Monday, October 31, 2011

Tent Colony Woods

It's starting to get chilly here in Madison, but bikers, joggers, and walkers are still making use of the Lakeshore Path. While today's students use this area of the UW Madison Campus for recreation and study, one area of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve used to be a summer home to up to 300 residents. After the area was purchased in 1911 for the then-high price of $1100 per acre, a group of College of Agriculture students requested to set up tents there for the summer, rather than pay high housing costs for the summer term. The university, pleased to demonstrate the need for the land purchase, agreed.

The "tent colony" soon became a summer tradition, and in following years, rustic amenities such as tent platforms, water pumps, and even a study area, were provided in Tent Colony Woods. Many of the campers were the families of male students, whose wives and children spent time at camp while their fathers were at summer session classes. Each summer, these temporary residents even elected such "officials" as a mayor, postmaster, and newspaper editor, among others.

The practice of students camping in Tent Colony Woods continued into the late 1950s. At this time, the university had an increase in available housing for students, including the new Eagle Heights Apartments.

For more information, pictures, and maps, visit the Lakeshore Nature Preserve web page.