How Do You Say Dubuque?

Dubuque is at the junction of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Geographically, it is part of the Driftless Area, a portion of North America that escaped all three phases of the Wisconsin Glaciation. Named after Julien Dubuque, the first settler from Quebec, the city is pronounced De-buke. No matter how you pronounce it, follow us across the Mississippi to Dubuque, Iowa for a day of great variety! Sweet wines along the river, a funicular ride, and a relaxing stroll through the arboretum for fall colors.


We begin our day with lunch and wine tasting at Stone Cliff Winery in the historic Star Brewery building. Dubuque Star was established by Joseph Rhomberg in 1898 and brewed beer of the same name. See the Star in the patio bricks. Before Prohibition, there were 138 breweries in the state, but afterwards Dubuque Star was the only small brewery left in the state.

What started out as a traditional farm in Durango Iowa evolved into raising grapes and making wine at Stone Cliff Winery .  The wines are much sweeter than our California palates are used too!! If you enjoy sweet wines, they do a fine job with theirs. The fruit flavors are very distinct in each one. Loved the bottle of this port style raspberry wine! Jazzberry 🙂

A Shot Tower! What? One of the last remaining shot towers in the United States. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To make the shot, molten lead was poured through a grate at the top of the tower. The droplets that fell from the grate were of relatively uniform size, and the fall provided enough time for the liquid-metal droplet to form into a sphere before landing in the water below. The water cooled the lead to its solid state, retaining the spherical shape. Pretty cool!


The first bridge across the Mississippi in Dubuque, Iowa.


Next stop, the Fenelon Place Elevator! The elevator is a 3 ft narrow gauge funicular railway. Also known as the Fourth Street Elevator, it is claimed to be the shortest and steepest railroad in the world! 🙂  TIP ~ It’s much easier to find the elevator from the base at 4th and Bluff Street than from the top in the residential neighborhood!


Turnstile to access the funicular and a panoramic view of Dubuque. In 1882 the Fourth Street Elevator was constructed for Julius K. Graves, a local banker and former state senator, who was faced with a daily round trip of sixty minutes to reach his hilltop home from downtown and return to work. Originally Graves planned to cut a tunnel up to 100 feet into the bluff. This would allow the elevator to lift vertically. But he decided, after a trip to the Swiss Alps, to build a funicular.


Nearly two years later, on July 9, 1886, the elevator was destroyed by fire.  Remembering that his neighbors had often asked for rides, Graves opened his newly rebuilt elevator to all riders for a fare of five cents. On May 25, 1893 the elevator burned again. Accustomed to having the use of the elevator, ten neighbors each invested $250 and formed the Fenelon Place Elevator Company and bought Graves’ interest in the system.


What a great view of Dubuque and the Mississippi River from atop the Fenelon Place Elevator! At the top there are two observation decks, which offer a commanding view of the downtown Dubuque area. The states of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin can all be seen from the observation decks.

The funicular is 296 feet long, and angles up at 106 degrees with a vertical elevation of 98 feet. The two cars start at opposite ends, passing each other at the midpoint of the elevator. See the two split tracks that blend back into one track? The two cars counterbalance each other, drawing  power from an engine in the station house at the top of the hill. The engine only needs to overcome inertia and friction and compensate for the varying weight of the passengers in the cars.

After several fires, the current funicular was built in 1893 on the footprint of the 1882 incline; the 1893 funicular inaugurated the use of the cable car technology that continues in use today.


Stop for a cup of great (according to David) coffee at Monks Kaffee Pub at the base of the funicular. Funky little place!

We are never able to resist the opportunity to stroll through an arboretum! The Dubuque Arboretum, with the last colors of fall, is a serene place to unwind and relax. Pumpkins! And beautiful landscapes let you know Fall is here! My favorite fall combo is Pumpkins and Mums! Happy!!

Copper art sculpture swirling in the breeze and a very unique tree! Weeping European Beach. The branches droop downward forming little umbrellas of leaves. The Dubuque Arboretum was lovely even this late in the season. I can only imagine how beautiful it is during the spring and summer! All of this goes to show you, you can find fun and adventure everywhere you go if you will only get out and go exploring!

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