Wisconsin's Paradise Springs: Fishing Pond, Frog Wading Pool, Springhouse, and Trail in Nature Area

by DerdriuMarriner

Paradise Springs Nature Area is a spectacular paradise near Eagle in southeastern Wisconsin, an area renowned for its natural beauty.

Part of Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit, Paradise Springs is a Wisconsin Nature Area near Eagle, where Old World Wisconsin preserves 19th-century buildings and lifestyles.

Paradise Springs is aptly named, for its pristine landscape feels and looks like paradise.

Its photogenic springhouse hints at yesterday's grandeur, and its recreational allure includes a thriving fishing pond, an enchanting frog wading pool, and resplendent nature trails.

iconic springhouse at Paradise Springs: glimpses of yesteryear

springhouse at Paradise Springs
springhouse at Paradise Springs
by gracious permission of Mike Rice, Eagle Historical Society (http://eaglehistoricalsociety.org/?page_id=5)

Paradise Springs: Location


Paradise Springs Nature Area counts among the midwestern United States’ natural beauties. It is located in southeastern Wisconsin. It lies about 1-1/2 miles (2.414 kilometers) northeast of the village of Eagle. It may be accessed by state road connections to County Trunk Highway N.

It comprises part of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. The forest covers a total of 100 miles (160.934 kilometers) in the Badger State. It is divided into:

  • Lapham Peak;
  • Loew Lake;
  • Pike Lake;
  • The Northern Unit;
  • The Southern Unit.

The Southern Unit includes areas of cultural, natural, recreational and scientific interest. It offers boating, camping, hiking, and water fun through the Ottawa and Whitewater Lake Recreation Areas. It provides cultural insights through the nineteenth-century lifestyles recreated at Old World Wisconsin's model buildings and lands.

As part of the Southern Unit, Paradise Springs can be accessed daily, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. It functions without supervision and has no assigned staff. But access requires:

  • Payment of state park fees at the parking lot's paystation; or
  • Purchase of a state park sticker.


Water-driven turbine built at east side of dam by L.D. Nichols in 1900s to electrify the site (photo c. 1910).
Water-driven turbine built at east side of dam by L.D. Nichols in 1900s to electrify the site (photo c. 1910).

Paradise Springs: History

The beginnings of Paradise Springs epitomize the origins of Waukesha County. Abundant water, fertile land, and stunning views invite entrepreneurship and settlement. In Waukesha County, the source of the water is in the Ice Age-scoured hills. Water rises from aquifers within higher-lying ground and spills over the surface to form captivating, clear, cool creeks, mini-waterfalls, ponds, pools, and streams.

Documents and historical memoirs identify L.D. Nichols as Paradise Springs' owner after the 1880s and by 1900. Mr. Nichols may have had a circus background. He used his newly purchased land and water to develop two businesses:

  • Raising monkeys, peacocks, and pheasants;
  • Rearing brook trout.


view across Milwaukee River of First National Bank (left), built 1912-1914, merged with Wisconsin National Bank in 1919 under Louis J. Petit's financially successful presidency to form First Wisconsin National Bank
view from terrace of Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery
view from terrace of Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery
Louis J. Petit

L.J. Petit Salt Company owner and Wisconsin National Bank president Louis J. Petit (June 18, 1856-December 2, 1932) appreciated the natural beauty, pure water, and teeming wildlife at Paradise Springs. He became owner in 1927. He introduced:

  • Entrance pillars built of fieldstone and topped by stone eagles;
  • A horse track;
  • Nine-holf golf course;
  • Shuffle board and tennis courts;
  • The springhouse;
  • The wading pool.


Pabst Building (1891-1981), site of cabin of city's first European settler Henry Vieau; also site of cabin/trading post, built in 1820 by city founder Solomon Juneau (August 9, 1793–November 14, 1856)
Wisconsin's prominent Pabst family numbered among owners of Paradise Springs.
Wisconsin's prominent Pabst family numbered among owners of Paradise Springs.
  • With Louis' death, ownership passed to:
  • Pabst Brewing Company executive August "Auggie" Uihlein Pabst (July 30, 1902-November 10, 1934), by inheritance;
  • Frank Fulton, by purchase;
  • Gordon David Mertens (April 30,1902-November 16, 1992), by purchase.


