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Meet, Mount Horeb — a Quirky Wisconsin Village With Modern Sensibilities

Mount Horeb’s charming trolls add heritage to emerging high-tech in this thriving old Wisconsin village.

By Livability on March 29, 2023

Mount Horeb, Wisconsin
Courtesy of Fiber Homes

Mount Horeb is a classic Wisconsin village with all its historic charm and quirks, a welcoming sense of community, and all the amenities and lifestyle opportunities that come with the town’s proximity to Wisconsin’s bustling state capital.

Founded by Norwegian settlers in the 1850s, Mount Horeb is now a village of about 8,000 people in western Dane County, just a short drive from Madison and the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin (UW-M).

UW-M and state government and a wide variety of private enterprises large and small keep the immediate area’s economy diversified and strong. Locally, the village’s lively downtown is anchored by Duluth Trading Company’s flagship store and also features gourmet restaurants, casual cafes, sumptuous bakeries and a world-class brewpub.

The quirky? Mount Horeb embraces its rich Norwegian heritage, with the charming “troll” theme popping up in figurines and decorations on businesses in numbers enough that the local Chamber of Commerce has dubbed Main Street as the “Trollway.”

Locally owned telecommunications also are part of the heritage here. Mount Horeb Telephone Company, now known as MHTC, has served the community for well over a century and now offers high-speed fiber-optic internet service to keep homes and businesses connected at blazing digital speeds.

Unique landscape invites outdoor adventure

Geographically, Mount Horeb sits on U.S. Highway 151 and is about a half-hour drive to Madison’s Dane County Regional Airport, with Milwaukee about a hundred miles to the east.

The village is nestled in the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin, a unique topography characterized by rolling hills, bluffs and valleys that surround Mount Horeb with beautiful parks, forests and wildlife areas. 

The Mount Horeb Area Historical Society’s Driftless Historium is a robust museum in town that celebrates the history and unique landscape of this area. In nearby Blue Mounds, meanwhile, there is the Cave of the Mounds, a limestone cavern that hosts guided, well-lit tours of its natural mineral sculptures.

The climate here is classified as “humid continental” with average highs of around 70 in July and in the 20s in January, providing the seasonal snow, cool spring, fall colors and summer warmth to enjoy camping, fishing, hiking and more at such locations as Donald County Park and Stewart Lake County Park in Mount Horeb as well as nearby Brigham County Park, Governor Dodge State Park, Blue Mounds State Park and Indian Lake County Park. 

Trout fishermen, meanwhile, enjoy targeting such popular local creeks as Black Earth and Elvers creeks. Indeed, hunters and fishermen, hikers and bikers, cross-country skiers and snow-shoers find plenty of woods and water to keep them happily engaged year-round in and around Mount Horeb.

Education and healthcare needs are well-served

The well-regarded Mount Horeb Area School District serves the community’s 2,500 or so students with one high school, one middle school, and three elementary schools. Higher education here is anchored by the world-renowned University of Wisconsin-Madison. Madison Area Technical College also has campuses nearby.

Healthcare services also abound, including UW Health Mount Horeb, an affiliate of the medical school system from nearby US-Madison.  Madison-based SSM Health Dean Medical Group also has a local clinic that offers primary care, pediatrics and women’s health, and there are dental practices, pharmacies, home healthcare providers, and other healthcare-related services readily available in and around Mount Horeb.

Downtown Mount Horeb drives local economy

The thriving Madison area provides a strong employment base for manufacturers, software companies and other tech-heavy businesses that Mount Horeb residents can easily commute to or stay connected through MHTC internet while working from home.

Meanwhile, small and some not-so-small businesses drive the local economy, including outdoor and work clothing leader Duluth Trading, which now is headquartered here and employs several hundred people in the area. Notable operations in Mount Horeb include 3-D printing specialist Midwest Prototyping and other sophisticated operations that can rely on robust, business-focused internet service from MHTC.

Then there’s downtown Mount Horeb with its wide variety of locally owned shops, restaurants and businesses, such as the award-winning Grumpy Troll Brewpub and Schubert’s Downtown Restaurant, a go-to for classic American fare for more than 100 years. There’s also Sjolinds Chocolate House & Chocolate Factory, which is sweet a place to visit as it sounds.

And then, again, the trolls. They join with antique stores, art galleries and other specialty food shops to help make downtown Mount Horeb an enduring destination that charmingly reflects its Norwegian heritage.

MHTC has deep roots and a fiber-based future

Mount Horeb Telephone Company traces its roots to 1895 when a local newspaper editor strung a wire across fence posts and roofs to connect his phone to a local school. The locally owned and operated company now does business as MHTC to better reflect the diversity of advanced telecommunication services it provides to the residents of southwestern Wisconsin.

MHTC became an internet service provider (ISP) back in 1995 and continues offering high-speed DSL and digital cable TV service as it rolls out its fiber network to an ever-increasing number of communities in its service area. Wi-Fi network installs and maintenance and internet domain housing add to the lineup of services provided with the personal touch that Mount Horeb and surrounding areas have come to expect from people in the business of supporting their neighbors, friends and families with critical telecom services.

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