Good 'ole Somerset, Wisconsin. My home for the first 18 years of my life. Ninety five percent of the kids I graduated from high school with I had known since Kindergarten. With a current population of 2,668, Somerset is technically a village. I would guess that my graduating class had less than eighty people but I'm not quite sure.
I haven't been back much since my grandmother passed away two years ago. While I was there last, I realized so much had changed. It is strange how a place can live on in your memory just how it was, and then when you see it after a long time it looks so foreign. The pathway leading down to the river by the dairy queen, the popular campgrounds, and the now demolished elementary school are so vivid in my mind. I really didn't know much about my hometown despite having vivid memories of particular places and experiences there.
The DS106 challenge of creating a postcard for my hometown filled me with nostalgia and also led to me research the beginnings of Somerset. Taking direction from the natural environment, the Apple River and the St. Croix River both played important roles in establishing the community. Waterways allowed for fur traders and lumbermen to settle in the area, and six years after Wisconsin became a state, the community requested township status. For more information on the early settlement of Somerset, visit the Chamber of Commerce historical information site.
Although it's a small village, Somerset is well known for it's campgrounds, summer concerts, and tubing on the Apple River. In 1941, LIFE magazine came to Somerset and took photos of people floating the river. The photos are simply amazing, and if you floated the river today the scenery would look much the same.
In 1972, Charles Kuralt of "On the Road" featured a Somerset campground in the evening news with Walter Cronkite. The impact was staggering, and a significant economic boom to the tiny village. Throughout my childhood, the town's activities largely revolved around the campgrounds and the tourism that came as a result. The busy and lively summers made the long, cold winters worthwhile.
I am proud to say that I am from Somerset, and I am thankful for the small town experiences I had growing up. Researching for and planning this poscard project was an opportunity for me to take a look at my own heritage and how the places and spaces we live and work in shape our experiences. One more thing; did I mention that our highschool football team won the team championship last year? It's not the first time. Their coach, Bruce Larson was named the NFL's national high school football coach of the year. I was lucky to have Mr. Larson as my gym and health class instructor. Go Spartans!