Have you ever wondered what Eau Claire looked like in 1871? How about 1910?
A new family-friendly, self-guided tour series seeks to show tourists and locals alike just how many hidden gems – and little-known secrets – are hiding around the area. Eau Claire Tours – launched by UWEC grad and longtime local Roger Gostomski – currently features two tours, with three more slated for the future.
The tours, “Downtown Eau Claire Historical Walking Tour” and a forthcoming “Sports, Scenery, and Carson Park Driving Tour,” were inspired by the revitalization of downtown Eau Claire, Gostomski’s discovery of local landmarks, and similar tours he went on in Minneapolis.
DOWNTOWN IS A MAGNET THAT KEEPS BRINGING ME BACK.
EAU CLAIRE TOURS
These hour-long walking or driving tours give you a glimpse of noteworthy landmarks, famous people, stories from Eau Claire’s lumbering history, historical fun facts, and – an added bonus – discounts to local businesses, including the Chippewa Valley Museum, Houligan’s Steak & Seafood Pub, The District, The Chippewa Valley Logging Museum, Tangled Up in Hue, Ramone’s Ice Cream Parlor, and The Local Store.
“This is just a different way to present stuff, where I think people will be more engaged,” Gostomski said.
The audio-based tours use the VoiceMap app, which utilizes your phone’s GPS as you walk or drive. The project culminates almost two years of work – harkening back to before the onset of COVID-19 encouraged people to stay home and take lots of walks.
“To me, the downtown is a magnet that keeps bringing me back,” Gostomski said on the Eau Claire Tours website, which launched in early May, “and is the major reason I started these tours.”
Gostomski researched the history of Eau Claire between the 1700s and the present, compressing hundreds of hours of reading and writing into a short glimpse of Eau Claire’s history and culture. Though the tour company is based in Eau Claire, VoiceMap is based in South Africa, and Gostomski’s daughter, Nicole, lives in New Zealand, and has been helping with the project since its inception – making the tours a worldwide project.
Tours cost $6 each – and you can use the audio over and over – but you can only use the discounts once. (No cheating!)