Eau Claire, Wisconsin audio tour: Downtown Eau Claire Historical Walking Tour

Downtown Eau Claire Historical Walking Tour

Walking Tour

90 mins

About the Tour

If you like digging up the stories of old cities, then this walking tour of downtown Eau Claire is for you!

The city’s story starts as a small but important logging town, which later grew into a cultural powerhouse. In its early years, Eau Claire’s timber industry was huge, and the town had more sawmills than anywhere in the nation. This tour transports you back in time to those early years when Eau Claire’s first settlers were putting down roots and the town was developing alongside its lumber industry.

Along the way, you’ll hear about other interesting aspects of Eau Claire’s past, including:

• Its steamboat era
• The city’s electric trolleys
• World-famous violinist, Ole Bull’s connection to the city
• Early and as-yet unfamiliar traffic lights
• The oldest brick house in the city
• The flood of 1884

After covering Eau Claire’s early years, you’ll trace the city’s development through to the 1930s when it was the cultural and entertainment hub of Wisconsin. Not only will you learn all about Eau Claire’s fascinating history on this tour, you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy some discounts on food, drinks and shopping from some of the great vendors we’ve partnered with. Check out eauclairetours.com for more information about this and other tours before you join us in bringing the past to life.

Photo Credit:
The black and white photos are courtesy of the Chippewa Valley Museum

Tour Producer


Roger Gostomski

Hello, I am Roger Gostomski, founder of Eau Claire Tours. I have lived in Eau Claire for over 30 years and even graduated from the local college. I started these tours because over the last 10 years Eau Claire has turned itself into one of the top 10 mid-sized cities in the nation, with the accolades to prove it. We have a beautiful downtown park on the north end of the confluence of the two rivers that flow through Eau Clarie. To top it off, just a few years ago, we added the gorgeous Pablo Center performing arts venue on the south side of the confluence of the same rivers. There are some great pictures of both on our website at eauclairetours.com.

This revitalization was the impetus for me to start these tours. Though they were the reason I started the tours, I have found that I am more fascinated with Eau Claire's early history. It is this early history that I will be covering in what will be our Signature Tour, The Downtown Eau Claire Historical Walking Tour, and will be one of five tours when I am done.

I have put a tremendous amount of research into the tours over the last two years, (it was during Covid, so I had a lot of "free" time) and I belive that it will show when you take one of them.

Well, that's enough about me; now its time to get outside and enjoy a walk in our beautiful city while learning about our fasicinating past.

Thank you,

Roger Gostomski
Eau Claire Tours

Major Landmarks

  • First Sawmill

  • Eau Claire Auditorium

  • Eau Claire's Carnegie Library

  • Hotel Eau Claire

  • State Theater

  • Grand Opera House

  • The Schlegelmilch House

Directions to Starting Point

The starting point is the Trust Point Plaza sign at 7 S. Dewey Street and with the library temporarily relocated, there is plenty of free parking. You can park in the Library Parking Lot and on the Dewey Street bridge for up to 2 hours for free. You can also park in the Trust Point Building Parking Lot for free Monday through Friday after 5:00 pm and on weekends and can stay there until 10:00 pm.

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

During the tour you will be going right through our beautiful Phoenix Park, and if you have time you can visit the art museum in our gorgeous Pablo Center performing arts venue, which is on the tour route as well. Also, Eau Claire Tours has partnered with some great restaurants, shops, and an ice cream parlor along the route who will be giving Eau Claire Tour customers a nice discount. Go to the eauclairetours.com website to learn more about our vendor discounts and our tours.

Best time of day

Any time during the day.


There are really no precautions you need to take during the tour, though it is 1 1/2 hours long and a little over 2 miles, so there are times I recommend sitting for a while. Also, feel free to pause the tour anytime you like if you want to take a seat and take in Eau Clarie.


Great tour, very informative. I have lived in Eau Claire for 65 years and had knowledge of many of the tour stops. Nevertheless, I still learned many interesting facts, more than I anticipated. Thanks for a great tour!

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 8 months ago
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Downtown Eau Claire Historical Walking Tour