Home : Welcome to Palmyra > History of Palmyra



Carlin House and Turner Museum, located at 112 N. Third St., Palmyra, Wisconsin (about 50 miles southeast of Madison and 45 miles southwest of Milwaukee), Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm (first weekend in May thru the first weekend of December).

With so much to boast about, it's easy to see why Palmyra is called the "Heartbeat of the Kettle Moraine."

Nestled along the west edge of the scenic Kettle Moraine Forest in southeastern Wisconsin, Palmyra is a charming community of 1,700 people that is steeped in history and tradition. From its early days, Palmyra would make a mark on Wisconsin history, as when the first Wisconsin railroad was laid through the village in 1852, a posh resort hotel and healing spa was built in 1874, and one of the state's first Old Settlers' Day celebrations was established in 1885.

Many prominent businesses would spring up in Palmyra over the years, starting with a sawmill built in 1847, water bottling companies in the late 1800s, and a prosperous and highly awarded automobile sales business in the early 1900s.

Amid a flourish of development activity in the mid-to-late 1800s, Palmyra gained notoriety for having one of the "great wonders of the world," which drew nation-wide attention from journalists and celebrity figures alike. The wonder still exists, and we'd love to tell you more about it and all the other special things about Palmyra and the surrounding area.



The first settler, Cyrus Norton, arrived in the Scuppernong Valley in 1839.  Palmyra became a settlement in 1842 when Indians still roamed the countryside.  It was then that David and Samuel Powers built a sawmill and laid out the town and platted the village.  The Power brothers named the settlement Palmyra after a city in the Syrian Desert because of the abundance of sand they found in the area. Palmyra was incorporated on April 4, 1866 and held its first election of Village Officers on May 15, 1866.  Due to an error in section location the charter was dissolved in 1872 and a new one was granted in 1874.

Six mineral springs, each known for their medical and therapeutic properties, were an important part of Palmyra’s early years.  From 1870 to the early 1920’s, people from across the country visited Palmyra enjoying the healing waters at the Palmyra Spring Sanitarium.  In 1924, the sanitarium became the National Druggist Home, but a few years later interest in the therapeutic mineral water treatments declined and the sanitarium was closed.  In the late 1950’s the building was razed and the land leveled.

The era of the Sanitarium with its water cures and mineral springs helped to shape the history of Palmyra.  They have held a never-ending curiosity and fascination of the early years when people traveled to Palmyra from all over the country and have been of interest for generations.