Sandy Hook takes its name from the deep piles of sand in the area. No need to get bogged down here, though.
Direct your questions to the Grant County UWEX Office (866.472.6894/608.723.2125) or surf to the Grant County tourism website.
Sandy Hook is a small, unincorporated village that has slipped under the radar of those folks who write local histories. With no written history as a resource, I relied on more informal sources. Here is what I learned: Sandy Hook is located in Jamestown Township, first settled in 1827 as miners migrated to the settlement of Hardscrabble (now known as Hazel Green). Mining was the main draw in the early years. Peyton Vaughn established ferry service downhill from Sandy Hook in 1840 and his settlement became known, predictably, as Vaughn’s Landing. Jamestown Township was organized in 1849 when it had 666 residents; in 2000, the township counted 2,077 residents, only a small portion of whom live in Sandy Hook. Before Lock and Dam #11 was completed in 1937, there was a popular dance hall near the river (downhill from Sandy Hook); it is now submerged. During Prohibition, the islands in the Mississippi River were popular places to locate stills. The village’s anchor has been, for generations, the Sandy Hook Tavern, which you can still visit today.
O’Leary’s Lake Recreation Area (Eagle Point Lane; 866.472.6894), next to Lock and Dam #11, was named for the family with seven kids that grew up next to its shore; it is a popular place to fish and watch the river.
Fenley State Recreation Area (Bluff Hollow Rd.; 608.996.2261) is an out-of-the-way nature reserve with a secluded overlook atop Sinipee Bluff that has good views of the Mississippi River. The only way to the top is via a slippery uphill climb, then a hike along the edge of a cornfield. Allow at least an hour to get up and back and to ensure that you have time to hang out on the overlook. The recreation area is a little tricky to find, so follow these directions. From Dubuque, take the Kieler exit for Highways H/HHH. Turn left, then after going under the bridge, turn right. When you reach the stop sign, turn left onto Peddle Hollow Road and go 2.3 miles to Bluff Road. Turn left. After about ¾ of a mile, you will see a dirt road on the right. Turn there and follow it to the parking lot, which is next to a creek.
Sandy Hook is included in these products:
The Country Heights Supper Club (1154 N. Badger Rd.; 608.748.4868) is a traditional Wisconsin supper club-type deal, with quality steak and seafood entrées; for something a little different from standard supper club-type fare, try the beef rib tips stir-fry or an alligator appetizer.
The Country Heights Motor Inn (1154 N. Badger Rd.; 608.748.4866; WiFi) has 23 simple, clean, spacious rooms next to the supper club of the same name.
Heading upriver? Check out Kieler.
Heading downriver? Check out East Dubuque.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2009