Sunday, June 21, 2009

Climbing Platteville, Wisconsin's Mighty M





Just to the east of Platteville, Wisconsin is a rise of land off the prairie with a gigantic white "M" on it, facing to the west. You can see it for miles, in fact you can see it from Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois. After several trips past the 241 foot tall M over the years we decided to get closer and snap a few photos.

At the base of the whitewashed stone and concrete M completed by students in 1937 from the nearby University of Wisconsin-Platteville, School of Mines (mining is no longer offered at the school) is a picnic table and a set of stairs leading to the top of the hill. After climbing 266 named-stairs by financial donors you can see the midwestern prairie stretching for miles. If you take your time - and an oxygen tank - you can climb the stairs stopping at three lookout posts along the way. Consider the lookouts as basecamps. At the top of the climb is a large platform for scenery viewing including a freestanding set of binoculars (no charge to view through it.)

The best part of the journey up is the outstanding view of the rolling country side. To the south is Amish country where you can see horse and buggies and well-kept farms. To the west is Platteville. Ironically you cannot readily see the M once you are on top of the hill (see photo above.) The other best part of the journey up is the much easier descent. Know that.