One of the Northwoods' Best Kept Secrets Opening to the Public

By: Jonalee Merkel Email
By: Jonalee Merkel Email

Nestled deep in the woods of Oneida County, down a winding dirt path lies one magical secret of the Northwoods.

Near Tomahawk is a castle a Wausau man started building from the ground up back in 1986.

"I was probably still in high school when I thought to do this and when I was about 19 I decided that I'm going to do it," said Pete Kelley. "I studied a lot before I began, made drawings for years."

Now, more than two decades after he started building, Kelley's plans are becoming a mystic reality, piece by piece.

And while the Oneida County castle, called Kelley Arms, is a modern day castle, it has several amentities that give it an old-time feel and bring a bit of the Middle Ages to the Northwoods.

The private fortress has witch poles, a few canons to ward away attackers and its very own mote.

"A castle should be impressive," Kelley said. "Then it has to be practical so you can live in it."

Kelley said he would like to live in his castle someday, but first he needs to conclude his life-long project.

"Done is a subjective word," he said. "To have a roof on it and things like that, in a few years."

Kelley Arms will be open for tours Friday through Sunday beginning at 10 a.m. A tour will cost $3 per person.

To get to the castle, you can take US 51 to Highway 8 west. Take Highway 8 west to Highway Y. Head 5 miles north on Highway Y to Rice Road. Go about a quarter mile west on Rice Road. The first driveway on the left leads to Kelley Arms. Signs along Highway Y will also help guide you to "Kelley Arms."

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