Day Three (08.19.10)
Aldo Leopold’s Shack & Visitor’s Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin
A few years ago, I read the Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold and it changed my life and the way I pursue landscape architecture. That being said, a day was devoted on the Wisconsin Tour to going out and treading in the footsteps of this truly influential figure.
The Aldo Leopold Legacy Center was designed really neatly into the landscape. It was built with sustainability in mind and was made with recycled wood and the landscape was designed for low maintenance and sustainable water management. The courtyard made by the three buildings also made the center welcoming.
Aldo’s actual shack was located about a mile away down the road from the center, but we could ride the center’s bicycles instead of walking or driving.
The site incorporated a lot of environmentally conscious features such as rain water gardens and a prairie landscape. The roof of just about every building was dotted with solar panels and the wood was harvested locally from the trees which had been planted by Leopold himself nearly 70 years ago! The center also featured some gallery space and educational areas about the goals of the center and the legacy of the man behind it all.
‘The Shack’ was a quaint little chicken coop converted into a cabin. It was surrounded by woods and prairie and was just a stone’s throw from the Wisconsin River. The area was dotted with lots of pine trees and we had to fight through swarms of mosquitoes to see the place. After we took a walk down by the river a group of men showed up and seemed to be having a meeting at the shack. We were allowed to step inside and see what it is like inside and look at some family photos taken by the Leopolds. The shack hasn’t changed much over the years and still boasts a simple layout… I couldn’t imagine spending the winters here with such a large family!
A few short walk away from the shack is the Wisconsin River. We had to walk through a big sandy area to get to it, now we knew why this area is known as Sand County!
The land restoration of Aldo’s property was done by himself and his family. A large amount of the restoration was given to the prairie landscape.