nearby towns.

The school that served Germantown was known as Germantown District #1. It was a one-room schoolhouse like most of the other schools in the area. The town of Germantown ran the school until the 1920s. In the late 1940s, the building was torn down and the lumber was rafted down the Wisconsin River.

Besides running the post office in Germantown, the Runkel family also owned and ran the Germantown Hotel, which had a dance hall and saloon in it, and the Germantown Ferry, which crossed the Wisconsin River to Quincy. The Germantown Hotel operated until the 1920s, when Germantown’s population dropped dramatically. The building was razed after Castle Rock Lake started to fill with water.

The Germantown Ferry was started in 1851 and was operated until 1928, when W.C. Runkel, owner and operator, retired from the ferry service. The main purpose of the Germantown Ferry was to carry county supervisors who traveled from New Lisbon, across the Wisconsin River to Quincy and back. Past historians have said that the route of the ferry is unknown, but, according to photographs and drawings from the time, the ferry operated in front of the Germantown Hotel and was run by a cable that ran across the river. After its closing in 1928, the Germantown Ferry received the title of the longest-run ferry in Juneau County.

Just one mile north of the town of Germantown on County Road G was the village of Werner. The sawmill that John Werner built was just the beginning of the village.

In 1856, Werner was incorporated and platted as a 19-block village. When it’s population was at its peak, Werner had a sawmill, blacksmith shop, cream station, dance hall, hotel, saloon, two schools, two churches and two cemeteries. Werner also had a post office that operated from 1857 to 1887 in the home of H.D. White on County Road G.

The sawmill that John Werner Jr. built would have been located on what is now the Wisconsin River side of the Buckhorn Peninsula. The blacksmith shop was owned and operated by the Burton family and was located on 22nd Avenue. The cream station was owned and run by the Shoe family and was located on the corner of what was County Road G and 33rd Avenue.

Zanoni, owned and run by H.D. White in his home, was a combination of businesses. The post office was operated from this residence along with a general store. A hall located on the second floor of the building was used for special occasions. The White family was the first family in Werner to have a thrashing machine and a steam engine. They offered ground feed to area farmers.

The Diamond Club, better known as Hornburg Hall, was owned and operated by the Hornburg family. A baseball club, operated from the Diamond Club, became a big hit with the youngsters who lived in the area. During the Depression, the Diamond Club had free dances every two weeks. They made their money selling beer for $.08 per eight ounce glass. During the winter, the hall served as a roller-skating rink. Lawrence Hornburg, past resident and author of The People of the Buckhorn Area, a recollection of the Werner area, remembers:

In the winter, we roller-skated in the hall. There was quite

a bunch of us. Everybody brought in a arm full of wood

for the stove. Those who didn’t skate sat in the kitchen on

the bar by the cook stove and visited.

Hornburg Hall was torn down in the 1920s because of the poor condition of the building, but everyone will always remember the good times they had in that building.

According to Beverly Grefe, whose family lived in Werner and author of the PTA essay contest award winning essay titled My Home Town: History of Werner, Wisconsin, the Werner Hotel, which later became the Grefe home, had many unique features.

This four-story structure had a large dining room and kitchen

on the first floor, two spacious living rooms, a bar room and

several bedrooms on the second floor, a large dance hall and

more bedrooms on the third floor, and a large attic for storage

space on the fourth floor.

The Grefe home was torn down in 1950, just as the flood waters of the newly formed Castle Rock Lake met the village of Werner.

The two schools that operated in the Werner area were called Lake Juneau and Pleasant View. Lake Juneau was located on the corner of 22nd Avenue and 31st Avenue, near the scenic Lake Juneau. It was, at one time, named Zanoni but in 1922 the name was changed to Lake Juneau.

