Travel back through time by visiting Dane County Park System properties with unique cultural features and rich histories. These special places help visitors learn how people lived in the past and create a strong sense of place. The Dane County Land & Water Resources Department, including the Parks Division, has a long-standing history of working to improve, enhance and protect the county’s natural, historical and cultural resources through land acquisition and land management techniques.
To learn more about the history of some of our park properties, visit individual park property pages and click on the “History” button at the bottom of the page, when available. In addition, information on a few highlights is listed below.
A Dane County Park property classified as an Historical/Cultural site consists of land that is specifically set aside for the preservation, restoration, or reconstruction of features significant to the history or cultural heritage of an area. These sites are typically on or eligible for state and national register of historic places listing. Sites include:
Many other Dane County Park properties include historical or cultural features. Some examples include:
Human beings have lived in the Madison area for nearly 12,000 years. Early Native American tribes left traces of their activities in the form of artifacts and the remains of campsites, villages, cemeteries, and earthworks. This includes earthen mounds, built over a two thousand year period for burial of the dead and other ceremonial purposes. Over 1,500 of these mounds in numerous clusters or groups were built near the shores of the Yahara chain of lakes. As many as 80% of these have been destroyed (Wisconsin First Nations). This short booklet (PDF) provides a brief history of effigy mounds in Wisconsin.
State law protects all such burial areas, including those on both public and private lands, against unauthorized disturbance. Visitors should avoid walking over or picnicking on mounds and other designated burial sites.