This is the oldest county in the tri-state area, having been established in 1818.

It was named after William Harris Crawford, who was Secretary of the Treasury in President Monroe’s cabinet at the time.

The Prairie du Chien era goes much farther back, however, as explorers Marquette and Jolliet paddled down the Wisconsin River and into the Prairie du Chien area in 1673. They were the first Europeans to enter the upper Mississippi River.

The county seat, it boasts nearly 6,000 residents. The other town of interest within the circulation area is one of the state’s biggest apple producers, Gays Mills.

Prairie du Chien

Check this out: Villa Louis Estate. This 19th-century Victorian estate, located on Feriole Island, is a National Historic Landmark. During the winter (mid-November-April), guided tours are available by pre- arranged appointment. For more information, call 608-326-2721.

Places to stay: Duck Inn Lodge, 38299 Stuckey Road, 608-326-5118; River District Hotel, 130 S. Main St., 608-520-0058.

Don’t miss this: Prairie Dog Blues Festival, Friday-Saturday, July 26-27. It boasts a variety of blues styles. For more information, go to www.prairiedogblues.com.

When you’re hungry: China Cafe, 1224 S Marquette Road, 608-326-7779; Huckleberry’s Restaurant, 1906 S. Marquette Road, 608-326-5488; Muddy Waters Pizza Pub, 207 W. Blackhawk Ave., 608-380-1283; Jones’ Black Angus LLC, 37640 U.S. 18, 608-326-2222.

A night on the town? Eddie’s Irish Pub, 800 S. Marquette Road, 608-326-6625; Acapulco Bar-Grill, 37885 Selch Ave., 608-326-0755.

Farmers market: Prairie Street Farmers Market. 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturdays, May-October, Lucky Park on W. Blackhawk Avenue; Blackhawk Junction Farmers Market, 7-11 a.m. Saturdays, June-mid October, 700 E. Blackhawk Ave. 608-326-2491.

More on Prairie du Chien: prairieduchien.org

Gays Mills

Check this out: Apple orchards. Regardless of the time of the year (although fall is best), this is a highlight of the Gays Mills area. Among them are: Fleming Orchard, Kickapoo Orchard, Sunrise Orchards and West Ridge Orchard.

Places to stay: Robb Park And Campground, 45972 Highway S, Gays Mills, 608-735-4341; Kickapoo Stump Dodger Campground, 388 Railroad St., 608-735-4929.

Don’t miss this: Gays Mills annual Spring Festival, May 12. You can catch the final day of this weekend-long celebration. Find more info at 608-735-4341.

When you’re hungry: J&J on Main, 312 Main St., Gays Mills, 608-735-4488; Saint Francis Hermitage, 14841 Turfan Road, 608-735-4015.

More on Gays Mills: gaysmills.org

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