Footsteps of La Crosse Website Launch

Posted by Jenny on May 6, 2024

(written by Jenny DeRocher, Archives Staff)

Footsteps of La Crosse is a project that makes historic and architectural walking tours accessible for folks looking to learn more about the history of La Crosse’s built environment and the people who shaped it. The original website for Footsteps was launched in 2008, funded largely by a PBS Wisconsin grant and the La Crosse Public Library Archives Department. Twice a year since 2008, LPL Archives staff have guided some of these tours as part of their regular programming, as well as by request.

In May 2024, a new Footsteps of La Crosse website was launched with new resources available for folks looking to learn more about our local history. Below is a how-to guide for using the new website and exploring these resources.

Build Your Own Tour Function

Perhaps the most exciting new feature available with this 2024 website update is the ability to Build Your Own Tour. All of the individual stops across all of the original thirteen Footsteps tours are now searchable using keywords that the user can choose on their own, or from a drop down list.

How to Build Your Own Tour (BYOT)

Step 1

Decide on a person, time period, or topic that you want to focus you tour around. You can choose as many search terms as you like, and make your tour as short or as long as you would like.

Example search terms:

    • Prairie Style
    • Percy Dwight Bentley
    • Railroad
    • Barbershop
    • School
    • Hackner Company
    • Goosetown

In the Search Form, you can choose these terms on your own, or you may select terms based on the pre-selected tags that can be selected in the drop-down menu labeled "Search Term."


You can use your own search term on the "Search Text" box, or you can choose from the "Search Term" drop down of pre-selected tags that have been attached to individual stops.

Click the brown "Search" button once you have a search term selected.

Step 2

Scroll through the Search Results. You can select locations you would like to be featured on your tour using the green "+" (plus sign) button on the righthand side of the search results.

You can reorder your tour as you go, or at the end using the arrow button to slide each tour location into the correct order.

If you decide you want to remove a location from your tour, press the brown "-" (minus sign) button. You can enter new search terms as you go as many times as you like to fully optimize your tour.

Note: If you go to another page on this website, exit out of this browser tab/window, or even exit out of the browser entirely, your customized tour will be saved until you manually clear it, or until you clear the cache from your browser history. This is so that when you exit out of the website, or close the tab on your device to travel to the neighborhood you are exploring, you can open the website up and still have your tour ready to go.

Step 3

When you are happy with your customized tour, click the brown "Start Tour" button at the bottom of your selected tour locations.

From there, you can use the brown "Show Map" button to view all the locations on Google Maps.

You can also listen to the audio version of any stop that has uploaded audio (we are working on expanding this!).

If you want to go back and edit the tour again, click the brown "Show Search" button to go back to the screen where you selected stops from the search results. It will not refresh the work you've already done to build your tour.

Finish Up

As you create your tour, consider each stop’s location as well as your mode of transportation. Below are a few questions and concerns we ask ourselves while designing tours, and encourage you to as well!

    • Do you have stops more than a mile from one another? 
    • Do you have to cross major intersections? 
    • If you plan to bike, please be sure you are creating a route that is safe and friendly for bikes. 
    • Perhaps, depending on your stops and their locations, it makes sense to split your planned route into more than one tour.

For any questions you have about creating a route, contact LPL Archives staff at or (608) 789-7136.

13 Self-Guided Footsteps Tours

Under the "Footsteps Tours” tab in the main menu, you will find a list of local history & architecture tours written and researched by Eric J. Wheeler and Dr. Les Crocker between 2008-2015. These tours are managed by LPL Archives staff, who have edited and updated the tours over time. Some Footsteps tours are appropriate to walk depending on your situation, but others are more appropriate to drive or bike. Explore the website and decide what works best for you!

Accessibility Guide

If you are disabled and ever have questions on how to use this website or join one of our in-person walking tours, you can go here to find information. On this webpage, we have information about route distances, wheelchair accessibility, as well as accommodation services our staff provide for folks with blindness, vision impairments, deafness, hearing impairments.

Architecture Toolkit

This webpage is one location where folks can learn more about local architecture history. Blogs and videos by Dr. Les Crocker are all compiled here, as well as a list of books that are available at the La Crosse Public Library for check out. Individual topics include deep dives into things like the history of screened windows, outhouses, cupolas, and cement blocks. But there are also more general resources around major architecture movements seen in La Crosse. Visit this webpage to explore resources created by our staff with local architecture historians.

Ghost Tours & Dark La Crosse Tours

For information on the upcoming season of Ghost Tours and Dark La Crosse tours, check out this new webpage for all event and ticket information.


Over the course of 2024-2025, our staff plan to compile more local architectural history resources on this website as well as new tours and stops, some featuring our Dark La Crosse Stories and others featuring Hear, Hear stories. Stay tuned!