Minnehaha Springs, Paradise Springs' other name, honors heroine of "Song of Hiawatha(1855) by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Feb 27, 1807-March 24, 1882)
"Minnehaha feeding birds", c1880 oil on canvas by Frances Anne Hopkins (2/2/1838-3/5/1919)~Minnesota Historical Society
"Minnehaha feeding birds", c1880 oil on canvas by Frances Anne Hopkins (2/2/1838-3/5/1919)~Minnesota Historical Society


An area of great natural beauty became one of great lucrative beauty. Paradise Springs came to be known as a:

  • First-rate bottling plant of “Eagle Rock Springs Water", "Lullaby Baby Drinking Water”, "Minnehaha Water", and “Natural Spring Water”;
  • Luxury spa;
  • Paradise Springs Resort Hotel.

Constructed in 1937 or 1940 and closed in 1948, the two-story hotel included:

  • Cocktail bar;
  • Elegant dining room;
  • Roof garden and sundeck;
  • Spacious bedrooms, each with “private, steam-heated, tiled baths” (Andrews, page 204);
  • Thick exterior walls built of dolomite from the Lannon Springs Quarry.


Dolomite for Paradise Springs Resort Hotel's thick walls was quarried here: Menomonee Park, known locally as Lannon Quarry, dolomite quarry converted to 16- acre (6.5-ha) lake amid 394 acres (158 hectares) of rolling fields, maple woods, and wetland
Menomonee Park, formerly Lannon Springs Quarry
Menomonee Park, formerly Lannon Springs Quarry


Guests traveled from large cities -- Chicago, Milwaukee, and New York City -- to:

  • Stay in the hotel;
  • Savor the bottling plant’s healthy drinks;
  • Re-energize in the spa’s healing waters;
  • Play shuffle board and tennis;
  • Hoseback-ride;
  • Hike.

Economic, geographical, political and social factors contributed to the demise of the bottling plant and the resort. Paradise Springs fell more and more to the wayside as the geographical focus of post-Depression and post-World War II life moved from the countryside to the big cities. According to unsubstantiated lore, Lake Forest’s gangsters also may have begun meeting at the exclusive, secluded resort whose more law-abiding patrons may have looked to other locations for recreation and relaxation.

Business ceased. The bottling plant closed its doors in the 1960s. Buildings crumbled. Roofs fell in. Trees grew old shading cool waters and fertile lawns. Wild flowers and grasses took the lead over cultivated counterparts.

To nineteenth-century settlers, Paradise Springs appeared a haven of wild beauty. It became a part of the built environment that always accompanies the crossing of new frontiers. In the later twentieth century, it evolved into more natural states.

Nature’s cycle heads towards completion at Paradise Springs.


storm clouds over Kettle Moraine Low Prairie (SNA No. 88), a few miles north-northwest of Paradise Springs
storm clouds over Kettle Moraine Low Prairie (SNA No. 88), a few miles north-northwest of Paradise Springs

Paradise Springs: Attractions

Enlightenment and entertainment abound at Paradise Springs. Enlightenment ensues from meditation and observation. Entertainment includes:

  • Catch-and-release fishing;
  • Frog-spotting;
  • Picnicking;
  • Strolling.

Paradise Springs generally draws visitors in smaller-sized groups and over more spaced intervals than other Wisconsin state-designated attractions. It is ideal for visitors who set their own leisurely unimpeded pace along trails, signs, and sights. But it also makes allowances – without fear of traffic jams -- for the energetic spontaneity of children.

The visit begins with a right turn eastwards from the parking lot. Pedestrian, stroller and wheelchair traffic follow a paved, slightly inclining path towards a looped interpretive trail. On the right side, southwards, is a shelter with picnic benches and tables. A slab in the ground preserves the remains of the former resort’s shuttle board and tennis courts. It takes just minutes to amble from there to access drinking water and no-fuss restrooms.

