Badger Sculpture of the USS Wisconsin – Madison, Wisconsin - Atlas Obscura

Badger Sculpture of the USS Wisconsin

Comprised of Spanish war cannons, this sculpture once graced the bow of a WWI warship.  

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The state animal of Wisconsin is the badger, so fittingly, the capitol building in Madison is full of badgers. They can be seen on doorknobs, as sculptures, or even in murals. The choice of the badger as Wisconsin’s state animal pays homage to the miners that came to Wisconsin in the early 19th-century and dug out crude hovels inside of hills, very much like a badger.

This 1,200-pound badger sculpture has traveled far and wide. The cast was crafted around 1899 from melted cannons taken from Cuba during the Spanish-American War. It was created by Milwaukee artist Paul Kuppers and was given as a gift to the USS Wisconsin battleship. The badger was installed on the prow portion of the ship’s bow, and remained there until the outbreak of WWI. It was removed from the prow of the USS Wisconsin in 1914 and transported to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where it remained for more than 60 years.

In 1988, it was returned to Wisconsin to become part of a Wisconsin Historical Society exhibit for the recommissioning of the second USS Wisconsin. The badger was moved into the Wisconsin state capitol building in 1989 and remains there to this day. Passers-by rub the badger’s nose for good luck, hence the gold color of his schnozzle.

Know Before You Go

You can find this well-traveled badger outside of the governor’s office inside the Wisconsin state capitol building on the second floor in the East wing. If you have trouble finding it, just ask any of the people working there or one of the police officers in the capitol building. They will gladly direct you.


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