Trempealeau Wisconsin Archeology Field Trip II-13,000 Years of Cultural History on the Upper Mississippi

  • July 23, 2019
  • 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
  • Trempleau, Wisconsin
  • 4


  • PLATO Member (with option to add guest) $67.00

    Member may bring one guest. Non-Member Guest Registration Fee $77. TO ADD YOUR GUEST: click on the “ADD GUEST” button at the bottom of the data collection form and enter the guest information, as indicated. [Please note: Member may bring more than one guest near the registration deadline if space is available. Check with the trip organizer to bring additional guests.]

Registration fee includes Badger Bus travel w/Wi-Fi, guided tour of sites and park admission (Lunch is NOT included; bring your own picnic lunch and beverages).

Registration Deadline July 18, 2019
Registration is closed



Join us as we visit three archeologically significant sites in Trempealeau Wisconsin.




The Trempealeau Interpretive Path (TRIP) ( traces the cultural history of this area back more than 13,000 years.  Our guides will be archaeologists Danielle Benden and Ernie Boszhardt.

Our first stop in Trempealeau will be at the Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library.  We will view authentic artifacts from the prehistoric Mississippian settlement and learn how people lived here in past millennia and review the archaeological excavations that have taken place across the village.  Ernie and Danielle will share a short presentation that outlines the community archaeology excavations that they have directed across the village since 2010 and that continue today.  Next, we will walk up the Little Bluff Mounds Trail to reveal how and when the Mississippian platform mounds were built.  Little Bluff served as the central spiritual center of this community of Mississippians who came here from their homeland of Cahokia. The bluff provides us a wonderful view of the village, the Mississippi River, and  lock and dam #6. 

Next our bus takes us a short distance to Perrot State Park where we will have our picnic lunches at the park shelter located on the shores of the Mississippi followed by a visit to the indoor Nature Center, housing the interpretive path’s largest exhibit.  Ernie and Danielle will interpret regional geology, plants and animals, and explain how these influenced the very early and then later settlers to Trempealeau.  The 13,000 year human history is seen here in exhibits, illustrations, a 3-dimensional map and reproductions and original prehistoric artwork.  Time permitting, our guides will demonstrate flint knapping which is the skill of making prehistoric tools and weapons.  Weather and time permitting, we may have an opportunity to observe "shovel testing", a method of testing whether or not an area contains artifacts. 

Accessibility: You must climb steps to board and exit the bus. Wear comfortable walking shoes.  The Trempealeau Library and Perrot State Park Nature Center are accessible on paved or unpaved lawn, open park and yard areas,   The walk to the top of Little Bluff is an easy to moderate 10 minute hike so it is relatively accessible and an easy approach. Walking to and across Little Bluff is uneven and roughly mowed grass.  We can arrange for a ride to the top if needed. 


Some Housekeeping Information

  • Please note you should bring your own picnic lunch and drink as well as snacks for the bus trip.  There is not time to visit a restaurant.

  • We plan to bring a cooler in which you may keep those portions of your lunch that require chilling; and you might also bring a small insulated lunch bag with ice-pack and include snacks and drinks for yourself  on the bus.  It is a long day and it can be warm in late July. 

  • Wear comfortable shoes for walking and standing.  Please dress for the weather; please check the forecast for La Crosse WI on July 23.  We are near the Mississippi River and it is summer, so you might bring insect repellent, a hat, comfortable shoes, a raincoat or umbrella and sun block.   The bus can be cool in some areas, so bring a warm outer garment. 

  • Restrooms: On the bus, at the library, in the Village Community Center, at Perrot State Park (vault toilets, near the shelter and Nature Center). So, during much of our trip we should be within one-hundred feet of a toilet.


Bear in mind that our boarding bus route is like Madison Metro or any other municipal bus service. Please arrive early at your boarding stop so you don’t miss the bus. When everyone is aboard and seated, we leave.

      Don’t be late. We can wait just 5 minutes at any one location. 

Estimated Trip Schedule:

Leave Madison 

Begin Boarding Oakwood West: 6:45 AM

Depart Oakwood West: 7:00 AM

Depart Capitol Lakes: 7:20 AM

Depart East Towne Sears: 7:45 AM

In Trempealeau 

Arrive Trempealeau Memorial Library: 10:00 AM

Walk on Little Bluff Mounds Trail from 11:30

Your Sack Lunch at Perrot State Park: 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Nature Center at Perrot State Park: 1:30 PM

Return to Madison (estimate) 

Depart for Madison: 4:00 PM

Arrive East Towne Sears: 6:30 PM

Arrive Capitol Lakes: 6:45 PM

Arrive Oakwood West: 7:00 PM



Accessibility Policy: On the Badger Bus, you must be able to climb steps to board and exit the bus. If you need assistance, we require that you bring a friend to give you a hand. 

Non-Member Policy: Members must register their guests. Each PLATO member is entitled to bring one non-member guest per bus trip. (Members may bring more than one guest near the registration deadline date if seats are available. Check with trip organizer).  Non-member guests pay an additional $15.00 registration fee. PLATO Membership is $60.00/year.

REGISTER online OR use this Mail-In Registration Form: Trempealeau July 23, 2019

For further information:  contact Trempealeau Trip Organizer Mike Roy at  and 608-443-9563.       


Our Guides:  

Danielle Benden and Robert “Ernie” Boszhardt, co-directors of a long-term archaeology project in Trempealeau, Wisconsin have for over ten years excavated, catalogued, and researched the unique 1,000-year-old early Middle Mississippian outpost at Trempealeau. Today, they continue this discovery through public archaeology and outreach, especially through the Trempealeau Interpretive Path (TRIP). They have collaborated on a variety of other archaeological projects in the Driftless Area, and offer tours to archaeological sites throughout Wisconsin.

Through Driftless Pathways, a small, family-owned, business founded by Danielle and Ernie in 2016, they share their expertise in Wisconsin archaeology and museum curation by offering unique archaeological site tours, curation training and professional development, and museum consulting services.
Before opening Driftless Pathways, Danielle served as a museum director and held the position of curator in the anthropology collections at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has chaired national curation committees and is the current chair of the Society for American Archaeology’s Committee on Museums,
 Collections, and Curation.  Ms. Benden hosts regional seminars and national webinars for audiences ranging from local, volunteer-run museums to professionals looking to gain new practical skills in an ever-changing field. She has directed archaeological field projects, designed and overseen upgrades to curation facilities, and enhancements of museum collections and published her work in national and regional outlets.

Ernie has practiced archaeology in the Driftless Area for decades, including nearly 30 years with the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center and, since 2010, as an independent researcher. He has published numerous articles and several books that touch upon nearly every aspect of archaeology in the region. He regularly speaks at local civic organizations and leads site tours.


Background Information

The Little Bluff Interpretive Path is shown at:

The Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center has the best website for an overview of the archaeology of the Upper Mississippi Valley:  Here, you can click on each cultural tradition to learn the basics for each period of time.

Some websites you might wish to visit before our trip are:

 Perrot SP;

Trempealeau County and Village:,_Wisconsin 

Trempealeau Hotel

Lock & Dam Number 6:

Cahokia or







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