Unstructured fun in the outdoors dominates the trail’s incoming, southern segment. The section offers glimpses of the natural succession in an area transitioning through:

  • Wilderness;
  • Development;
  • Semi non-development.
  • Birds and butterflies will number amongst the most common wildlife sightings.

Culture, history and nature can be appreciated along the trail’s outgoing, northern segment. In terms of buildings, the spring house gives an idea of the unique beauty of Paradise Springs as:

  • Busy bottling plant;
  • Luxury spa;
  • Resort hotel.

The spring house’s fieldstone walls have an inherent grandeur despite a roof without its octagonal copper dome and windows without their glass. They still protect the area’s spring, whose flow reaches an hourly rate of 30,000 gallons and whose temperature remains at 47 °Fahrenheit (8.33° Celsius).

On the other side of the trout pond, along its western rim, a turbine can be seen. It functions as a reminder of the L.D. Nichols family presence at Paradise Springs. It generated the power which made the Nichols residence the first area home to convert from kerosene to electric lighting. Electricity is a convenience which the Nichols family easily afforded what with operating successful fishing and menagerie businesses.

The trout pond can be accessed by a fishing pier. But the trout cannot be caught with live bait. Likewise, the trout cannot be removed and indeed must be returned to the water.

West of the pond and the turbine the following attractions beckon:

  • Frog wading pool;
  • Minnehaha Spring;
  • Paradise Creek.

The water in the pool is so clean and clear that froggy activities are a delight to hear and observe. Equally delightful is the sight of butterflies, damselflies, and dragonflies during clement weather and of songbirds year-round.

The tour of human-made and natural features is complete. The trail leads to the parking lot. Visitors leave by the abbreviated stretch of road which serves as entrance to and exit from Paradise Springs. On its incoming, southern flank, the road skims where once stood the resort’s horse track.

Paradise Springs: Area Activities

Nearby attractions include:

  • Gotten Cabin;
  • Ice Age Trail sections;
  • Town of Eagle;
  • Village with outdoor museum;
  • Milwaukee.

Gotten Cabin is closest. The cabin lies just across the road from the Paradise Spring's parking lot.

The cabin honors its builder. Henry L. Gotten is remembered as one of Waukesha County's settlers from the mid-nineteenth century. He left Prussia to buy and cultivate land outside Eagle. He sheltered his wife and two children in a most aesthetically minimalist structure.

Even a cursory glance conveys the impression of a residence built to last. It is a clean, humbly-sized rectangle with same-colored door and shuttered windows. Its mortar-and-timber-styled construction serves as an impressive example of the unadorned beauty of white oak logs, joined at the corners and squared off.

The cabin encourages further forays into natural beauty and structural impressiveness. Natural beauty can be found in southeast Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail. The trail intersects County Trunk Highway N about 1/2 mile (0.804672 kilometers) to the north of Gotten Cabin and Paradise Springs.

The trail attracts visitors who enjoy exercise, nature, and science. Visitors can be seen ambling, jogging, and running along the marked trail. Earthly and heavenly colors dominate, with clean blues of skies and water and fertile browns and greens of ground and vegetation. The environment is a crowd-pleaser, with ample vegetation, fertile soils, plenteous water, and rolling terrain. Birds, butterflies, frogs, and turtles join with diverse mammals in appreciating the Ice Age-sculpted (100,000 B.C.-10,000 B.C.) landscape.

landscape near Eagleville, Waukesha County, southeastern Wisconsin
Mitten Farm, dating from ca. 1848, in autumn with stand of birch trees
Mitten Farm, dating from ca. 1848, in autumn with stand of birch trees


Nature and structure attract visitors to Eagle and Old World Wisconsin. Eagle is the name of a town with a same-named village and the unincorporated community of Eagleville. Its origins track back 175+ years.

The town’s name changed from Eagle Prairie (Surveyors John Coats, Mr. Garton, and Thomas Sugden saw a bald eagle in 1836) to:

  • Eagleville settlement;
  • Pittman Plat;
  • Eagle Center railroad stop, 1850;
  • Diamond City, 1867.


