If you are near LaCrosse, Wisconsin, visit Granddad Bluff. This chunk of land is about 590 feet above the surrounding land and 1,183 feet above sea level. You can access the bluff via Bliss Road. Once you get to the top, you can relax in a park shelter, which is in a fenced off area so you don’t take a 500-plus foot tumble to the bottom. The park area features a panoramic picture of LaCrosse showing landmarks around the area.
The land was first bought by Judge George Gale in 1851; and it changed hands 83 ties between 1851 and 1912. Limestone was quarried from the bluff for many years; and then it was going to be sold to a company that did large-scale quarrying. The citizens of LaCrosse were against that, so in 1909, Joseph and Irene Hixon bought the land. The property was held in a trust until 1912 when the Hixons donated it to the city of LaCrosse as a park. G. C. Hixon and a group of the city’s residents raised $15,000 to build roads and to buy more land around the bluff. Hixon Forest lies below the bluff and is now a popular place for hiking.
The Works Progress Administration created a shelter on the bluff in 1938. The administration used stone that was quarried from the south side of the bluff. The LaCrosse Chapter of Reserve Officers Association erected a 65-foot flagpole on the bluff in 1941. And, in 1952, a split rail fence, parking and two new picnic areas were added.
In 1954, the shelter got electricity and around 1964, public restrooms were added. The bluff got a new pump house in 1976. Additional landscaping projects were done in the ’80s and the LaCrosse Jaycees erected a new 75-foot flagpole in 1994. On New Year’s Eve, the LaCrosse Skyrockers have a fireworks show from the top of the bluff.
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