Friday, May 27, 2011
Dialing up the Forgotten History of UW-Madison's "Ghost Town by the Lake"
One of the most unique features of the University of Wisconsin-Madison lasted for 50 years, from 1912 through 1962.
Providing inexpensive natural living in a woodsy paradise, the "Tent Colony" was the place along Lake Mendota below what's now Eagle Heights where every summer tents were erected on permanent wooden platforms to serve as housing for up to 300 students and family members, creating an amazing summertime community along the lake.
We were walking through the UW's Lakeshore Nature Preserve yesterday and came across this marker along the path through Tent Colony Woods, the stretch of woods between Frautschi Point and Wally Bauman Woods. In a curious mingling of past and technological present, the marker gave a phone number to call for the story of the "ghost town by the lake," and we dialed right into history. (To hear the entire narration, call 608-327-5715 from anywhere -- although the effect is more dramatic when you're standing there amid the ghosts of the past, with the wind rippling through the trees.) The "Tent Colony" link above also provides more history.
Wondering what that large concrete block is in the background? That's where the Tent Colony's hand-operated water pump once stood.