Herman Rusch (1895–1995) was a retired farmer at the time he opened a roadside museum in Cochrane, Wisconsin. Concerned that the grounds of the museum were barren, Rusch built his first concrete and stone planter circa 1958. That effort led to two new engrossing interests: the creation of huge sculptures and related flower beds. Rusch said that he “just kept on building. You don’t ever know where it will end up when you start.” Without any formal art training, he became a consummate craftsman and artist, searching local quarries for appropriate stone, and developing exceptional masonry skills.
By age 89, Rusch had created nearly 40 sculptures. These included a “Rocket to the Stars,” a Hindu temple, dinosaurs, even a miniature mountain. Sometimes Rusch added color to the freshly mixed concrete; sometimes he painted the surfaces. He embellished the sculptures with seashells, bits of broken bottles, and shards of crockery and mirrors. His final piece was among his most impressive: a 13-1/2-foot watchtower, constructed with rocks he collected from a quarry high in the nearby bluffs and pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Also included at this site are additional sculptures by Halvor Landsverk. In the museum’s interior, a Depression-era collection of miniature concrete stone buildings created by self-taught artist Fred Schlosstein is on display. And additional sculptures were added to the refurbished prairie area when the John and Bertha Mehringer "Fountain City Rock Garden" was moved from its river bluff hillside home to the Prairie Moon grounds.
52727 Prairie Moon Road
Cochrane, WI 54622
(608) 687-8250 or (608) 248-2987