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    Wisconsin Maritime Museum
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2009 Nov 8, 21:30 -0800

    This is a bit off-topic, but since our resident Wisconsonian, Wisconsonite?, 
    er... cheesehead? is currently reading along, I thought I would pass along an 
    experience I had a couple of months ago (previously posted elsewhere)...
    
    I visited the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, WI in late August this 
    year. It was cold and foggy with light rain (what an odd summer it was in the 
    upper Midwest). My original plan was to pay a quick visit to the USS Cobia 
    (submarine), run through the museum quickly, and then go have a nice hot 
    lunch somewhere. Instead, the museum was rather busy and there were no 
    openings for tours for an hour and a half, so I "decided" I would spend more 
    time exploring the museum. And what a fine museum it is! It tells the story 
    of Manitowoc's submarine building days before and during the Second World 
    War, but it's much more than that. It is a comprehensive display of the 
    history of boating and shipping on the Great Lakes. It features an impressive 
    steam engine, around 15 feet tall from the vessel "Chief Wawatam" (built in 
    1911, the steam engine was added to the museum in a significant expansion 
    which opened in 2003). The engine is rigged to operate hydraulically in 
    various modes at the push of a button. In the next room, there's a replica of 
    the twelve-foot propeller which turns slowly as the engine runs. Other 
    displays cover 19th century (and earlier) ship-building with beautiful models 
    and artifacts tastefully displayed. There are numerous small boats on display 
    inside the building. There are plenty of activities for kids including a 
    fishing simulator, which I really wanted to try. Displays cover maritime 
    history from every angle: commercial, military, recreational, scientific, and 
    so on. There's a small display on celestial navigation (which was never 
    terribly important on the lakes, so I can forgive the glaring error in its 
    descriptive text --the only error I saw in the museum). The museum's exhibits 
    are well-designed and well-executed. It's one of the best maritime museums 
    I've ever seen. The scale is just about right. A family could spend a 
    pleasant two or three hours here seeing almost everything at a normal pace. 
    Oh, did I mention they have a submarine??
    
    The USS Cobia was apparently the original center of the Wisconsin Maritime 
    Museum, it's raison d'etre. Much to the credit of its planners, the fine 
    museum has grown up around it. The Cobia itself is beautifully restored and 
    the tour was informative and enjoyable, occasionally funny without being 
    corny. My only complaint was that the tour was perhaps a touch too long but I 
    think that's because the interpreter that day was new on the job --and maybe 
    tired after a long full day of tours. The sub looks just great inside and 
    out, and of the thirteen museum subs I've visited in the past few months, 
    only the marvelous USS Cod in Cleveland beats it for presentation. Cobia, 
    however, beats Cod since there is no museum to support the Cleveland sub.
    
    The Wisconsin Maritime Museum and the USS Cobia are a "must-see" for anyone 
    interested in submarines and maritime history generally. It's a long way to 
    go for most people, but anyone in Chicago should consider adding it to a trip 
    to Door County or other points "up north". It could also easily be combined 
    with a trip to Oshkosh if you're heading out for the annual EAA aviation 
    spectacular. The museum is well-advertised by highway signs and easy to reach 
    just a few minutes off Interstate 43.
    
    Highly recommended. Grade A. Five stars. I will certainly go back.
    
    -FER
    
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