The Pleasant View School, which was located on the corner of the former County Road G and 36th Avenue, was the oldest country school in Germantown township. It was originally a log schoolhouse built near the Swedish Baptist Church, located at the southern end of Werner. When the land was being acquired by the Wisconsin River Power Company, the old school building was moved to County Road G heading towards Castle Rock County Park. It was then used as the Germantown Town Hall for many years, until the new town hall was erected on County Road A. Before it was razed in July 2005, the old school/town hall stood dormant on what was it’s final resting place on County Road G.

There were two churches in the town of Werner. The Evangelical Church building was used as a Masonic lodge before it became the Evangelical Church. It was the oldest building in the county. The Evangelicals disbanded sometime before 1925. In 1925, the building was torn down and the lumber was rafted down the Wisconsin River to build buildings in other towns.

The other church in Werner was the Swedish Baptist Church, which was organized in 1910. After services were discontinued in 1937, the building was used as a town hall until the floodwaters from the Castle Rock Flowage overtook the building.

According to the Germantown Cemetery Records, there were three cemeteries in Germantown, one just outside of the town of Germantown and the other two just outside of the village of Werner. The smallest of them all was the Burke Farm Cemetery, which was located on the Burke Farm on 19th Avenue South. It had five people buried in it, including an unknown child. The graves in the cemetery were moved to St. Francis Catholic Cemetery in Necedah when Castle Rock Lake was being built. The only grave that was not moved to St. Francis Cemetery was that of the unknown child which was moved to the Germantown Cemetery.

Werner Cemetery was once a pleasant-looking cemetery. Past residents of Werner recall a white picket fence standing around the cemetery and trees gently shading the graves. According to past recollections, farmers’ cows occasionally got loose, wandered to the cemetery, and knocked the white picket fence down. The Werner Cemetery, at the time the Castle Rock Lake project began, was moved to Germantown Cemetery. According to the old-timers of the area, bodies are still buried where the original cemetery was. They claim that the bodies of migrant workers were buried in the cemetery and their graves weren’t marked or recorded. The bodies were not removed when the cemetery was moved. Whether that’s true or not, nobody knows. Werner Cemetery was located on 19th Avenue South, one mile west of the town of Werner. This, today, would be at the southwestern tip of Buckhorn Peninsula in Buckhorn State Park.

Germantown Cemetery, which still exists to this day, was the main cemetery in the Germantown area. The Germantown Cemetery, unlike the two Werner cemeteries, escaped the floodwaters of Castle Rock Lake. It is located off Evergreen Street by Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, which is off of County Road G heading towards the Juneau County Castle Rock County Park. This cemetery holds some of the oldest graves in the county.

When the lumberjacks exhausted the abundance of white pine in the 1890s, they moved out and farmers moved in. The farmers found that they couldn’t raise an abundance of profitable crops with the exception of hay due to the sandy soil. During this time, the farmers’ cows depended on the brushy habitat for food, which caused a dramatic loss of wildlife habitat.

In 1932, a fire swept through parts of Germantown and the northern part of Werner. Most of the farms and crops in the area burnt to the ground. This caused a dramatic decrease in population, as people started moving out of the area. Their minds not only focused on the loss of their property and belongings, but also on the rumor that was going around that would forever change the Werner and Germantown area.


Wisconsin River Dam Project

In the late 1920’s, a Mr. Brockman, representing the Wisconsin River Power Company (WRPC), Wisconsin Rapids, came to Germantown and Werner requesting a list of names and addresses of people living in the area. His explanation for this request was that the land along the Yellow and Wisconsin Rivers was being sought out so two dams and two huge lakes could be built in the area. When the residents of Germantown and Werner found out about this, most of them accepted this as the future of their hometown although there were some residents who didn’t like the thought of their land becoming the bottom of a lake or the idea of losing the homes that their ancestors built after they immigrated to the United States.

This wasn’t the only time a huge project like this was going on. Germantown and Werner weren’t the only towns affected by the building of a lake and dam along the Wisconsin River. At Council Grounds State Park in Merrill, Wisconsin, a large hydroelectric dam was built on the Wisconsin River, forming Alexander Lake. An interpretive sign at Council Grounds mentions that in the 1880’s and between 1920 and 1950, many hydroelectric dams and canals were built along the Wisconsin River, twenty-five of which are still operating today.

