The Waunakee Public Library’s History Hall contains three exhibits on different topics of the community’s past, but after the first three rotating display cases were completed last July, one will take on a new form, with artifacts to depict a new area of life in the village.
The display case showcasing farming from earlier days is set to be replaced later this month, said the curator, Judy Borke, so anyone who hasn’t seen it has a few weeks left to do so.
Borke said the artifacts – tools used in the farm fields – have been on loan and will soon be returned. Photographs of farm life on display were scanned and will remain with the library.
The display case will next feature the community’s first churches – St. Mary of the Lake, St. John’s and First Presbyterian Church, and while Borke has been collecting artifacts from all of the churches, she was reluctant to say which will be displayed until she arranges the case. In the future, a follow-up on religion in Waunakee will feature the churches that came afterwards.
The same is true for the exhibit featuring Waunakee’s rural school houses; the current display showcases only the primary schools, but another future exhibit will focus on the high school and later schools.
The third current exhibit focuses on the railroad in Waunakee. Borke noted that the decision to locate the railroad stop in Waunakee “spurred the development of the community.”
On loan for that exhibit is a life-size figure of a train conductor from the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom, which library staff have observed as startling to some visitors, Borke said.
That exhibit brought to light the symbiotic relationship between the railroad and the telegraph companies, Borke said. The telegraphs were granted permission from the railroad companies to locate their poles along their right-of-way, and the railroad workers used the telegraph to communicate.
Also, in the 1950s, trains served meals to passengers attending UW football games, Borke said.
The exhibits entail a great deal of work as Borke collects artifacts from historical societies and local residents to display then returns the pieces once the exhibits come down, but Borke seems to like it.
“I enjoy historical research,” she said.
Other ideas for future exhibits include military service, the development of Waunakee’s public works and the area’s natural resources, Borke said.