Category Archives: Archaeology Expedition

Eyes In The Deep: Exploring the Shipwreck APPOMATTOX

July 15th-17th marked the 5th annual Eyes in the Deep program, where the public are given the opportunity to explore and document local Lake Michigan shipwrecks along Milwaukee’s lakefront. This season, Discovery World once again assembled a team of experts to showcase underwater technology in the exploration and documentation of the shipwreck Appomattox located at the end of Capitol Dr. off Atwater Beach.  Our research platform for this maritime expedition was the Milwaukee Boat Lines bi-level vessel the Voyageur captained by Jake Gianelli.

This year David Thompson of Nautilus Marine Group and Portunes International brought his Proteus ROV (remotely operated vehicle), which were the primary “eyes” on the shipwreck.  Built by Hydroacoustics, the Proteus 500 ROV is 28 inches long x 16 inches wide x 13 inches tall.  It weighs 70 lbs (31.8 kgs) and can dive 500 ft (152 m) using on board rechargeable batters that power two forward thrusters, one vertical thruster and one horizontal thruster.  With around 500 lines of resolution, the video camera can tilt 170 degrees and switch between color or black and white, making it ideal for exploring in low visibility water.

Sector Scan Sonar mosaic of Appomattox, at 30 meters radius per scan

A few weeks before this event, we had the opportunity to work with Dave and his colleague Brian Abbott of Nautilus Marine Group to map the Appomattox shipwreck using acoustic imaging called Sector Scanning Sonar.  Brian has worked internationally on archaeological sites, including mapping the Titanic, so having him here was a great treat.  This preliminary sonar survey was performed off the Adventure Charter Boat catamaran Mai Tai , owned and operated by Captain Rick Hake.  In one weekend we successfully mapped four shipwrecks off Milwaukee.

Original photograph in Historical Collection of the Great Lakes at Bowling Green University

Built in 1896 at the James Davidson shipyard in West Bay City, Michigan, the 319-foot long Appomattox was the largest wooden bulk steamer ever produced on the Great Lakes, and possibly the world.  With an oak hull supported by steel bracing and powered by a triple expansion steam engine, the Appomattox was a truly modern vessel by contemporary standards.  She had an uneventful life on the Great Lakes until the night of November 2nd 1905, when loaded with a cargo of coal, she was blinded by heavy smog and industrial smoke emanating from Milwaukee.  As a result, the Appomattox ran hard aground on a sandbar, just north of the Milwaukee Harbor entrance off the end of Capitol Drive.  Unable to be freed, she was pounded in the heavy surf, stripped of valuables and eventually abandoned.  Today the Appomattox rests in 15-20 feet of water with large sections of her hull still intact.

This site plan was completed by the Wisconsin Historical Society's Underwater Archaeology and Maritime Preservation Program

On Friday July 15th at 10am sharp, the Voyageur left Discovery Worlds’ dock with over 30 middle and high school students onboard, as part of Discovery Worlds’ summer camp program in Underwater Robotics and Underwater Archaeology.  Several adult passengers were also aboard, as we made the forty-five minute voyage to the Appomattox shipwreck.  En route, all were given a presentation about the shipwreck that was previously researched by the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Underwater Archaeology and Maritime Preservation program, as well as the Great Lakes Shipwreck Research Foundation.

Dave Thompson (left) teaches students about the ROV, while students (right) put the finishing touches on their ROVs prior to launch

Prior to arriving at the shipwreck, an auxiliary dive boat captained by Bob Jaeck left ahead of us in order to place a temporary mooring line for the Voyageur to tie off to.  This was done with the help of two divers, Brian Bockholt and Charles Hudson, who then assisted in guiding the ROV into the water.  To everyone’s amazement, within seconds the large shipwreck came into view on the monitors inside Voyageur.   The distinguishing feature of the wreck were the large keelsons, which formed the rigid internal skeleton of the ship.  These enormous oak timbers measure 1.5 feet across and over 30 feet in length.

