Rusk County is a great place to discover the fascinating history of the area. Take some time to explore these museums and historic displays. Learn about the loggers, railroad workers, military veterans, and settlers who shaped the communities and landscape you see today.
New in 2016 was the opening of Ed’s Machine Shed – Wisconsin’s Plow Museum, which is part of the Rusk County Historical Museum at the Fairgrounds in Ladysmith.
Located in the old Bruce News Letter building. Displays include family history files, old census files, many old books and papers, and artifacts donated and borrowed from local families. Open every Wednesday and when the flag is out.
Ed’s Machine Shed – Wisconsin’s Plow Museum
The newest addition to the many historical attractions in Ladysmith is Ed’s Machine Shed – Wisconsin’s Plow Museum. Located at the Rusk County Historical Museum off of Highway 8 at the Fairgrounds in Ladysmith – Ed’s Machine Shed features over 40 restored vintage plows and tractors. Some pieces in the collection date over 100 years. It is believed to be the largest assembled collection of antique plows anywhere.
Ladysmith resident Ed Tomasovich, who collected and donated to the Rusk County Historical Society his unique farm equipment, much of which is more than 100 years old, will give tours of the plows to anyone interested.
According to Ed, it took him 20 years to gather and restore this collection. He carefully disassembled, hand sanded, painted and reassembled piece by piece each one. The collection includes around 40 vintage plows and tractors such as John Deere, McCormick-Deering, Oliver, La Crosse and International Harvester.
All expositions are in working order.
You can visit the Plow Museum Memorial Day-Labor Day: Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 to 4:00. Please call Ed at 715-532-5777 ahead of time to arrange a tour. Want to know more about Ed and his plows – read this article. http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/51826812.html
Ed Tomasavich – the “Ed” of Ed’s Machine Shed, with his plow collection that comprises Wisconsin’s Plow Museum in Ladysmith
Railroad Displays-Ladysmith Area
Many of the communities in Rusk County were established during the heyday of the timber industry, when the woodlands were filled with logging camps and rivers and railroads were the primary means of transport. Timber was harvested and floated on the rivers to mills, or hauled by railroads. Railroads were also responsible for shipping out finished lumber, as well as bringing business people and settlers to the area. Railroads were a very important part of life in Rusk County and continued to grow after logging and still have a presence today. Railroads evolved with advances in technology, from steam to diesel, from passenger service to only freight. All of the communities in the county still have railroad tracks running through them. Travel around Ladysmith and you can see a number of railroad displays that show the changes in the railroad industry. These railroad displays are for external viewing only.
- Old Smoky: Steam Engine – Westgate Plaza, Lake Ave./Hwy. 8.
- Soo Line Diesel 550R Engine, Post Office Express Car 552, Passenger Baggage Car 358, First Class Coach 998, Soo line Caboose: Currently being refurbished inside and out.
- Box car and caboose: Recently remodeled box car and caboose are open to the public during the summer season or by request at the Rusk County Visitors Center on Hwy. 27, 2 blocks south of Hwy. 8.
The Rusk County Historical Society operates the Rusk County Historical Museum, located in Ladysmith off of Highway 8 – at the Rusk County Fairgrounds. The museum has a wide variety of displays include logging history, antique farm machinery, rail history, WWI and II artifacts, antiques, and medical exhibits. The exhibits are displayed in multiple buildings which include a replica of the Gates County Courthouse, Little Red Schoolhouse, and Log Cabin – along with the Henry Golat building which serves a welcome center and repository for research documents. New in 2016 was the opening of Ed’s Machine Shed – Wisconsin’s Plow Museum which features over 40 vintage restored plows and tractors. The museum is primarily open Memorial Day-Labor Day and by appointment.
Rusk County Visitors Center
Find local, regional, and statewide traveler information at the Rusk County Visitors Center in Ladysmith. Home to a railroad display featuring a diesel locomotive and caboose, inside you will find a gift shop with telegraphs, photos, art, maps, and much more.
The center rents snowshoes in the winter, and also has GPS units, binoculars, and birding books for use throughout the year.
The Visitors Center is open from 9-4 Monday-Friday, and Saturdays from 8:30-1 year-round, with expanded hours in the summer and during special events.