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Artesian Stock Farm by Kathleen Haak

Artesian Stock Farm 1884
Artesian Stock Farm 1884
Every September the Victorian estate currently know as Villa Louis comes alive as the Villa Louis Carriage Classic takes place. Regarded as the second largest carriage horse show in the United States, the Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin based show is well received by horsemen and tourists alike.

Fur trader and entrepreneur, Hercules Dousman first developed the Wisconsin property in the 1840s. The land had not been empty however. The Indians first created the mound upon which the estate sits, with several military installations following over the years. The mound created a flood proof setting as well as an elegant view of the surrounding Mississippi River and Prairie du Chien landscape.

It was Dousman’s son, H. Louis Dousman, that built the present home and stables in the 1870’s. The estate became know as the Artesian Stock Farm. It was named after the two artesian wells on the property. The farm boasted a fine track on which well-bred Standardbred stock were trained. Erelong 1141, Sprague Pilot 2458, Combination 2684, Demander 2685, and Col Brisbois are among the stallions listed at the farm as well as the mares, Beatrice, Czarina, and Edwina. By July 1883 there was annual racing on the farm track. Unfortunately, the Louis’ plans were cut short following his untimely death in January of 1886.

The farm was renamed in his honor. The property became Wisconsin’s first State Historic Site in 1952. Standardbreds still follow in their ancestor’s footsteps, only now they pull a carriage rather than a sulky around the old Artesian Stock Farm. You can learn more about Villa Louis at here.

Dean Achenbach driving a four-in-hand of Standardbreds at Villa Louis.
CAA member, Dean Achenbach, driving a four-in-hand of Standardbreds at Villa Louis.
A young Mike Rider, now the Villa Louis Carriage Classic organizer, driving a Standardbred at Villa Louis.
A young Mike Rider, now the Villa Louis Carriage Classic organizer, driving a Standardbred at Villa Louis.

Reprinted with permission from The Standardbred Connection.