Five views of Eagle Diamond (enlarged about 3 diameters):
1899 illustration by George Frederick Kunz (Sept 29, 1856–June 29, 1932) of Tiffany and Company
1899 illustration by George Frederick Kunz (Sept 29, 1856–June 29, 1932) of Tiffany and Company

A farmer found a 15.3-carat, yellowish glacial diamond during a well-digging. The diamond passed to:

  • His wife;
  • A Milwaukee jeweler ($1.00);
  • Tiffany’s ($850.00);
  • J.P. Morgan;
  • The American Museum of Natural History (donation);
  • Thieves, 1965-.


African stones, usually with 8 faces, mostly resemble octahedrons (upper left) whereas Eagle Diamond, with 12 faces, was a dodecahedron (upper right).
Common forms of diamonds
Common forms of diamonds
Clausing Barn: octagonal (8-sided) barn built c1897 by Ernest Clausing
Clausing Barn: octagonal (8-sided) barn built c1897 by Ernest Clausing


The name reverted to Eagle, which is known for:

Eagle village boasts history. Since 1976, it has a 576-acre (2.33099-square kilometer) outdoor museum. Old World Wisconsin includes the Clausing Barn, with dining, gift, meeting, and rest rooms. It preserves 65 nineteenth-century buildings.

The State Historical Society arranged to relocate buildings from throughout Wisconsin. For example, Anton Sisel’s shoe shop came from Algoma in Kewaunee County. Structures include:

  • Businesses (blacksmith and wagon shops, general store);
  • Cemeteries;
  • Chapel;
  • Churches (St. Peter’s, United Brethren);
  • Farms (Danish, Finnish, German, Norwegian) and residences, with heirloom gardens and historic animals;
  • Inn;
  • Raspberry School;
  • Town hall.

Old World Wisconsin can be visited, May-October. It has a vintage baseball team. It hosts:

  • Day camps;
  • Field trips;
  • Holiday activities;
  • Workshops.


built in 1896 by Norwegian immigrants on Raspberry Bay, Bayfield County, northwestern Wisconsin
Raspberry School, Old World Wisconsin
Raspberry School, Old World Wisconsin

Conclusion: Milwaukee and Paradise Springs


Only about 37 miles (59.5 km) east of Paradise Springs is Milwaukee, Wisconsin's largest city. Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is affectionately known as Brew Town and Cream City. Renowned for superb cultural and culinary offerings, Milwaukee also has secured world fame for its Art Museum, resplendently housed in the bustling, historic downtown, on the only one of the five Great Lakes of North America located entirely within the United States.

The museum traces its origins to the Milwaukee Art Association, founded in 1888 by a committed group of businessmen and German panorama artists. One of the panoramacists was Otto Von Ernst (1853-1925), husband of Elizabeth Pabst (June 2, 1869-June 16, 1891), who was the daughter of Frederick Pabst (March 28, 1836–January 1, 1904). Known as "the Captain" from his early career commanding a steamship on Lake Michigan, Frederick ushered in the golden decades of Beer Town's prize-winning Pabst Brewing Company, renamed from Best, in recognition of his accomplishments.

Milwaukee Art Museum comprises three buildings which include the War Memorial Center (1957), designed by premier Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen (August 20, 1910–September 1, 1961), as well as the Quadracci Pavilion (2001), designed by Santiago Calatrava Valls (born 28 July 1951), esteemed as one of the elite designers of the world. Calatrava's Pavilion was featured notably in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (2011), the third installment in the blockbuster Transformers science fiction action film series.

With its international flavor in a distinctly Midwestern setting, Milwaukee is a dream destination for tourists and a beloved home for residents, who historically have appreciated and enhanced the natural beauty of surrounding and nearby landscapes such as Paradise Springs.


phenomenal, unprecedented Burke brise soleil, movable winglike screen of 72 steel fins rests atop glass-enclosed, vaulted reception hall, opens and closes in accordance with Museum's hours and with wind speeding off Lake Michigan
Quadracci Pavilion
Quadracci Pavilion



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


My special thanks especially to Mike Rice, Eagle Historical Society, who graciously permits me to display the perfect image of Paradise Springs' iconic springhouse. The image graces the gallery of the Society's website at:  eaglehistoricalsociety.org/?page_id=5


Great spangled fritillary is one of many butterfly species to be seen savoring Paradise Springs countryside.
Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) on Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) on Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Sources Consulted

Andrews, Candice Gaukel. Beyond the Trees: Stories of Wisconsin's Forests. Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2011.

