Wisconsin’s ‘Original’ Capital Is Now A Vacant Ghost Town
Did you know that the capital of Wisconsin would have been a little closer to Illinois if history had gone slightly different?
The town of Belmont, Wisconsin is, I think officially, a sleepy hamlet. Tucked in the southwest corner of the state, above Galena, maybe 30 miles north of the border, Belmont is officially home to 986 residents as of the 2010 census.
Wisconsin spent 12 years as a territory of the United States before it became a state in 1836. During that time the town of Belmont was designated as the capital of the territory. Belmont was located next to a large mine, so it made sense to make it the central location for the territory.
They built a "Capital House" where meetings were intended to be held.
Everything has been preserved from this former political building and looks a little spooky if you linger a bit too long.
Belmont only served as the territory's capital for 46 days. The buildings were never used for their intended purpose.
Politics would eventually rear its ugly head when a lawmaker named James Doty lobbied hard to get the Capital moved to its current location, Madison. It just so happened that Mr. Doty happened to also own a fair amount of land in the Madison area.
The political center, people, and most importantly money were all moved to Madison by 1836 and that's why Madison looks like this right now:
And Belmont is a city of 1 stop sign and looks like this.
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