Walking Iron History

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Walking Iron history is found throughout Mazomanie’s quaint community.  The year was 1865 when an enterprising barrel cooper from Milwaukee named William Thompson journeyed to Mazomanie and began building this stately home.

Financed by his success with the Mazomanie Flour Mill, Thompson constructed this impressive Italianate home.

Our town’s name, Mazomanie, comes from Chief Mazomani, a leader of the Sioux of Minnesota.  His name translates to “The Iron That Walks,” or “Walking Iron.” Our town was named by Edward Brodhead, a superintendent of the railroad during the 1850’s.

Chief Mazomani was described as a firm friend of the whites. He was wounded on September 23, 1862, in a battle between a band of Indians led by Little Crow, a Sioux chief, and the U.S. Army near Yellow Medicine River, Minnesota. Chief Mazomani had sought a flag of truce, but was shot while running toward the Army’s lines. He died several days later.

Mazomanie, and our town’s rich railroad history, both reflect the name “Walking Iron”.

One hundred and thirty-one years later, David and Karisa Friske became the new owners, and the monumental task of restoring the home to its original grandeur became their goal.

Watch our video of “If Walls Could Talk” segment featured on HGTV.


The owners began a full-scale restoration in 1996. Three years later the doors were open. Eighteen years and many wonderful guests later, Walking Iron Bed and Breakfast continues to brings a special place to life for travelers from everywhere in the world.

Fast forward eighteen years and the Friske’s are on to another new adventure: Weddings!  A 1,000 square foot pergola was constructed to accommodate up to 200 people.  You can check out the wedding venue website Villa by the Stream for pictures and more information.

Karisa is an office manager at Cross Plains Dental. After several years of going to school and working at Kraft Foods, she decided to get out of the rat race, and this job is perfect for that! She graduated with a BS in Psychology from UW-Madison in 1999.

When he’s not busy restoring the bed and breakfast, David works for Bethel Luthern Church as the Media Director.  He graduated with a Communications degree from UW-Madison in 1989. Their children are Kaia, age 25, Zane, age 23, and Colt, age 21.

Over the years they have restored the carriage house and converted it into their personal residence. It was built in 1909 and was converted into an art studio in the early 1980’s. Cathedral ceilings and oak beams blended with the rustic decor make their home a real contrast to the Victorian splendor of the main house.

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