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Road Tripping: New Glarus

NEW GLARUS- There isn't any mistaking the charm of the little Swiss Village of New Glarus. The cultural details welcome visitors at first glance, even a clan of perfectly decorated Swiss dairy cows peak around each corner.


A Swiss bakery and stores line Main Street offering a taste of what the original immigrants brought with them.


To fully understand the Swiss heritage of this celebrated village, we turned to a resident expert, John Marty.


Marty met us at the globally-known, Swiss Historical Village, where he worked for decades alongside countless volunteers who keep the Swiss spirit alive at the village.


In 1942, the Swiss Historical Society started out to preserve the town's history by establishing the village and it's a perfect place to learn about the earliest immigrants.


“Everyone who came in 1845 came from these two valleys," said Marty, as he show us a relief map depicting the area of Switzerland from which the original Swiss immigrants came.


The very rugged area of Canton Glarus is also depicted on this mural at the start of the tour.


Poor textile workers who fell prey to the industrial revolution made the 4-month journey on the hope of a new life.


The Swiss government sent two scouts to find and buy new land through a highly planned journey amd they ended up in St. Louis.


"Because they had been told in switzerland that if you head to the St. Louis area, you can purchase land there for $1.25 an acre from the federal government,” explained Marty.


Once they arrived, the land was mainly under private ownership and selling for much higher prices. This unexpected turn is what led the group to the Wisconsin territory.


"They found the area we call downtown New Glarus today and they liked what they saw there,” Marty said. “There were trees there for building their homes, farmland, a stream going by for fishing and setting up mills, this is it, this is what we're going to buy."


Marty spent decades telling others about this story, in part because it's also his story. He’s a direct descendant of the Legler clan, which was one of the original 200 plus immigrants.


So Marty's roots run as deep as New Glarus itself. The village is a must-see and the thousands of people who visit each year would agree.


Another stop in town includes the Chalet of the Golden Fleece Museum, the former private home of the well-traveled townsman, Edwin Barlow.


Guides move you through his 1937 home modeled after a Bernese mountain chalet showing Barlow's collection pieces that date hundreds of years back.


Some of the pieces date back hundreds of years, including chandeliers, tables, sculptures and antique plaques that show the cultural side of a bye-gone era when men like Barlow lived to travel and entertain.


It's a collection worth seeing and it's just one stop in a town that transports you a different place and time with each visit.


New Glarus will celebrate St. Nicholas Day December 7th, which includes a Christmas cookie walk full of traditional Swiss treats.

Road Tripping: New Glarus

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