Polish Heritage Trail - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Polish Heritage Trail

ROSHOLT (WAOW)—When Wisconsin's first Polish immigrants arrived in 1857, they opted for the farmland of Central Wisconsin instead of the urban areas other immigrant groups chose.  Once established, Portage County's settlers became the first rural Polish settlement in the state and the second in the country.

"They came here for land," President of the Polish Awareness Society Gayle Phillip told Newsline 9.  "It wasn't easy, that's for sure, but it was worth staying for."

The Polish Heritage Awareness Society, based in Stevens Point, Wis., has established a self-guided auto tour highlighting contributions the original Polish immigrants to the area made on the landscape. 

The tour includes many historic churches, road-side crosses and shrines. 

"The shrines are so unique" Phillip said, "there are really only five places in the whole United States that have these shrines." 

Auto tour guide maps can be picked up at the Stevens Point Area Visitors Center, 340 Division Street North, Stevens Point, Wis.   

Online Reporter Rob Duns (WAOW)


To visit the locations featured on WAOW Newsline 9's Wandering Wisconsin, follow these directions provided by the Polish Heritage Awareness Society: 


From County Road I, continue straight as it winds east and north to its intersection with County Highway Z.  As you approach the intersection, you will see a shrine on the northwest corner.  Another shrine, not as well tended, is location about a mile away on County Highway OO.  Follow I to the north and turn right on OO.  The shrine is on the left surrounded by shrubbery.  Also notice the huge rocks while have been moved from the field to fence rows.  What a challenge to have had to work the land around them!

Follow OO eastward for one mile and then turn left on Hamilton Road.  Follow it for 1.2 miles as it winds north and east to St. Adalbert Road.  Turn left and travel north toward Rosholt.  As you approach St. Adalbert's Church, you will find a cross on your right nestled in lilac bushes at 3149 St. Adalbert Road and just past the church, also on the right at 3379, stands a very tall white cross next to the driveway. 

There is also a shrine located on the corner of the church grounds.  This parish, organized in 1898, is also a daughter parish of Sacred Heart.  The present church was built in 1935.


Go east on Highway 66 to County Highway Z and turn right to view the grounds of what is now know as Sacred Heart Catholic Church.  A bronze plaque on the right-hand corner of this church, built in 1934, pays tribute to the first Polish settlers of the area.  The cemetery overlooking the church contains the grave sites of most of these people.    

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