Photograph by Tamara Thomsen (Wisconsin Historical Society)

Once we were safely on the wreck, the controls were turned over to anyone who wanted to pilot the ROV and explore the site.  We were even able to talk to the divers with the aid of an acoustic earpiece that picked up our voices from a hydrophone that was lowered into the water.  We spent over half an hour exploring the wreck, while the underwater robotics students got a chance to test out their hand-build ROVs.  Despite some buoyancy issues, the students’ ROVs performed very well. One was even fitted with a video camera that allowed us to see the shipwreck from its perspective.

Photograph by Tamara Thomsen (Wisconsin Historical Society)

The final expedition to the Appomattox occurred Sunday morning, July 17th, once again aboard Voyageur.  This time the auxiliary dive boat Mai Tai, captained by Adventure Charter boat captain Rick Hake arrived at the wreck site ahead of Voyageur in order to place the temporary mooring line for the larger Voyageur to tie off to.  Once on station, I put on my dive gear and swam over to Mai Tai, where Kimm Stabelfeldt (president of Great Lakes Shipwreck Research Foundation) and Captain Rick were also ready to SCUBA dive with the ROV and help take measurements.  Wearing a full face mask with a wireless microphone, I was then able to talk to the passengers aboard Voyageur and describe what the ROV and my handheld camera were seeing.  Meanwhile, Kimm Stabelfeldt began drawing a section of the shipwrecks port side as I assisted with measuring.  Of particular note on this dive were the six inch-wide iron reinforcing cross straps, placed inside the hull of the Appomattox when it was built, to give it extra strength.  Once again, anyone who wanted to drive the ROV was allowed to do so, which made for a very memorable experience.

Overall, this year’s Eyes in the Deep went off without a hitch, which for any underwater expedition is a feat.  The big unknown factor is always the weather.  Even though it was quite hot, the important thing was that the lake was calm, making it very comfortable to hover over the shipwreck for over an hour.  Based on the favorable feedback from the participants, it is clear that this expedition was a smashing success and one that serves as a template for future shipwreck explorations.  Stay tuned for that and more hands-on archaeology opportunities offered through Discovery World’s Distant Mirror Archaeology Program.

Chronicling Milwaukee’s Historic Breweries

Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing Westside Tour

Saturday, April 30th 2011 marked the third Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing tour, developed through Discovery World’s Distant Mirror archaeology program.  While the two previous tours have explored Milwaukee’s storied brewing sites in the heart of the city and on the near Southside, this urban archaeology expedition focused on the historic brewery sites located throughout Milwaukee’s near Westside.  This included several forgotten historic brewery sites, the behemoth Frederick Miller Brewery, the graves of two notable beer barons, as well as the former mansions of the Miller, Schlitz, Gettelman and Pabst families.

Each of the nearly fifty participants received a screen printed tote bag (printed in Discovery World’s print lab), which was filled with a custom bottle of “Westseitenbier Hefe Weizen”, brewed exclusively by yours truly for this tour in our new Thirst Lab, along with a detailed booklet outlining the chronologies for each of the sixteen sites on the tour. With Julie at the helm of a full coach bus, Leonard Jurgensen as Milwaukee Brewery Historian and I, as archaeological tour guide, the loaded Badger Bus rolled out from Discovery World just after 10am.

Weaving our way through a throng of pedestrians, walking in support of the March of Dimes, we quickly reached the former site of the Lake Brewery, which was established in 1841 by three pioneers from Wales.  This ale brewery built at the end of Clybourn Ave. (formerly Huron St.) lasted until 1880, at which point it was razed for an expanding railroad depot.  Today it is home to a Milwaukee County Transit bus garage.  Rolling west along Clybourn St. and then to St. Paul Ave., the second stop was a former Schlitz “tide house” on 19th St.  This three story cream city brick building was built in the late 1880s and still has a handsome Schlitz globe sign on the buildings upper cornice.  Today it is home to Sobelman’s pub and grill.

