Trail of Presidents dedicated on Arbor Day
By Correne Martin
The Trail of Presidents trees were dedicated on a sunny Friday, April 25—Arbor Day—on the north side of St. Feriole Island in Prairie du Chien.
Organizers John Mundt and Tom Nelson presented the ceremony in front of local dignitaries, community members, Boy Scouts, high school music students and first graders. The Pledge of Allegiance and Star Spangled Banner, performed by the PdCHS music group, “Out to Lunch,” preceded introductions. Senator Jennifer Shilling and Assemblyman Lee Nerison were in attendance, in addition to city and Chamber of Commerce officials.
Partners of the park, who purchased the trees representing 22 presidents who have lived in or visited Prairie du Chien, were recognized. Then, they were led to their trees, marked with plaques explaining the presidents’ ties to Prairie du Chien. The school children walked the path and learned about the connections between nature and history as the pleasant event came to a close.
The trees are a mix of sturdy red and white oak along the trail where the old Villa Louis’ race track once laid. Two blue spruces anchor the beginning of the path. The trees are planted 30 feet apart, symbolizing Wisconsin being the 30th state in the union.
“It’s hard to take in,” said John Mundt, who had the original idea for the Trail of Presidents and passed it along to Tom Nelson, who organized the project. “When I was a kid, I thought the Villa Louis was local history and that was it. As I got older, I realized there was so much more that needed to be extolled. Not too many other small towns can say they’ve had half the presidents in their community. Every time I come back through here, I can be proud of what has been accomplished. I hope area kids and their families keep coming back here too.”