History and Nature


(May 2019) On this episode of Bayfield County Wild, Tourism Director Mary Motiff talks about the rich history that’s been preserved in Bayfield County with more museums per capita than most of the country and 22 sites on the National Registry of Historic Places. We learn what a naturalist does from Cable Natural History Museum Education Director, Emily Stone. Plus, we highlight some great events in May.


A few years back, the Washington Post did an article about the number of museums in the United States, which is about double the number of Starbuck’s and McDonald’s locations combined. Data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services shows that Bayfield County had the 6th largest number of museums per capita in the entire United States.  If you are a history buff, there’s a lot to see and do at museums and historic sites in Drummond, Cable, Mason, Bayview, Oulu, Cornucopia and beyond. According to Mary, many of the County’s 16 museums can be found along the WI Lake Superior Scenic Byway, which received that designation because of all the natural, cultural, historic and geographic resources and attractions along the way.

Those who like architecture will like visiting Bayfield County’s historic sites which include the Apostle Islands Lighthouses, Bayfield and Washburn’s Historic Districts and seven shipwrecks, some that are so close to the surface you can see them while kayaking or taking a cruise in a glass bottom boat. A brochure, produced by the Bayfield County Historic Society, can be ordered online by clicking on the “Request information” menu item on the Visitors section of the Bayfield County website. 


Emily StoneA naturalist is “a type of biologist who studies the impacts of living species on each other and the environments in which they live.” Naturalist and Education Director at the Cable Natural History Museum, Emily Stone, says the best stories can be found in nature. Emily has a degree in outdoor education with an emphasis on natural history and a minor in geology from Northland College. She also has a master’s as a field naturalist from the University of Vermont. Emily says she is lucky to be working in Bayfield County where glacial history, protected lands and cool plants make it such an exciting place to explore. She shares her discoveries in a weekly column she writes for about a dozen newspapers called “Natural Connections” in Wisconsin and Minnesota, plus a compilation of her writings that can be found in two books of the same name.

Emily says the main mission of the museum is to showcase its collections of Northern Wisconsin native species, which she calls the “dead stuff,” and it's living collections which include a Red Tail Hawk and an American Kestrel, plus a salamander and two snakes. The staff puts on about 200 public programs every year. This year a new exhibit opens at the museum on May 25 called “Power Pollinators” featuring birds, wasps, beetles, bees, butterflies and moths and a new Curiosity Center for kids. The Center includes a two-story tree that kids can climb up - one branch of the tree has a slide and climbing wall. The other side has a bird’s nest where you can launch a flying squirrel on a zip line.

The museum also hosts master naturalist training and advanced master naturalist training throughout the summer for those who are interested in high-level training on land management and citizen science to work as volunteers at non-profits and other agencies.

On July 27, the museum throws its biggest party, its Summer Benefit, featuring a dinner, live music and auction. Proceeds benefit the museum.

The museum also conducts Junior Day Camps and Storytime at Redberry Books, as well as many more lectures and family programs. If you want to learn more about all these programs, you can visit the Cable Natural History museum’s website and sign up for its weekly e-newsletter. The newsletter includes Emily’s weekly column, a calendar of events and blogs by museum staff. You can also follow the museum’s Facebook and Instagram pages. 


  • May 4 – 31:                   Hauser’s Annual Red Barn Plant Sale
  • May 9:                           Dam it: Why Beavers Matter, presented by Ben Goldfarb
  • May 11:                         Hungry Bear 100 Race
  • May 15 – June 9:          Eat. Drink. Washburn
  • May 16 – 18:                 Chequamegon Bay Birding & Nature Festival
  • May 25:                         Cable Natural History Museum Grand Opening 
  • May 18 – Oct. 20           Apostle Island Cruises begins regular schedule
  • May 25 – early Oct.:      Port Wing Saturday Market


We’ll talk about the world-class sailing opportunities and chat with Tim Landgren from the Northern Pines Golf Course.    


Barnes Trading Post & Wilderness Inn - This historic property in the Town of Barnes began in 1888 and is now a get-a-way for all seasons. Fishing, hiking, swimming, water skiing, picking wild blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in the summer months, plus hunting, snowmobiling and ice fishing during the winter months. Relax in any of 8, beautifully-themed suites and enjoy the great company at the bar, which serves great food breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Washburn Inn and Harbor View Event Center – The Harbor View Event Center is the perfect place to host a memorable experience for any type of event or celebration. Relax next door at the newly-remodeled Washburn Inn and plan your next event at the Harbor View Event Center.

Winfield Inn & Gardens – This is the perfect family vacation destination. There are lots of lodging options, plus a spectacular view of Lake Superior, beautiful gardens and close proximity to attractions and events in Bayfield.