This box was placed 6-Aug-2004 by Timbertoes, and adopted for care and maintenance by Kermit on 26-Apr-2011. Timbertoes passed away in 2007, and this box is maintained and cared for in honor of her memory.
The Prairie Letterbox is located in Richard Bong State Recreation Area. The Rec Area is part of the Wisconsin State Park system and, as such, visitors are required to pay an admission fee to enter the park. Round trip for this letterbox takes about 45 minutes.
Recreation areas are different from state parks because some activities are allowed that aren't always allowed in state parks. Activities such as hunting, hang gliding, flying model airplanes, dog trials, hot air ballooning, horseback riding and more. These activities are carefully scheduled to reduce conflicts among them.
This recreation area is named after Richard Ira Bong, America's most distinguished fighter pilot. In the 1950's, while searching for a strategic location to build a new air base to protect the Chicago/Milwaukee area from hostile attack, the United State government selected nearly 7 square miles (5,540 acres) of land in Racine and Kenosha counties. In 1959 the air base project was abandoned, three days before surfacing of the gravel runway was to begin. After much debate, the Conservation Committee was given control of the land to use for recreational purposes and the name, which was to have been used for the air base, was kept, in honor of World War II flying ace, Richard Bong.
The entrance to Richard Bong State Rec Area is located on Hwy. 142 about 1/2 mile west of the intersection of Hwy. 75 and Hwy. 142.
[Note from Kermit: We found this park to be heavily infested with ticks. Please take appropriate precautions, and check yourself and your pets well after hiking!]
To find out where in the park to begin your search, you'll have to solve a little puzzle first. Each letter of the four answers fit into the location name. Letters may be used more than once. (There should be a blank line corresponding to each of the numbers 1 thru 12. If you'd like to confirm your answer before you look for the box, email your answer to me.)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ = location to begin (12 letters)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Fill in your answers from below into the puzzle above:
2, 8, 9, 4, 11 is an electronic wave catcher
5, 3, 1, 6, 7, 2 is an activity done before rinsing and repeating
9, 7, 8, 12, 6 is an ending
10, 3, 1, 7, 2, 8, 5 is a sideways movement
Now that you know where to begin, here is the next step. Answer this question with one of the choices given. Next to each choice is the color of a trail. The correct answer will give you the color of the trail you should take. (Hint: You may wish to pick up some informational pieces at the Entrance Station or Visitors Center.)
Question: Which of these uses was not one of the options considered for use of the abandoned air base?
a) shopping complex (take the green trail)
b) residential complex (take the red trail)
c) prison facility (take the blue trail)
d) recreation area (take the orange trail)
On the right trail? Good. Now you'll cross between two wet spots on a bed of wood. Cross the path used for horseless carriages and follow the trail to the left. As you ascend, notice the beautiful prairie land to your right. Richard Bong Recreation Area is the largest managed prairie in Southeast Wisconsin.
You'll cross a trail used by those put out of work by the carriages mentioned above. On your right a little further on, you'll see a small stairway that would be useful if you had a sled and a little snow.
Moving on, resist the temptation to veer off on side paths of a different color. Stay true to your original color choice and enjoy the hike as this section takes a bit of time. Eventually you'll reach a bench that was placed in memory of someone who shares the name of he who exited the lion's den unscathed. Rest yourself.
You have a decision to make. There are several trail choices ahead of you. Let your compass be your guide and select the trail indicated by a bearing of 178 degrees. (Note the color of this trail for future reference.)
Proceed upon this trail for 65 paces until you reach a tree on your left that is surrounded by rocks. As this is not a common occurrence in this area, finding the tree should not be difficult. This is the site of an old homestead, but precious little is left other than a covered-over well and these rocks. On one of the rocks you'll see remnants of the homesteader's handiwork. Look under the rock to find what you seek.
Proceed on the path of this color to return from whence you came.