Tucked away in the rolling hillsides of Wisconsin, north of Chicago on Interstate 90, there is a small town called Lodi, Wisconsin. Lodi is a quaint little city, which is nestled along the Wisconsin River. Lodi is a easygoing community; you will find no big city hustle and bustle here.

Founded in the late 1800's, Lodi like many other cities on the Wisconsin River was big in the timber industry. The close proximity of the river made it possible for the town folk to maintain their logging jobs, and still live close to where the logging was being done.

Fishing and outdoor activities are a popular past time in Lodi. I have taken many fishing trips to the Lodi area, and I always come home happy. There are many places you can stay in Lodi. It has several bed and breakfast lodges; there are campgrounds and hotels all over Lodi and the surrounding area, as well as rental cabins that you can rent by the day, week, or month. Most rental cabins come with a boat and motor for an extra fee. If you have your own boat, they usually have plenty of dock space for you to moor your boat. The Lodi part Wisconsin River and the many small lakes and ponds around the town, have some of the best fishing you can hope for. As a child my family and I would spend every possible weekend in Lodi. We would fish from sunrise to sunset, stopping only long enough to eat and to buy more fish bait. You can fish from the shore or go out on the lake in a boat, either way you are almost guaranteed to catch fish.

One of the Lodi's most famous residents isn't a human, it’s a duck. This duck nicknamed "Susie" has been a famous resident since she first came to Lodi in 1948. Legend has it that in 1948 a mallard duck laid her eggs in a masonry flower basket on the main street bridge that spans across a small river that runs thru town. Lodi Police chief Will Breunig noticed the duck in the basket, and decided to name her after his granddaughter "Susie". "Susie the Duck" quickly became a very popular resident of Lodi. The townsfolk would anxiously await her return every year, so they could watch her lay and hatch her eggs. Year after year "Susie" would return to downtown Lodi, and lay her eggs in that same basket. Over the years, there has been many different ducks that they call "Susie", each one as special to the townsfolk as the one before it. The city now has a "Susie the Duck" Day, which has a parade, shopping, dining, and a plastic duck race. The duck race is where they sell the little plastic ducks like you see at a carnival game, for $5.00 per duck, and race them down the river for fun and prizes, the grand prize this past year for the duck race winner was $1500 dollars. Donations of $.50 cents from the purchase of each duck go to a yearly community project. They have built a walk path along the banks of the small river, where you can purchase dry corn out of a gumball machine for a quarter, and feed it to the ducks, while sitting on a bench under a shade tree. You can also purchase dry corn from the gumball machines located on the bridge, and feed the ducks in the world famous masonry basket that the original "Susie" laid her eggs in.

Lodi has some very good places to dine. From the town diner type of restaurant, to fast food establishments, to upscale places to dine, Lodi has it all. On one trip that we made to Lodi when I was only about 10 years old, we were on our way to the lake and stopped off at a small diner in town. The waitress took our orders, but laughed when I told her I want a whole stack of pancakes (which is usually 4 or 5 pancakes). When I said "why are you laughing at me"? She replied by saying "you are just a little guy; there is no way you can eat a stack of our pancakes". The waitress convinced me to try just a single pancake, and I am glad she did. The pancake they brought out was the biggest pancake that I have ever seen. It was bigger than the jumbo size plate they brought to the table. They have several barbecue stands in the summertime where you can get barbecue ribs, chicken, or smoked fish and steaks. Be sure to bring your taste buds when you go to Lodi, you will need them.

Just outside of Lodi on Highway 113 is quite unique tourist attraction. The Merrimac Ferry, The ferry named "Colsac III" runs from April thru November. They got the ferry's name by combining the 2 counties it servers, Columbia and Sauk counties. There has been a ferry in this spot since before Wisconsin was even a state. The first ferry was operated by Chester Mattson, the second settler on the site of the village of Merrimac,  who obtained charters to provide ferry service at this location. The ferry was operated long before the development of a regular roadway. Mattson charged either 35 cents or $1 to ferry a horse team and wagon across the river. There have been many different ferries at this location, including Colsac I, Colsac II, and its current ferry Colsac III. Colsac III is a free ferry that transports people from the Lodi side of the lake, to the town of Merrimac on the other side of the lake. Although this is a tourist attraction, it is also how the people who live in the area get across the lake for their everyday travels. The trip from one side of the Wisconsin lake to the other takes roughly 8-10 minutes each way. The ferry holds roughly 9 to 12 vehicles per trip, this sometimes makes for a lengthy wait, but don't worry, there are many things to do while you wait for your turn to ride the ferry. Both sides of the lake have roughly the amenities to help you pass the time. The favorite thing for most people is to get home made hand dipped ice cream from the ice cream stand beside the ferry landing. These ice cream stands not only serve ice cream, they also serve a variety of sandwiches and pizza as well. On the Lodi side, there is a flea market open during summer months; there is also a park where the whole family can relax in the great outdoors. You could also fish from the shoreline for Rock Bass, Crappie, Large Mouth Bass, and many other varieties of fish.

If you are ever near this quaint little town, be sure to stop and spend the day touring Lodi and the surrounding areas, you will not be disappointed, and you might just find a new place to vacation.


Source: Memories from my many trips to Lodi, Wisconsin
Dates and facts: Lodi Chamber of Commerce. 30 Jul 2004 <http://www.lodicommerce.com/>.

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