Sitting as it does on what is reportedly the second highest point in Wisconsin, the view from the “castle” that overlooks the village of Elk Mound is truly an awe-inspiring sight.
The 1,220-foot mound from which the imposing tower rises is believed to have been the place where the war council of the Chippewa and Black Hawk Indians once met. There are also rumors that a herd of elk once roamed the hill, giving the village its name.
In 1933, Louis and Marie Nelson deeded the hill to the village and Dunn County to create what is known as Elk Mound Park. To give men work during the Depression, the road to its summit was built – mostly by hand using picks, shovels and wheelbarrows -- under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration. WPA workers also built fireplaces on the hill as well as picnic tables and, of course, outhouses.
The “castle” was constructed during the summer of 1938. Topped by an observation deck, the three-story tower included a kitchen with cookstoves and dining room. Both featured sliding glass windows with screens. Although those amenities were destroyed over the years by vandals, the sturdy structure remains a treasured landmark.
Closed in 1953, Elk Mound’s Boy Scout Troop 71 spent two years cleaning up the park which was reopened in 1959. Liability concerns caused the area to be closed to the public once again in 1987. Thanks to diligent work students in May 1994 by the village board and high school, safety features like guard railings were installed, ensuring that Elk Mound’s “castle” and surrounding park remain accessible to all.
Source: History of Elk Mound, WI by Marvin and Charlotte Cartwright.