Crossroads At Big Creek

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Crossroads At Big Creek is a 200-acre nature and historical preservation located in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Crossroads was created in 1992 through the "vision and dreams" of the Sturgeon Bay Education Foundation. Crossroads is open to the public daily, housing many on-site attractions as well as a vast amount of natural areas to explore and enjoy, while also offering many educational functions, including classes and lectures taught by volunteer individuals.

Foundation of the Crossroads

Founded in 1992 through the vision of the Sturgeon Bay Education Foundation, there were seven individuals who were the initial members of the Sturgeon Bay Education Foundation, Tom Austad, John Collins, Jack Detwig, Del Herrbold, Jim Maki, Tom Olsen, and Chuck Olsen. Through the efforts of their combined vision, the initial 50 plus acres of land was purchased in 1992, paving the way for the creation of the Crossroads as we know it today. Over the next decade, an additional 58 acres of land would be purchased.

Mission Statement and Goals of the Crossroads

The Crossroads serves as more than just a nature attraction, as the primary goal of the founders was to create a "a preserve for experiential lifelong learning focused on science, history and the environment", which has been accomplished through the installations of a variety of facilities located within the Crossroads. Crossroads hosts many educational classes directed by various knowledgeable speakers who offer their services.

As part of this mission, a primary goal of the founder of Crossroads was to provide a place of learning. Crossroads offers many classes, lectures, and guest speakers, as well as hosting numerous other events including visual art demonstrations and concerts held on the Crossroads grounds. Many facilities on site are useful for interactive learning, including multiple laboratories, both indoor and outdoor, a specialized library, as well as a greenhouse that enables the research of botany and other environmental sciences. Other on site attractions that offer learning opportunities include the public observatory and astronomy center.

Attractions of the Crossroads

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Spanning 200-acres, the Crossroads nature preserve contains various attractions, apart from the nature of the area, that act as unique learning opportunities. Crossroads is home to The John & Helen Collins Learning Center, The Science Laboratory, The Hanson Library, Riley Amphitheater, Astronomy Campus, The Leif Everson Observatory(pictured above), The StarGarden, Human Sundial, and The Ray and Ruthie Stonecipher Astronomy Center. All of which are located on the 200-acres of land and accessible to the public.

Heritage Village of Crossroads

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One of the primary attractions of Crossroads is the Heritage Village, a historical recreation of the daily life and community for the inhabitants of rural Door County from 1880 to 1910. Within the village there are multiple buildings available for exploration. These include the Vignes School, a recreation of what a school house would have been during this time period, The Greene General Store, The Petersen Granary/Blacksmith Shop, The Chapel of Crossroads, The Schopf House, The Kohl Fish House, and The Heritage Garden.


Research of the Crossroads

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Crossroads is also utilized for professional research by various Wisconsin institutions including during the summertime by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Microbiology Department to conduct physical research. This research includes water quality and beach research to monitor the quality of water at the 31 beaches located in Door County. This information is used to determine whether water is safe to be swum in by the general public. In addiction to analysis of water quality to determine if swimming was permissible, the research conducted includes a collection and analysis of pollutants found within the water, in efforts to determine the source. These researches have developed a baseline for which they measure water quality by: "developing the general trend data to identify main sources of pollution, providing insight to the pollution sources for each beach, and collecting data that will be useful for producing a predictive multivariate model of contaminant occurrences.

In addition to water quality research, Crossroads has hosted professional archaeologists from Midwest Archaeological Consultants, that have surveyed, gridded, and shovel-tested a large portion of the Zenith Street property, turning up arrowheads, pieces of pottery, and other flakes and chips in a significant enough quantity to justify a full scale archaeological investigation, given the indication that this property may well be founded on top of a former Native American settlement.

People of the Crossroads

Present day, the Crossroads is a non-profit organization run by a board of directors comprised of ten individuals, President Dick Weidman, Vice President Richard Hauser, Treasurer Luke Collins, Secretary Robert Gray, as well as Matt Luders, Karen Dickson, Brian Forest, Mark Honold, Gretchen Schmelzer, and Colleen Elliot. Being the non-profit organization that it is, much of the work done at crossroads is provided through volunteer efforts or donations from community members, as are many of the actual sites of attraction.

Additional Published Resources

https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Property/HI146846

References


1. "About Crossroads." Crossroads at Big Creek. March 27, 2017. Accessed December 19, 2017. http://www.crossroadsatbigcreek.com/about/.

2. Heritage Village at Big Creek. Accessed December 19, 2017. http://historicalvillage.doorcountyhistoricalsociety.org/.

3."HOME." Crossroads Church of Sturgeon Bay. Accessed December 19, 2017. http://www.crossroadschurchsbay.com/.

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