Germantown and Werner became ghost towns in the 1920s. In the late 1920s, people began selling off their land to the WRPC. After the Germantown fire, more people sold their property to the WRPC. Those who disagreed with the WRPC were forced into selling their land and homes, which were later torn down. Most of the former residents relocated to nearby towns such as Mauston, Necedah, and Tomah. Others moved out of the area.

In the late 1940s, work on the two lakes and dams began. Construction on the Petenwell Lake and Dam began in 1947 and was completed in 1950. Construction on the Castle Rock Dam (then known as the Germantown Dam) began in 1948 and was also completed in 1950. During the construction of these two lakes and dams, trees were taken out, homes were torn down; only memories remained.

Despite tearing apart lives, the Castle Rock and Petenwell Lakes and Dams opened up a new era for both Juneau and Adams Counties. After the floodwaters of Castle Rock Lake flooded the towns of Germantown and Werner, the waters formed a new and unique landform where Werner once was. This landform, known to locals as the Buckhorn Peninsula, with its endless number of slews and bays, was going to become a piece of land that people would argue over for years to come.

Buckhorn Peninsula State Park Proposal

In 1949, one year after the start of the Castle Rock and Petenwell Lakes project, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) proposed to purchase 25,215 acres of Castle Rock and Petenwell Lake shoreline in Adams, Wood and Juneau Counties to create a large state park and recreational area. This state park and recreational area would offer wilderness camping, miles of hiking trails and access to both Castle Rock and Petenwell Lakes from numerous locations in the park. The tri-counties didn’t approve this proposal because they thought that they should hear other proposals for the large lakeshore area. This plan was presented in 1949, 1953, 1954, 1961, and 1962; it was rejected all five times it was presented to Juneau County.

In 1965, the WDNR came up with a different and much smaller plan than the one previously presented. The plan called for the peninsula jutting into Castle Rock Lake, at the time known as Buckhorn Peninsula, becoming a state park. This state park would consist of 3,970 acres and include wilderness camping, a horse trail area, three beach and day use areas, two different boating areas in the top half of the peninsula, a state natural area, and wildlife habitat restoration area in the bottom half of the peninsula. The name of this proposed state park would be Buckhorn Peninsula State Park.

The Juneau County Board and residents were not happy with the thought of the peninsula becoming a state park. The Board shot down the plan numerous times saying that if the land was used as a state park, it would ruin the tax base which would ruin any chance for a good economy for Juneau County. Also a state park would prevent any tax raises so the county could earn money off of taxes. Juneau County’s idea for the land included a large developmental plan consisting of a large subdivision. The county hired a subdivider to draw out plans of the proposed subdivision that would have consisted of half of Buckhorn Peninsula. Even though Juneau County already had these plans set out, they weren’t expecting what came next.

Buckhorn State Park Becomes Reality

In 1971, the WDNR bought Buckhorn Peninsula from WRPC. The first thing they did was change the name to Buckhorn State Park so that Buckhorn Peninsula could not get confused with Peninsula State Park, Door County.

Immediately after the sale of Buckhorn Peninsula to the WDNR, work on the master plan for Buckhorn State Park began. In 1975, the WDNR board approved the master plan for Buckhorn State Park. The plan included a picnic ground, a boat landing, a playground area with equipment, a parking lot, landscaping and seeding, and construction of benches and signs for the park.

Construction of Buckhorn State Park began in 1975. The construction of the park was split into three phases. The first phase consisted of a new entrance road from County Road G to 36th Avenue in the park, the fixing and building of other park roads, the construction of park buildings (the park office and visitor station, and various toilet buildings) and the construction of day use areas in the park. The second phase of park construction included the clearing of campsites and the creation of hiking trails (mainly the nature trail with interpretive signs, which was known at that time as the Buckhorn Trail). The third phase of the park construction was the creation of a 500 foot sandy beach, the blacktopping of main park roads and the construction of a shop/maintenance building near the park office.

