Presidential and Vice-Presidential Visits

  • Article

    A number of men who would be, were, or had been President or Vice-President have visited the local northwoods area.. As I read literature about the area, I will note, in chronological order all of the presidential and vice-presidental visits I come across. The list is, therefore, not exhaustive. Readers who know of other visits (and have some kind of documented reference) are invited to email the Webmaster at

    President Abraham Lincoln's widow, Mary Todd Lincoln and their son, Tad, traveled by steamer from Chicago, visiting Wisconsin Lake Michigan ports, passing through the Soo Locks, visiting Michigan ports, and ending at Bayfield, where they also visited LaPointe, before returning. They departed Chicago on August 15, 1867. The dates in Bayfield are uncertain, but the ship probably departed Bayfield between August 21-23. Reports suggest they spent one night in Smith's Hotel in Bayfield (the hotel burned, with all records lost, in the 1880's) and one in LaPointe. Wis Mag of Hist, 2012.

    President Ulysses S. Grant fished the Bois Brule River some time in the nineteenth century. Our Wisconsin, 2018.

    "Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States and a Republican, is listed in the Burton House Register as a guest during the 1888 election campaign. A dinner was served in the main dining room in his honor and he gave a short speech at the railway station before departing." Rooted in Resources, p. 109

    President Grover Cleveland fished the Bois Brule River some time in the nineteenth century. Our Wisconsin, 2018. Rooted in Resources, p. 109 says, "Grover Cleveland, the Democrat who served as President both before and after Benjamin Harrison, also stayed at the Burton House. He arrived near the end of his second term in 1894. [Actually, that would have been the second year of his second term.] Instead of campaigning for office, Cleveland was on a tour of industrial centers to quiet unrest associated with the Pullman railroad workers strike in Chicago." Wikipedia (downloaded August 26, 2020) says, "One of the Burton Houses's most famous guests was president Grover Cleveland who registered at the hotel on October 5, 1889." The dates don't all fit, but there seems substantial agreement that Cleveland was at the Burton House.

    President Calvin Coolidge's "summer White House" was Cedar Island Lodge on the Brule River between Ashland and Superior, as indicated on a 1928 postcard with a picture of the Brule River and President and Mrs. Coolidge. Mrs. Coolidge was reported to have visited Eagle River during the summer of 1928 and had her hair done at a local salon according to Backward Glances in the Vilas County News-Review, Oct. 22, 2008. Government business was conducted from the library of Central High School in Superior. The President was in Wisconsin from June 15 to September 10, 1928! Our Wisconsin, 2018.

    Vice President Charles Dawes "spent a fishing vacation in Phelps" in 1928, according to Backward Glances in the Vilas County News-Review, Sept. 17, 2008.

    Future President Franklin Roosevelt traveled with his parents from Chicago to Superior, Wisconsin, in a private railroad car in April, 1892, being in Superior on April 11. "The Roosevelts in Superior"

    Sistie and Buzzy Dall, grandchildren of President Franklin Roosevelt were guests of the Wilmot family on Wilmot Island in Plum Lake during some summers in the 1930's. An article in the Vilas County News-Review in 1935 says they were visiting Wilmot Island "again." Edgar Goodspeed indicates they visited in 1937. Goodspeed, As I Remember, pp. 72-3; Famous Children, The parents of the children were Curtis Bean Dall and Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (daughter of FDR). The Dalls were divorced in 1934. Goodspeed indicates that in 1937 they were accompanied by their father.

    President Dwight Eisenhower visited the area on several occasions before, during, and after his presidency:

    Eisenhower visited the area at the invitation of Gov. Walter Goodland in July, 1946, arriving via the Milwaukee Road. He and his four brothers stayed a week at Moody's Big Woods Lodge, eight miles west of Boulder Junction. On July 21 he visited the state YMCA camp at Boulder Junction. "History Afield". During the visit the five Eisenhower brothers were photographed by DNR photographer Staber W. Reese as they fished on Pine Lake in Iron County. Reese's photos are part of the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections and are available online.

    For ten days in August of 1948 Gen. and Mrs. Eisenhower were guests of Howard Young at his summer home in Minocqua, Cedar Gates. During their stay they were dinner guests of Willard R. Cox, whose butler was able to meet the general who he had served under in WWII. Best of Backward Glances

    Ike was a guest in Eagle River, staying with friends at the Everett Resort in 1949 (before he was president). This according to Backward Glances in the Vilas County News-Review, July 29, 2009. On July 31, 2019, Baclward Glances noted the same visit, this time stating that he played golf at the Everett Golf Club.

    He visited Minocqua as the guest of Howard Young at his estate on Lake Minocqua in 1948, 1965, and 1967. "History Afield". President Eisenhower and his wife visited the Indian Bowl in 1965, when the tribe honored the former president with the Ojibwe name Giniw-Wi-Giizhig, or Golden Eagle. "Indian Bowl"

    His brother, Milton, caught a 20-pount tiger musky while staying at the Gateway Lodge in Land O'Lakes in 1957. This according to Backward Glances in the Vilas County News-Review, July 12, 2017.

    Charles P. Forbes
    September 24, 2008
    Revised: August 26, 2020
  • Bibliography

    Major References

    ****. Near Cedar Island Lodge the 1928 Summer White House. [Post Card] 1928. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    ****. Best of Backward Glances [Eisenhower]. [Vilas County News Review, Aug. 8, 2018, p. 5B ] Eagle River, 2018. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    ****. Famous Children Visit in County. [Vilas County News-Review, August 22, 1935] Eagle River, 1935. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Crowley, Keith. White House in Wisconsin. [Our Wisconsin, Vol. 6 #4, June/July 2018, p. 7] Manitowish Waters, 1928. View Full Entry
    Drew, Michelle, compiler. Backward Glances. [Vilas County News Review, July 31, 2019, p. 6B [Backward Glances]] Eagle River, 2019. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Goodspeed, Edgar. As I Remember. New York, 1953. View Full Entry
    Hutchison, Tom. Indian Bowl Is Back. [Our Wisconsin, Vol. 5, #6, Aug/Sept 2017, p. 27] Manitowish Waters, 2017. View Full Entry
    Irvine, Cyndy. Mary Lincoln and Her Visit to Wisconsin's Wild Region. [Wisconsin Magazine of History, 95:4, Summer 2012, pp. 2-11.] Madison, 2012. View Full Entry
    Siemers, David. Roosevelts in Superior. [Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 93, Autumn 2009, pp. 2-13.] Madison, 2009. View Full Entry
    Techtmann, Catherine. Rooted in Resources, Iron County, Wisconsin 1893-1993. Friendship, Wisconsin, 1993. View Full Entry
    Willging, Robert. History Afield. [Wisconsin Magazine of History, 95:2, Winter 2011-2, pp. 48-51.] Madison, 2011. View Full Entry

    Minor References

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  • Miscellany

    Eisenhower Invitation

    According to a note in Backward Glances (Vilas County News-Review), July 24, 2002, in 1952 the town of Boulder Junctin sent frequest North Woods vacaioner Gen. Dwight Eisenhower an invitation to build his "summer White House" in Boulder Junction after receiving word of his nomination for president.