It’s a story that “up north” folks know all too well. Someone from Milwaukee or Madison recalls the time they went “up north.” Invariably the story almost always takes place somewhere like Oshkosh or The Dells. Our hearts sink to be reminded that the map of Wisconsin might as well end right there.
We wonder if these worldly travelers have ever heard of Mellen, or Birchwood, or Phelps, or if the words Chequamegon and Namekagon just seem like an unpronounceable mistakes. Somewhere north of the 45th parallel and south of Superior’s shores lies a pocket of land known only in tourist brochures. A wild and rugged landscape carved by glaciers, littered with lakes, rivers, waterfalls and evergreens. A place for whom many the nearest shopping mall is a day-trip away and cell phone coverage is spotty at best. A place that hundreds of thousands of people call home—by choice.
What separates Wisconsin’s north and south? Maybe it’s not any one highway, or landmark. Although many have tried to draw those lines. Maybe it’s simply a way of life.
North in Focus is a magazine dedicated to that north. The further north. The north that’s home to brilliant minds and amazing artists—brimming with stories, culture and history. The north with places you’ll never read about in brochures, and seldom see featured on television. And the north that is all too often left behind, overlooked and under-represented, with challenges that Madison has never quite understood.
North in Focus is both an homage and a service to this north, the place that publisher Jessica de la Cruz calls home. Born and raised in Spooner, Jessica has driven every mile of Wisconsin Highways 8, 29, and 64. Her Wisconsin accent is as much a part of her as her memories growing up in the northwoods. She’s watched this landscape evolve, struggle, and even thrive in many ways since then.
Untold stories are happening every day, here, on every back road from Indianhead country to the Michigan border. North in Focus brings a voice to these stories and to Wisconsin’s historically unknown upper half.
Above, photos by Jessica de la Cruz. (1) Vintage cars line up for a race in a roadside field near Lampson. (2) An Elk Crossing sign in Clam Lake. (3) An otter skims across a glassy sunset at Crex Meadows in Grantsburg.
North in Focus welcomes your contributions or story ideas. To contribute photography, writing, or request permission to republish content, please contact Jessica through our Contact Us page.