Wisconsin Tour: Aldo Leopold & Sand County

A few years ago I read A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. It was first published in 1949, and has been a very influential book for those interested in conservation. It was really one of the only books like this written at the time. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to actually go and see the inspiration for this book- Aldo’s shack and where he lived in Baraboo, Wisconsin!

You first arrive at The Aldo Leopold Legacy Center. It’s been designed to fit within the landscape and to respect the land around it. It was built with sustainability in mind- recycled wood (including wood from trees Aldo planted nearly 70 years ago), energy efficient windows requiring less energy for lighting, solar panels, water management and rain gardens, and an ecological prairie landscape. An inner courtyard made by the three buildings also made the center welcoming. The center also had art gallery space and educational areas about the goals of the center and the legacy of the man behind it all.
Aldo’s actual shack was located about a mile away down the road from the center, but the center had bicycles to rent for a low price instead of having to walk along the road.

‘The Shack’ began its life as a chicken coop! When Aldo purchased the farmland, he converted it into a cabin. The shack used to be surround by farmland, but now it was surrounded by woods and prairie and was just a short walk from the Wisconsin River.

The now forest had lots of pine trees, which Aldo writes about in his book.  Inside the shack it is still set up like how they lived there. There were also some family photos taken by the Leopolds. The shack hasn’t changed since the foundation acquired it. I couldn’t imagine living here with a large family like they had, especially through long and cold Wisconsin winters.

A short walk away from the shack is the Wisconsin River. There is a sandy area you have to walk through to get to it, now we knew why this area is known as Sand County! The land restoration of Aldo’s property was done by himself and his family. A large amount of the restoration was given to a pine forest, and an open prairie landscape.


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