Harry Houdini was legendary for his daring escapes, but he's still never escaped the public's imagination. To wit: AKA Houdini, whose artifacts offer a hands-on glimpse into some of his most infamous tricks. Along with the Appleton-raised illusionist, The History Museum at the Castle's award-winning exhibits focus on other notable Fox Valley natives, including Senator Joseph McCarthy. Dating back to the 1840s, the museum's collection of Fox Valley artifacts includes 35,000 photographs and 20,000 pieces, such as parts of a vintage gas station. At an exhibit tracing the origins of the area's most famous foods, such as frozen custard and fish fries, visitors can even spear sturgeons inside a life-size virtual ice shanty.
These pieces of Fox Valley history are housed inside a Masonic temple listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1923, the temple exemplifies the medieval, Norman Revival style with rough-hewn stone, vaulted ceilings, and fire-breathing dragons guarding its entrance. Designed as a community center, the temple continues to serve that function by hosting the museum's year-round events, including papermaking programs and magic workshops.
The True Kulture Screenprint Shop teaches teenagers how to decorate T-shirts, hats, and canvasses with training in graphic-arts and screenprinting techniques. Students learn how to design and market original products to develop both entrepreneurial and artistic skills, and train for design-oriented career paths alongside mentors who work in creative industries. Teens can begin by selling their products online and in local stores, and as the program expands, they will receive stipends to further their projects. True Skool needs additional funding to purchase a UV-screen exposure unit, along with ink and supplies for its printing workshop.
In the late 1970s career educators Eileen and Raymond Huntington opened the first Huntington Learning Center in Oradell, New Jersey. Their goal was to take an individualized approach to education, adjusting instructional tactics according to each student's set of needs. Their success in helping K–12 students prepare for exams and improve grades and study skills quickly spawned franchises across New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere. Today, the certified Huntington tutoring staff utilizes testing and rubrics for assessing each child's skills, academic needs and potential for growth. The teachers even note the student's behavior in different testing and academic situations to craft a methodology sensitive to each child's learning style. Teachers also adhere to the company's code of ethics that stresses professionalism and confidentiality and encourages pupils to improve their grades honestly through dedicated study rather than shortcuts.
Resting beneath natural light from the skylights mounted above it, the hulking figure of the 1.2 million-pound Union Pacific Big Boy cloaks visitors in a shadow that stretches for nearly 50 yards. As guests ascend the monstrous cab of this steam locomotive, they enter the centerpiece of the National Railroad Museum, a chamber echoing with more than 150 years of American railroading history.
After exiting Big Boy, guests can view a computer-generated porter that recounts how African-American rail workers formed the nation's first all-black labor union, and another stop invites passengers to view inside a portion of General Eisenhower's WWII command train. Elsewhere in the museum, various collections are housed with more than 15,000 photographs, archives such as maps and engineering drawings, and more than 5,000 artifacts including uniforms and tools.
The National Railroad Museum has over 60 pieces of rolling stock, including diesel, steam, and electric locomotives, and passenger and freight cars. Among these are some of the most influential and unique pieces in railroading history, including a number of items that pertain to the state of Wisconsin.
Other must-sees of the museum include General Motors’ experimental Aerotrain; the streamlined Pennsylvania Railroad No. 4890, a GG-1 electric locomotive; and the Frederick Bauer Drumhead Collection, the largest, single collection of railroad drumheads known to exist in the United States. Most facilities are accessible, except where rolling stock cannot be altered due to their historic nature. The Museum’s train ride is accessible, and a wheelchair lift is available.
A train ride is offered on a daily basis from May through September and guided tours are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The Museum also hosts a variety of special events for all ages.
Sometimes numbers speak louder than letters. And sometimes they come together to tell a wonderfully vociferous story: six large-screen TVs, 700 full CDs, and 2,000 music videos. That's the tale of the tape at Third Base Sports Bar & Grill, where the staff navigates around a pool table and dartboard to serve pizza, burgers, and sandwiches. The menu includes a BLT stack and a philly wrap with shredded steak, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, and mozzarella. The team rents out a party room for $15 per hour, which includes a lighting-and-sound system and a dancing stage that actually gets up and dances in front of the floors of the other rooms. The libation department complements the food team by serving Budweiser, Blue Moon, and Miller Lite.
The team at Fond du Lac Center for Spirituality and Healing dedicates itself to helping clients achieve spiritual fulfillment through the Himalayan Institute yoga tradition and soothing holistic treatments. Instructors foster harmony of body, mind, and spirit in yoga and tai chi classes and massage therapists lull clients into tranquility with therapeutic massages, acupuncture, and aromatherapy.