History Behind Rustic Ridge

The first Wesleyan Methodist Camp Meeting was held in all probability in the early 1890’s on the “old” campground known as the Bethel Camp, located near Ironton, Wisconsin. The annual camp was held there until the early 1900’s. Tent meetings were then held around the state for a number of years.

Perhaps the beginning of the Burr Wesleyan Methodist Camp Meeting, as it is now known, was the tent meeting held in the John Wong grove, two miles west of the present campground, in the summer of 1908. The Rev. H. H. Williams was evangelist; Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Williams, his son, were in charge of the music. It seems that more than one tent meeting was held in this same grove.

During two different summers tent meetings were held in the Williams Nofsinger grove, a mile or so further west. For a number of years the meetings were held on the present site, then the Joe Alderson grove. The Camp Meeting Association purchased the grounds from him in 1923.

The dining hall on the original Bethel Camp was razed in 1924 and the material was transported to Burr by Ivan Eastman in his old Model T Ford. This lumber was used to build a small dining hall and a two-room workers’ cottage. These buildings are still in use; the dining hall was enlarged and is known as the Missionary Building dorm.

In the years 1925 and 1926 the tabernacle and the dining hall were built. The Rev. J. B. Clawson was the master builder. The dining hall, a two story, frame building with sleeping rooms overhead, still stands and is called Harmony Hall. The snack shop has been added to it.

Over the years, the camp continued to grow and more buildings were added to accommodate the 300 to 400 weekly campers. At some point, an 1880’s white framed chapel was moved to the premises and the name of the campground was changed to Rustic Ridge Resort. This is probably one of the oldest existing campgrounds in the State of Wisconsin.