Click on each image to learn more!
THE FIRST DUCK TOUR!
This photo from the summer of 1946 shows the very first duck tour about to enter the Wisconsin River at Echo Point. The pilot is Bob Unger (the owner of the Duck). Helen Raab, who owned the wilderness property that made up the tour route, can be seen sitting with her friends in the back of the vehicle.
EARLY AMPHIBIOUS LANDING
A Duck crawls out of Dell Creek in 1949. Canopies over the passenger area were still years away.
This dirt parking lot served as staging area for duck tours in the early years of operation. Note the paint job — all white, with only the lower third of the vehicle in green.
This duck — beached near Newman’s Dam on Lake Delton — advertises “Amazing Land and Water Dells Tours” — one of the first slogans to be used by the Duck tour.
THE FIRST DUCK DOCK
The first formal Duck Dock served as office, souvenir store and ticket stand. Passengers boarded the ducks via stairs.
Canopies were installed on the ducks in the 1950s. The early versions were “convertible” in nature, allowing the canvas to be rolled up and down depending on weather.
WHERE ARE THE TREES?
This photo, taken at the Old Chicago Statues, shows only a few tiny saplings where towering pines now stand.
This pamphlet marks the first appearance of “Fun! Adventure! On land and water!® — the phrase that would become the promise and timeless trademark of Original Wisconsin Ducks®.
By the early 1960s, the Original Wisconsin Ducks® had a more consistent appearance: Sturdier canopy (with life preserver racks), no slogan on the side, and green passenger rail and canvas.
During the early decades of the duck tour, a herd of goats lived in the Lower Dells Scenic Park. They would frequently visit ducks parked along the trail, hoping for sugar cubes. Here we see the sure-footed animals perched on the cliff wall near Hawk’s Bill.
THE CLASSIC LOOK
By the late ‘60s, Original Wisconsin Ducks® had adopted much of what would become their modern day appearance: Green everywhere except the upper portion of the side panels. “Fun and adventure on land and water” was featured there for nearly a decade.
A NEW DUCK DOCK.
A completely new Duck Dock was in operation by the mid-1970s (while remodeled and expanded since, the same building is still in use today). It was built on a low hill so that passengers no longer had to climb steps to board.
In the mid-1970s, a competitor named the Aquaducks operated a cruise tour on Mirror Lake. When they closed, Original Wisconsin Ducks® purchased and incorporated their fleet into ours.
Spurred by rising fuel prices and the need to increase power and performance, the mechanical wizards at Original Wisconsin Ducks® successfully converted the first amphibious duck (named Tinian) to diesel power. Today, ducks are being converted to diesel at the rate of 3 to 5 ducks per year.
THE WORLD’S LARGEST FLEET
By the 1990s, Original Wisconsin Ducks® had traveled the nation and most of Europe to add ducks to its fleet. Today, this fleet boats over 90 Ducks — the largest fleet in the world.
To make the duck tour a 100% wilderness adventure, Original Wisconsin Ducks® circumvented any highway driving by creating new trails that connected directly with the original trail route. This opened up scenic locales that had never been accessible before, including Black Hawk Gorge, Turkey Hollow and a brand new Hopalong Hill.