Gary Schlosstein has a passion for history.
The Buffalo County native owns Castlerock Museum, W1586 County Road KK, Alma. The museum displays his personal collection of swords, helmets, paintings and shields spanning more than a thousand years of world history.
"Basically what we're covering is the development of the iron age" Schlosstein told Newsline 9, standing in front of a full armored suit.
"We've had a lot of people here that have traveled to a lot of the great museums of Europe. And they walk out of here saying this has been presented to them more clearly, and is more enjoyable" Schlosstein said.
The 84 year-old says when he was 10 he purchased an authentic civil war musket. From then on, he couldn't resist finding more pieces of historic value.
"I must be a packrat. And that's simply because I've noted that most of the depression baby people that go through here are the kind of people where they don't throw many things away, they just keep acquiring" he said.
Amid his prized acquisitions is a thousand year old Viking helmet found near the North Sea. King Henry VIII's gun shield sits several feet away behind a glass counter. And a full suit of Maximillian armor greets visitors at the door. The suit is rare in that each piece of it original are to the knight who wore it.
Included in those prized possessions is a rare sword from the Crusades.
"There's a sword that's been absolutely identified to have been made for and carried in the first crusade. That was 1096. It's the only known piece that has a religious motif on it that's very clear" Schlosstein said. The sword features the words "Jesus" on one side of the blade and "Maria" on the other.
Individually each piece in Schlosstein's collection is rare. And to find them in all together is a unique experience you will only find in Wisconsin..
Castlerock Museum is open Friday and Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students, free for small children accompanied by an adult, and free for military personnel on active duty.
For directions and more details log on to www.castlerockmuseum.com.
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