The May 24, 1877 Wisconsin State Journal carried a special insert designed to lure summer visitors to Madison.
What is there to do? Visit the Capitol, which contains the library, portrait gallery, cabinet, and world-surpassing prehistoric collections of the State Historical Society; the various departments of state, each exhibiting special objects of interest; an observatory from which panoramic views of the surrounding country can be seen free of charge; and Old Abe. There is a finely laid out cemetery at Forest Hill with fine specimens of marble workers’ skill and landscape gardeners’ care. The free public library in City Hall is open every day and evening. There are effigy mounds to visit. Capitol Park is the gem of Madison, and city bands discourse music thrice a week from a balcony upon the northeast lawn. There is Schuetzen Park in Mill’s Woods, with the popular amusement of rifle shooting, as well as a picnic grounds in Turvill’s Woods.
The Artesian Mineral Well in the Capitol Park furnishes a natural tonic for the weak, cleanses the internal organs, eradicates cutaneous and chronic diseases, revives the feeble, and restores vigor and manhood. The Mineral Waters of Madison are literally the Elixir of Life.
Numerous groves, excursion points, and camp grounds abound upon the banks of the four lakes. There are pleasure drives long enough, grand enough, and romantic enough to suit all, and enough to furnish a new one for each day in the summer season – one to the Nine Springs State Fish Hatchery, one past the mystic Dead Lake, University Drive, a 10-mile drive around Lake Monona, and a day-long drive around Fourth Lake. Picnic Point can be accessed by carriage road, steamer, rowboat, or sailboat. Excursion points include McBride’s Point, owned by Halle Steensland; Farwell’s Point adjoining the Insane Asylum grounds; Governor’s Island; Merrill’s Springs; and Livesey’s Springs.
For those who want more than Madison offers there is a two-hour trip by rail to Devil’s Lake, the Switzerland of the West, which ends at Cliff House, directly upon the shore. There is a 25-mile ride to Blue Mounds, offering a view for one hundred miles.
The lover of fishing will find black, white, silver and rock bass weighing up to seven pounds, and pickerel up to 15 pounds.
A visitor can gather water lilies on Lake Monona, and hire boats to sail or row on it in the moonlight, with the city in the distance and the stars in the sky and the moon path upon the water. On Third Lake Cap Barnes runs the Ninniogwaniskote and Katanagarah steamers from Angleworm Station to Winnequah, where there are a bowling alley, swings, pavilions, billiard hall, and a restaurant. The Askew Brothers run the Lakeside steamer to and from Lakeside Point. Mr. Blackmer’s Bay State takes pleasure seekers to any point desired on the lake; in the evenings he carries a public excursion party around the lake, often providing a band.
For the cultivated tourist, Madison must be conceded to be a literary center. In Science Hall there is a full collection of the birds of the state, and rare foreign specimens. The geological cabinet contains many rare specimens of minerals, corals, and shells. The chief attractions of the art gallery are the Moran pictures of the Four Lakes painted at the order of the Ladies Centennial Commission. Surrounding the University is a park of 300 acres. Before the 20th of June there are 400 students at work under 20 professors.
Visitors can spend the summer at the Park Hotel, Vilas House, Capital House, Lakeside Hotel, numerous smaller hotels, or boarding houses. Rates range from $5 to $12 per week. There is a Turkish Bath in the Opera House block, a cold and warm bath in the basement of the Park Hotel, and lake baths along the shores of Third and Fourth lakes.
Market gardens and fruit farms surround the city. The choicest Southern fruits and vegetables are imported daily. Fish abound in great variety. The game supply is unstinted.
“In everything the summer idler can be accommodated. Our people are hospitable, our ladies are the handsomest in the West, and our town the prettiest, the healthiest, the jauntiest in the whole list of Western resorts. A summer campaign in Madison means all the modern conveniences, with the most delightful surroundings and climates to be found in the Mississippi basin – if not in the world.”