Exploring a Local Mystery: Why is Jelly Bean Hill Called That?

Rebecca Mennecke |

Every year, an Altoona sledding hill known as “Jelly Bean Hill” is voted as one of the Chippewa Valley’s top sledding spots. But who the heck decided that this hill – located behind Altoona Family Restaurant and facing Altoona High School – would be called this sweet name? I mean, it’s not like there’s jelly beans scattered in the snow (Unless we’re all missing something here ...)

According to local legend, the hill (which faces Altoona High School – not to be confused with McCann Hill, which faces Highway 12) got its name because of a humongous jelly bean-shaped impression, a few feet deep, that was ringed by brush and rock. “It was so big it could swallow a truck,” wrote one local on the “You Know You Are From Altoona, WI When ...” Facebook page. “If you sled right over the middle of it, you could go flying. It was both dangerous and exhilirating.” 

Schoolteachers at the high school have used the moniker to their advantage. “Many a time we ran up that hill in football practice believing there was a treasure of jelly beans awaiting our arrival at the top,” wrote one Altoona resident on Facebook, “only to find out we’d been beanboozled by the football coaches!” Iconic!

Others recall the name “Jelly Bean Hill” sticking because of little bumps and lumps that could send any kiddo’s tobaggan soaring through the air. And back in the day (we’re talking the ’60s and ’70s, to you young’ns out there), the hill was humongous. Now the much more modest hill still entertains sledders and tobaggan-ers alike. 

Are there jelly beans hidden somewhere on that hill for kiddos to find? Well, that’s for you and your families to find out for yourself this winter. 

(Photo via Visit Eau Claire)