In 1982, the construction of Buckhorn State Park was complete and ready for visitors to enjoy the amenities that the park offered. In August of 1982, the dedication ceremony, a tradition to introduce new state parks in the Wisconsin State Park System, was held at the beach at Buckhorn State Park. A flagpole that was donated to the park stood at the beach; it was later moved to the park entrance area near the office.

Buckhorn had many amenities to offer to visitors. These amenities included two picnic areas with shelters, picnic tables and grills; a beach area with pit toilet facilities and changing stalls; a boat launch area and a canoe launch area. The trails included Buckhorn Trail and trails to the wilderness campsites. The campsites included family campsites and wilderness campsites, which were quite a walk from the parking lots.


Buckhorn Today

Today, Buckhorn State Park totals 4,500-acres, managed as a state park, wildlife area, and natural area. Buckhorn now consists of the Buckhorn Peninsula, the land along the Yellow River up to Whistling Wings Subdivision and back down the other side of the Yellow River to the boat launch on the other side of the Buckhorn Bridge, which was later purchased by the WDNR. The park offers many amenities such as swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, camping, canoeing, picnicking, hunting, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. The park currently has fifty-six campsites, six of which are non-reservable. The park offers 5.6 miles of hiking trails including the Partridge Trail, the Turkey Vulture Trail, the Savannah Trail and the Nature Trail. The park also added a canoe interpretation trail that routes along the shoreline of the park and an island.

Buckhorn State Park has an active Friends group that was established in 1996. Since that time, the Friends of Buckhorn State Park assisted with the building of the handicapped accessible cabin known as the Cabin of the Setting Sun. It is one of five such cabins in the state park system. The Friends are currently working on plans for an amphitheater in the park. The Friends of Buckhorn State Park plan and hold Spring Fling, an event held every May. They help with the Youth Deer Hunt held the first weekend in November. The time and effort of the Friends of Buckhorn State Park along with the effort of the park staff has made the park what it is today.



Buckhorn State Park will constantly change to meet the needs of the public. These changes could include additions of roads and the rebuilding or remodeling of the park office.

Buckhorn State Park is truly one of many natural gems that Juneau County holds within her boundaries, whether it is county parks or state parks. With the help of park staff, park volunteers, and park friends, visitors can have an enjoyable time in Buckhorn State Park. Because of Buckhorn’s scenic location on Castle Rock Lake, the park beckons visitors to take in the natural resources native to the area. One could go on a hike or ski on scenic nature trails, spend a few nights camping in the wilderness living as the first settlers lived, or take a nice cool swim in the lake on a hot day or try to catch a couple of panfish, walleyes or a northern pike off of the fishing pier or boat. Whatever the activity chosen, Buckhorn State Park has something for everyone and it lives up to its name, Buckhorn: Unbroken Wilderness.


Bieder, Robert E., Native American Communities in Wisconsin 1600-1960. University of Wisconsin Press, 1995.

Buckhorn State Park Appraisal Report, 1961.

Buckhorn State Park Interpretive Signs.

Buckhorn State Park Maps.

Buckhorn State Park Visitor, 1996, 2001.

Castle Rock Land Use Maps.

Castle Rock and Petenwell Lakes Area Visitors Guides, 1998, 2005.

Council Grounds State Park Interpretive Sign.

Germantown Cemetery Records.

Germantown Plat, 1855, 1920’s.

Germantown School Records.

Grefe, Beverly, My Home Town: Werner, Wisconsin.

Hornburg, Lawrence, People of the Buckhorn Area.

Juneau County Chronicle.

Juneau County Historical Society, Juneau County: First 100 Years.

Juneau County Plat, 1878.

Juneau County Star-Times.

Life Before Buckhorn.

Lobenstein, Conrad, The History of the Lobenstien Farm.

Madison State Journal.

Mauston Star.

Milwaukee Sentinal.

Necedah Republic.

New Lisbon Times.

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