A small crossroads town with a couple of surprises surrounded by a bounty of fresh local produce.
Arriving in Town
Centerville is the crossroads of state highways 35, 54, and 93 and only has two roads. If you get lost here, you shouldn’t be driving.
Initially called Martin’s Corners, presumably because some guy named Martin lived here, someone eventually realized that this little unincorporated village was right in the middle of Trempealeau Prairie and about halfway between Trempealeau and Galesville. Thus was born Centerville.
The Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge (W28488 Refuge Rd.; 608.539.2311; open during daylight hours only) has 6220 acres of splendid isolation. Instead of the jarring sound of trains or cars, you’ll just hear distant echoes from across the river. The refuge has a varied topography like sand prairies and bottomland forest with wildlife to match. If you arrive around dawn or dusk, you are more likely to see wildlife, like the beaver that swam in front of me one spring evening. The refuge has a visitor center (open M–F), an observation deck overlooking the backwaters, a 4½ mile auto route, and three hiking trails.
Sports and Recreation
The Great River State Trail ends at the Wildlife Refuge, so it’s time to turn around and go back.
The Centerville Curling Club (608.539.3651; Nov–March) has been active since 1947 but the sport has been popular in these parts since the 1850s. Visitors are welcome to drop by and watch the action, especially on weekends when bonspiels (tournaments) fill the ice. Most events are free.
Fresh produce abounds around Centerville. Four generations of Eckers have run Eckers Orchards (W27062 State Road 54/35; 608.539.2652; open dail Aug–Dec.). They grow about a dozen varieties of apples; you can sample before you buy, and get homemade apple pie, to boot.
The Berry Patch (N16414 Kriesel Lane; 608.539.5541; open daily in season) is a great place for fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, including some that you can pick yourself: strawberries, blueberries, snozberries, tomatoes, squash.
Sacia’s Orchards (N16545 Kriesel Lane; 608.582.2511; open daily in season) has strawberries and asparagus in spring, plus apples in the fall.
Beedles Bar and Restaurant (W24966 State Highway 54/93; 608.539.2251) is a pleasant surprise with its upscale cafeteria ambience. The menu is loaded with steak and seafood entrées; you can get a full pound ribeye steak, if you dare. On the lighter side, the salad bar has a nice range of items including lettuce that is actually green.
Heading upriver? Check out Marshland.
Heading downriver? Check out Trempealeau.
© Dean Klinkenberg, 2011
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