Welcome back. This week we take a tour of Two Rivers, Wisconsin located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Last week, I shared photos and words about Point Beach State Forest situated about five miles north of Two Rivers. If you missed that article, here’s a link, Point Beach State Forest. As I mentioned in that article, we are serving as volunteer campground hosts at Point Beach. Our duties allow us time to explore and enjoy the area.
Two Rivers, organized in 1848, has a current population of just over 11,000 people, down about 6% from the 2010 census.
Two Rivers derives its name from the confluence of the two rivers that merge just before spilling into Lake Michigan. Those rivers are appropriately named, the West Twin River (formerly the Neshota River) and the East Twin River (formerly the Mishicot River). Below are photos of the rivers and the confluence.
The Twin rivers and Lake Michigan provide unlimited opportunities for recreation such as fishing, boating, kayaking, and even surfing. On one of our stops at Neshotah Beach in Two Rivers on a windy day, a group of young fellas were practicing riding the waves.
In the harbor, a couple of brave kayakers were furiously paddling their way to the Lake. In a few minutes, they returned, apparently due to the rough water.
The water level on Lake Michigan is quite high. This makes the rivers that flow into the lake higher too. As we traveled around the area, we observed some flooding in low lying areas along the rivers. The high water is good for boaters that want to explore the Two Rivers Water Trail.
At the harbor entrance, the Two Rivers Pierhead on the northside guides boats safely into the harbor. While on the southside, the long pier provides ample space for those interested in fishing from shore a place to wet their lines. Visitors looking to the south and west can see the outline of the city of Manitowoc some six miles down the coast.
Two Rivers, often pronounced by locals “Trivers”, has a number of other nicknames. Two are “The Coolest Spot in Wisconsin” and “The Cool City.” These names came about because the air temperature is always a little cooler than other nearby locations especially during the spring. This is due to the moderating effect of the water temperature from Lake Michigan. The city takes this nickname to heart as they provide free wifi along Washington Street and call it “Cool City Hot Spot!” Thanks to the city for providing that access so I can publish this post while away from my home internet service.
Two Rivers is a city of museums, four by my count. The Rogers Street Historic Fishing Village and Great Lakes Coast Guard Museum is located on the shores of the East Twin River. This museum celebrates over 175 years of the areas fishing heritage, as well as exhibits on Native Americans. This museum also includes the old Two Rivers Pier Head Light. It’s closed due to the virus, but visitors can walk around the buildings and enjoy the nearby marina.
The Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum features the printing history with a focus on the use of print wood type. It’s housed in a factory that once was the nation’s largest producer of wood type. It was open the day we stopped by for the photo below. During normal times, our curiosity would have prompted us to tour this indoor museum.
Nearby is the Two Rivers Farm Museum. It’s closed at this time but is said to have a robust display of horse-drawn farm machinery. Again, due to my background in agriculture, I would like to see their exhibits.
The Historic Washington House is located a block off Washington Street, Two Rivers’ main street. This visitor’s center and museum houses Ed Berners’ Ice Cream Parlor where the ice cream sundae was invented in 1881. It’s said that Berners was asked by a man to drizzle chocolate syrup over his dish of ice cream. It was on a Sunday. Originally, this treat was only sold on Sundays but was so popular that he served it everyday of the week. The spelling was eventually changed when a glass salesman ordered canoe-shaped sundae dishes. Two Rivers’ claim on the first ice cream sundae is disputed by the city of Ithaca, New York. Back in the day they even traded ads in each other newspapers asking the other to prove their claim. I’m not going to get in the middle of this ancient battle, I’m just happy that someone invented the sundae! My favorite is hot fudge, what’s yours?
Near the Washington House is the Two Rivers City Hall, with a banner heralding the birthplace of the ice cream sundae.
In the well appointed Central Park in front of City Hall, is a statue honoring those who served in the War Between the States.
Across the street is another park with a gazebo and bandstand where locals can gather to listen to music and performances. There is also a farmers and craft market held Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings during the growing season.
To the south of City Hall is Schroeder’s Department Store. This is one of the few department stores left in small town Wisconsin. Schroeder’s, has been in business since 1891. It was started by four brothers and continues to be run by members of the Schroeder family. They offer men’s and women’s apparel and footwear, gifts, formal wear and alterations. The store also includes a popular coffee shop serving both hot and cold drinks. We wished times were different so we could browse the store aisles and enjoy a coffee or tea.
Two Rivers is just six or seven miles up the coast from the much larger city of Manitowoc. Together they have created the beautiful walking and biking path, the Mariners Trail, that connects the two cities. On the Two Rivers Section is this sculpture titled “Spirit of the Rivers” to honor the indigenous peoples that inhabited the area for thousands of years. The figures are of an elder, a woman and a young man portaging a canoe. It is quite impressive and a nice wayside when walking or biking the trail. Gardens dot the trail, the photo of the butterfly was taken at one of the flower gardens.
North of Two Rivers on Highway 47 is the unincorporated village of Two Creeks. As we drove past, I commented that it must be a suburb of Two Rivers. That smart aleck statement motivated me to stop and shoot a photo of the sign and then take a tour of the village. The only signs of life were a few houses, a farm repair shop and the Lutheran Church whose steeple can be seen in the photo. It was a very short tour, almost over before it began!
Join me next week for a tour of the city of Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
Until then, happy travels!