AuntieNae. "A Visit to Paradise Springs EarthCache (hidden 7/5/2007)." Geocaching: Hide and Seek A Geocache . Groundspeak, Inc., 2000-2012.

  • Available at: http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=4753d507-00f1-4373-943e-71395d418f19

HistoryLady1. “Shoemaking in Slovan”. Kewaunee County History, Monday, April 23, 2012.

  • Available at: http://kewauneecountyhistory.blogspot.com/ 2012/04/shoemaking-in-slovan.html

Hobbs, William Herbert. "Emigrant Diamonds in America." Appleton's Popular Science Monthly, Vol. LVI (November, 1899, to April, 1900): 73-83. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1900.

  • Available via Internet Archive at: http://archive.org/details/popularsciencemo561900newy

Imberg, Kari. "Paradise in Wisconsin." Royal Purple News: Lifestyle, April 20, 2011.

  • Available at: http://royalpurplenews.com/?p=2278

K., Christine Marie. "Paradise Springs Nature Area". A Fresh Look, July 28, 2012. WordPress.com.

  • Available at: http://chrisimarie.wordpress.com/ 2012/ 07/ 28/paradise-springs-nature-area/

“Louis J. Petit Dies in Milwaukee; Salt Manufacturer, Banker, Mining Pioneer and  Sportsman Was 76”. The New York Times: Art Amusements Radio section, p. 20. December 3, 1932.

  • Available at: http://select.nytimes.com/ gst/ abstract.html res=FA0E10FF345516738DDDAA0894DA415B828FF1D3

Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission. Permanent Historic Designation Study Report: First National Bank/First Wisconsin National Bank Building 733-743 N. Water Street. June 2007.

  • Available at: http://www.city.milwaukee.gov/ ImageLibrary/ Groups/ cityHPC/ DesignatedReports/ vticnf/ FirstNational.pdf

Old World Wisconsin. Wisconsin Historical Society, 2008-2012.

  • Available at: http://oldworldwisconsin.wisconsinhistory.org/

Potawatomi Area Council BSA. Historic Trails Guide. Waukesha WI: Potawatomi Area Council Boy Scouts of America, n.d.

  • Available at: http://www.pacbsa.org/openrosters/DocDownload.aspx?orgkey=2402&id=81232

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Parks and Recreation. Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit: Paradise Springs Self-Guiding Nature Trail. PUB-PR-228 2010.

  • Available at:  http://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/pubs/pr/PR0228.pdf



brook trout, elusive and challenging yet popularly sought by anglers aplenty in Paradise Springs despite no live bait and catch-and-release restrictions
brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) swims in native stream
brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) swims in native stream
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

reating Old World Wisconsin: The Struggle to Build an Outdoor History Museum of Ethnic Architecture by John D. Krugler

With its charming heirloom gardens, historic livestock breeds, and faithfully recreated farmsteads and villages that span nearly 600 acres, Old World Wisconsin is the largest outdoor museum of rural life in the United States.
Wisconsin-themed books

Wisconsin Watercolor Map: black t-shirt

Wisconsin Watercolor Map
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Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 10/03/2014, DerdriuMarriner
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


DerdriuMarriner on 10/05/2013

MikeRobbers, The name does indeed fit! In addition to all the paradisiacal wonders, it is always a treat to know that visitors will not be tripping over each other or staff. It's wonderful to know that you can enjoy a picnic lunch with family and friends before and/or after a visit that is as paced as you want it. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

MikeRobbers on 10/05/2013

Paradise springs indeed! Such a fitting name :) Another visually beautiful article Derdriu. Thanks!

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