If you haven’t traveled the Great River Road along the course of the Mississippi River, this may be the Spring and Summer to do so. The Great River Road is one of America’s best National Scenic Byways. It is designated as an All-American Road by the Federal Highway Administration.
Last year we loaded up our dogs and gear and headed east to connect with a portion of the Great River Road in east-central Minnesota. https://experiencemississippiriver.com/the-great-river-road-the-best-drive-in-america/
As we traveled south, we crossed the Mississippi into southwestern Wisconsin. We continued to follow the river through Illinois and Missouri, then backtracked up north through Iowa on the western banks of the river before heading home. (You can be sure we’ll share more stories from the Great River Road trip in future blogs.)
For our second overnight stop along the Great River Road, we discovered the quaint little town of Potosi, Wisconsin Northwest of Dubuque, Iowa. Although Kim lived in Wisconsin for many years, she had never found her way to Potosi, so it was a new adventure for both of us.
The reason we pulled into the town known as “the Catfish Capital of Wisconsin,” is because, as Harvest Host members, we were able to boondock overnight for free at the home of the Potosi Brewing Company right in downtown Potosi. https://potosiwisconsin.com/
If you aren’t familiar with Harvest Hosts, it is a membership program that invites self-contained RVers to have unique overnight stays at more than 2,500 farms, golf courses, breweries, wineries throughout North America, including Alaska and Canada.
The stays are usually limited to one night and there are limited spots that the hosts offer RVers to park for free.
The enjoyable way campers can reciprocate to their free camping hosts is by patronizing their gift shops, restaurants or tasting rooms on the property.
When we arrived, we checked in at the brewery to let them know we were there and were given instructions where to park for our overnight stay. We pretty much had the parking lot across Main Street from the brewery and the World’s Largest Can of Potosi Beer all to ourselves.
Up a hill behind us were lush lawns and expansive gardens and the large Holiday Gardens Event Center. There was plenty of room to let the girls stretch their four paws, but we kept them under control on their leashes.
Postosi is a town rich in mining and brewing history. Part of Wisconsin’s lead ore belt, no one is 100-percent sure how the town got its name. Although there are several explanations for the origin of the name Potosi, the correct one is unknown. Many mining towns are named Potosi, and the Wisconsin town probably copied the name from the fabled silver mines of Potosi, Bolivia.
As if that wasn’t enough for you, local road signs herald Potosi’s Main Street as “the longest Main Street in the world.” According to area sources, a newspaper article traces the claim to a 1950s item in “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.” Ripley’s qualified that statement and added that it is the longest Main Street without a cross street.
Current maps show a three-mile stretch, with numerous streets—including one named “Cross Street”—that drain into it and end, forming T-shaped intersections, but no street that continues across it. Weird.
Less weird and a tastier piece of the town’s history involves beer. Potosi Brewing Company billed itself as makers of “Good Old Potosi Beer” from 1852 up to 1972. The historic brewery became the fifth largest brewery in Wisconsin and distributed its suds coast to coast. But the brewery fell on hard times and by 1972, the company drained its beer tanks for the final time and shuttered the doors.
The handsome brick building complex stood dormant for nearly four decades. In 2008, according to their website, a brewery restoration project began to preserve the history and tradition of the company and with this rebirth the brewery came back to life on the original site.
Following a $7.5 million restoration, the Potosi Brewery Foundation, a non-profit organization, and sole owner of the Potosi Brewing Company continues to craft and distribute a variety of beers throughout the region.
Their website https://www.potosibrewery.com/ goes on to say Potosi Brewery’s mission is to channel all profits into its markets served to support historical and educational initiatives, and charitable causes.
Located within the walls of the historic beer maker is the National Brewery Museum. It’s a joint venture between the Potosi Foundation and the American Breweriana Association who have teamed up to create a world class national brewery museum showcasing an eclectic collection of beer bottles and cans, glasses, trays, coasters, advertising materials and various other breweriana collectibles.
We took a self-guided tour of the museum and gift shop, both of which are filled with eye candy for beer enthusiasts.
The building at 209 South Main Street is also home to the Great River Road Interpretative Center and Transportation Museum and the family friendly Potosi Brew Pub which serves a delicious variety of southern Wisconsin pub fare.
Before we tucked in for the night, we wandered into to the brew pub for a quick nosh and a few sips of beer.
If you come alive under the glow of a neon beer sign, the pub is the place for you. Not only is it a great venue for tasting a massive selection of Potosi’s craft beers, including their core brews like Czech Style Pilsner, Snake Hallow IPA and the traditional Good Old Potosi, but the collection of restored beer lights is very impressive.
Seasonal beers change, but recent offerings included Steamboat Lemon Shandy and Stingy Jack Pumpkin Ale. The brewery produces some limited edition barrel aged beers the likes of Border Shot Tower Espresso Stout (JK’s favorite), Icebreaker and Inner Sanctum.
On the expansive Pub food menu are plenty of Wisconsin’s favorite foods – Cheese!
Nothing says Wisconsin like Beer Battered cheese curds and a tasting flight of beers from the pub’s taps. Other appetizers include Beer Bread and Spinach Dip, Bacon Popcorn, and Barrels and Bottle Caps (bacon cheddar chive tots, batter fried jalapenos and chipotle ranch).
Main course sandwich menu items include pulled pork, a brisket melt, and the brat patty with sauerkraut on a pretzel bun. The kitchen also kicks it with the Potosi Mac and Cheese featuring the mouthwatering combination of Cavatappi pasta, grilled chicken, Hauber’s bacon, Wisconsin cheddar, toasted Parmesan breadcrumbs. They round out the menu with a large selection of burgers, chicken and fish dishes and several awesome salads.
Call or email them for the most current information of restaurant hours, brewery tour times and days, and additional Harvest Host overnight camping updates. Call: 608-763-4002 or email: email@example.com
If you’d rather spend the night or the weekend at a campground with full RV hookups, the Potosi area offers a couple options.
GRANT RIVER CAMPGROUND AND PARK
3990 Park Lane, Potosi, WI 53820
2022 Fee Dates: May 1- October 23
Cost: $14.00 and $20.00
Reservations Accepted: Yes
To make a reservation: 1-877-444-6777 or visit www.recreation.gov
RUSTIC BARN CAMPGROUND
3854 Dry Hollow Road, Kieler, WI 53812
Nightly Rates for Full Hook up Back-in Sites: 30-Amp Site – $42.00 – 50-Amp Site – $45.00
Nightly Rates for Full Hook-Up Pull Through Sites: 50-Amp Sites – $52.00
Retro Cabin Rentals are also available.