Check out these unique destinations that reflect the genuine character of our region.
Rollin Pin Bakery
1060 Harmony Plaza, Janesville
Bob Hiller was no stranger to the principal’s office, back in the 1940s. After getting caught for drawing in class, Hiller received a 30-minute detention he simply couldn’t serve.
“I had been working for Cunningham’s Bakery since I was 12, and they almost fired me for missing a shift,” Hiller says. “So, my 30-minute detention doubled.”
Before long, with every missed detention resulting in another detention, Hiller faced an important meeting with his principal that changed the course of his life. He could either find a way to make up 1,000 hours of missed detentions, or he could opt to drop out of school.
Hiller picked the latter option.
In 1944, without a high school diploma, Hiller rode his bike to a nearby bakery that was for sale and bought it for $900. Thus began a new life chapter full of creme puffs, chocolate eclairs, brownies and cookies of all kinds.
Today, the bakery maintains its hometown status with no phone number to call and no website to search for more information. Customers interested in Hiller’s baked treats must show up in person to place their order, and the line is often out the door.
“We use the best ingredients there are,” Hiller says. “It’s a lot of fresh milk, fresh eggs and real butter. That’s what makes it the best.”
The bakery holds sales before every major holiday. Stop in the weekend before Easter, March 19-20, to take advantage of the next one.
208 W. Water St., Shullsburg, Wis., (800) 533-9594, shullsburgcreamery.com
For 82 years, Shullsburg Creamery has been providing properly aged cheeses to customers in and around Lafayette County.
“Shullsburg Creamery got started in 1934, when a young man migrated from Denmark and founded a business bottling milk,” says Scott Stocker, CEO. “We still have bottles around today.”
In 1937, cheese became available at Shullsburg Creamery for the first time. Though the store competed directly with another startup only 12 miles away, it prospered into the 1970s, when Arthur Stocker, Scott’s father, took over the business.
Arthur was a mechanical engineer from Chicago and his skills were exactly what the creamery needed to continue operating. Since Arthur’s passing in 1990, Scott has been running the company along with capable help.
Tourists can see a state-of-the-art mid-20th century cheese factory in full operation, in addition to purchasing properly aged cheese.
“No cheese is sold before its time,” Scott says. “We have a 50,000-square-foot warehouse designed to properly store cheese until its flavor is developed. It’s about making it properly. Our cheese isn’t dictated by the clock. That’s why people are loyal to our brand.”
Hauberg Museum of Native American Life
1510 46th Ave., Rock Island, Ill., (309) 788-9536, blackhawkpark.org/museum
The Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island, Ill., is known for its beauty. But the John Hauberg Museum of Native American Life, located in a lodge on site, interprets a beautiful story of its own.
In 1934, the Civilian Conservation Corps built a lodge to tell the story of the Sauk and Meskwaki people, who lived in a village called Saukenuk, near what today is Rock Island.
This Native American village was one of the largest ever to exist in North America.
A full-fledged museum commemorating their lives opened to the public in 1939, with a collection donated primarily by Dr. John Hauberg, a philanthropist from Rock Island.
Since 1985, the museum has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Its collection includes full-size replicas of Sauk winter and summer houses, dioramas with life-size figures that depict activities of everyday life for the Sauk and Meskwaki between 1750 and 1830, and artifacts such as authentic trade goods, domestic items and jewelry.
Today, visitors to the Hauberg Museum can experience a 24-minute audio tour that leads them through treasures of the Sauk and Meskwaki Nations.
On the way out, don’t forget to take a look at the many books, postcards, posters, coffee cups and art prints available for sale.