In 1936 things were looking up, the worst of Great Depression had passed Prohibition was over; WWII had not started. In and around Prairie du Chien, WPA workers were finishing the swimming pool, the Dousman heirs gave the Villa Louis to the city & construction on the Lynxville Dam had started. People complained about the drought and the riverfront being used as a city dump.
Also in 1936 the Winneshiek was built as a bar at 210 North Second Street. Since it had a one-third basement it was likely set on an old foundation. Then for a half century the Winneshiek stood on historic Main Village Lot 23 just behind the St. Feriole Island Depot.
1940's & 1950's
People that grew up in the 4th Ward during the 40's & 50's remember when the north end of the Winneshiek was a bar and the south end was a grocery store. Several people admit they went there with their high school dates and friends.
Tom & Harriet Smith ran the Winneshiek until Tom's death in the summer of 1960. By that time the grocery store had disappeared and the bar expanded to take up the entire building. Mrs. Smith leased the business for a time before selling it to Leo & Florence Weber
Employees from the Packing Plant located in the Dousman House from the late 30's to mid 1952 stopped and cashed their checks. They often ran into those from the Deck stopping after work.
The Winneshiek and the other famed 4th Ward tavern; McClure's, later the Rosegarden were classic examples of neighborhood bars. Although they were not quite the Spit & Whistle (Prairie du Chien's legendary tavern on South Main) they did have their charms and loyal regulars. There was always a lot of dancing at the Winneshiek.
The Name, Winneshiek
The name may have been for the Winnebago chief who lived in this area. It is just as likely that it may have been named for the sportsmen's paradise on the Mississippi known as The Winneshiek; a large network of islands where the highway crosses between Lansing, Iowa & Wisconsin. When the locks and dams were built and the time when the Winnie was built the cherished Winneshiek was largely destroyed.
The Weber's Ownership
Leo & Florence Weber ran the Winneshiek from the mid 1960's until they sold the property to the city part of the St. Feriole Island Relocation project in 1984. In the later years the Winneshiek was only open on the weekends. Tragically after they sold the bar, the Weber's were both killed in a plane crash with Leo as the pilot.
Moving "The Winnie"
The current owner Blair Dillman bought the Winneshiek & floated int on a barge up the slough to it's present location on Frenchtown Road (County K) across from "The Barn" on the banks of the Winneshiek Marina, in Greymore Lake.