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The Way it Was: La Crosse's first McDonald's

This 1962 street view, taken by former Tribune advertising manager Howard Colvin, shows La Crosse’s first McDonald’s at 2727 Losey Blvd. S. This fast food drive-in opened in 1959 with hamburgers selling for 15 cents, equivalent to $1.30 in today’s money. This McDonald’s was remodeled in 1969 before being replaced in 1976 by a location at at 2810 S. Losey Blvd. That building was razed in 2019 to make room for a new facility. The former site of the first local McDonald’s is now a parking lot for Altra Federal Credit Union at 2715 Losey Blvd. S. Anyone with more information about this photo or wishing to donate photos of the Coulee Region may contact the La Crosse Public Library Archives at 608-789-7136.

For photos of other restaurants in the La Crosse area you'll never eat at again, click here.

Three months after the old one closed, the new McDonald’s restaurant at 2810 S. Losey Blvd. in La Crosse will open Thursday. Grand reopening specials and other promotions are planned from Thursday to Aug. 1.

The new McDonald’s was built just north of the old one, which was razed after it closed in late April. Hours will be 5 a.m. to midnight seven days a week.

“It was just time” to replace the old McDonald’s, which opened in 1976, said Rick Lommen, president of Courtesy Corp. That Onalaska-based franchisee operates 62 McDonald’s restaurants in western Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa.

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Steve Cahalan

The new restaurant on the city’s South Side is the very first McDonald’s to have McDonald’s newest exterior design. It has three double-sided kiosks, where up to six customers at a time can place their orders. Customers also can go to the counter to place orders, as they have in the past.

There will be table service for dine-in orders; those customers will receive a table tent, and the food will be delivered to their table.

Like other local McDonald’s, mobile ordering is available, which allows customers to order and pay on their smartphone.

The new McDonald’s has about 6,200 square feet of space, up from 5,100 square feet in the old building. It can seat about 122 customers, up from 119 at the old building. The new restaurant has about 100 employees, the same as at the old building.

For more information, visit www.mccourtesy.com or Courtesy Corp.’s Facebook page.


The Winona-based Rivers Hotel Co. has purchased undeveloped land at 2614 Midwest Drive in Onalaska from Weber Holdings LLC, for $4,368,328, according to a deed and related documents filed earlier this month with the La Crosse County Recorder of Deeds office.

A Winona Daily News reporter who stopped at the company’s office on Tuesday was told that the hotel development firm isn’t ready to announce its plans for the Onalaska site, and the company had not yet filed any plans with the city.

Rivers Hotel Co. was established in 1992 and most in May opened a 97-room Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel at the former site of the Winona Holiday Inn, according to Winona Daily News files.

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Linda and Brian Back have opened the Woods Edge Campground at the former location of Holiday Lodge RV Resort at 10558 Freedom Road near Tomah.

The Backs, who live in the Madison suburb of Cottage Grove, bought the property last September and worked to get the campground back into shape before opening it in April. The property was closed all of 2018. It has spaces for recreational vehicles and tents.

While only about eight acres are developed, the entire property is about 26 acres, Linda Back said. She and her husband plan to continue developing the property by adding more RV spots, adding cabins, turning a pond on the property into a beach area and perhaps turning the other into a fishing spot.

Before opening and running the campground, Linda Back worked for 17 years at a bank in the Madison area. Her husband continues to work as a mechanical contractor, as he has done the past 26 years.

“We were going to be empty nesters soon,” Linda Back said. “My daughter still has two years left of high school, so we were looking for something different to do once she graduates,” she said. The Backs are avid boaters and campers.

For more information, call the campground at 608-343-4055 or visit www.woodsedgecampground.com or Facebook.


The merger of F&M Bank in Tomah into Citizens Community Federal (CCFBank) has been completed, Citizens announced earlier this month. The planned merger was announced in January.

F&M Bank merged into Citizens in a transaction valued at about $24 million. F&M Bank brought $195 million in assets, $152 million in deposits and $126 million in loans to the Citizens franchise, as of March 31. The combined company, headquartered in Altoona, Wis., has more than $1.5 billion in assets and 28 locations in northwest Wisconsin and southern Minnesota.

F&M Bank was founded in 1911.

Citizens said F&M Bank customers would continue to use their current F&M Bank products and services until the conversion of the banking systems in mid-July.

For more information, call Citizens at 715-836-9999 visit either bank’s branches or www.ccf.us.

Steve Cahalan can be reached at stevecahalan.reporter@gmail.com or 608-791-8441. Meghan Flynn of the Tomah Journal contributed to this column.

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