DescriptionSoldiers returning home from the Black Hawk War were the first to promote Janesville's fertile valley on the Rock River. One who heard their praise was pioneer and visionary Henry F. Janes, who arrived in 1836, became the town's first postmaster and started a ferry and tavern. In 1892 George Parker opened Parker Pen Co., and 1919 brought the arrival of General Motors Corp., which became the town's largest employer.
Several accomplished women hail from Janesville. Born here in 1862 was Carrie Jacobs Bond, one of the first female songwriters to become published and writer of “A Perfect Day,” which sold more than 5 million copies in 10 years. In 1846 the family of 7-year-old Frances Willard moved to Janesville where she remained until 1864; she later became the national president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and a relentless suffragist. Born in 1850 in nearby Johnstown Center, poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox sent the public stampeding to the bookstores after her “Poems of Passion” was printed by a progressive publisher.
Free water-skiing shows are performed by the Rock Aqua Jays at Traxler Park, 600 N. Main St., on Wednesday and Sunday evenings in summer; phone (608) 754-5879. Janesville also offers 25 miles of hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing trails, the eight-mile Wisconsin Ice Age Trail, and 14 area golf courses.
Visitor InfoJanesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau 20 S. Main St. JANESVILLE, WI 53545. Phone:(608)757-3171 or (800)487-2757
Self-guiding toursThe Janesville Historic Commission has identified nine residential and four downtown commercial historic districts. Brochures describing each district and the downtown self-guiding tour map are available from the Janesville Historic Commission, 18 N. Jackson St., P.O. Box 5005; phone (608) 755-3107 or (608) 755-3000. The Rock County Historical Society offers free 1-hour walking tours of Janesville's historic districts and downtown on most Saturdays from June to October. Tours depart from various locations at 9 a.m. Phone (608) 756-4509, ext. 304.
ShoppingJanesville Mall, 2500 Milton Ave., is anchored by Boston Store, Kohl's and Sears, and has more than 60 stores.
Things to SeeHelen Jeffris Wood Museum Center