Stop three was the site of the former Banner Brewing Company (2302 W. Clybourn St.).  This short-lived post-prohibition brewery opened in 1933, where they brewed primarily weiss beer at an annual capacity of 8,000 barrels.  However, in 1936 the brewery ceased brewing operations for financial reasons and the brewery closed.  Today the building which was built in 1919 still stands, yet most of the façade is covered with metal siding.  Inside there is evidence of the original brew kettle ventilation pipe, as well as an original freight elevator.

Moving on, stop four brought us to the very intriguing brewery site of Franz Falk’s New Bavaria Brewery.  Located near 29th St. and Pierce St. along the south bluff of the Menomonee River valley, the property was first purchased by Franz Falk and Fredrick Goes in 1855.  While brewing may have taken place there prior to 1860, there is definitive evidence that major brewing operations began there in 1870.  In its heyday this brewery was one of the largest in Milwaukee, until two devastating fires destroyed the brew house and malt house in 1889 and 1892.  Today the brew house is no longer standing, however the original 1870 stables and three story stock house (ice house) still stand, making them perhaps the oldest surviving original brewing related buildings in Wisconsin.  They are both vacant buildings and in disrepair, however new property owners are looking to rehabilitate the structures.  Prior to the tour, this archaeologist employed ground penetrating radar over the location of the former brew house (now a gravel lot).  The preliminary results indicate the presence of a large foundation wall, among other evidence of structural remains.

By 11:15am we were in route to the Miller Valley for a tour of the sprawling Frederick Miller brewery.    The origin of this iconic North American brewery began in 1849, when Charles Best and Gustav Fine opened the Plank Road Brewery along what was then called the Madison, Watertown & Milwaukee Plank Road.  By 1855 Charles Best & Co. foreclosed on the brewery after the Germania Bank which held the loan to the brewery went bankrupt. Meanwhile, Frederick Miller purchased the Plank Road Brewery on June 11th 1856 for $2,370.  Over the following 150+ years, this brewery would grow to the immense size that it is today, covering several acres and brewing over a million barrels of beer per year.  Following a guided tour through several buildings on the property, including the original lagering caves, we made our way to the Miller Inn for a delicious catered lunch and beer sampling.

After lunch, the bus once again rolled on, this time to the little-known family home of Frederick Miller (3711 W. Miller Ln.), which was built in 1884 on a hill overlooking the brewery.  An octagonal turret on the southeast corner of this wood framed Queen Anne style home stands out as a noteworthy feature.  Today it is a private residence.

The next stop was a visit to Calvary Cemetery (2203 W. Bluemound Rd.) to pay our respects to the final resting place of Frederick Miller (1824-1888) and his family, as well as the grave of Phillip Jung (1845-1911), a notable beer baron who operated the Phillip Jung Brewing Company at 5th and Cherry St., between 1895-1920.  A toast to these 19th century brewers was a fitting way to salute their contribution to Milwaukee’s brewing heritage.

Moving farther west, we came to the former locations of the Castalia Brewery (1893-1898) and the Wisconsin Brewing Company (1996-1998).  Despite being separated by a century, both of these short-lived breweries were built in close proximity along the Menomonee River in the village of Wauwatosa (then called Center City).  Only the foundations of these former breweries remain in the floodplain of the Menomonee River.

 The next five stops took us to the mansions built for several notable Milwaukee brewing families, four of which are located on West Highland Blvd.  The Fredrick Pabst Jr. mansion, built in the Greek revival-style in 1896, still stands at 3112 W. Highland Blvd. Directly to the east (3030 Highland Blvd) is the original mansion of his brother Gustav Pabst, which was also built in 1896.  Across Highland Blvd is the former mansion of the Adam Gettelman family (2929 Highland Blvd), built in 1895.  Nine blocks to the east at 2004 W. Highland Blvd. stands the former home of Victor Schlitz (son of beer baron Joseph Schlitz), which was built in the Tudor-style in 1890. Finally, located at 2000 W. Wisconsin Ave. is the stately mansion of Captain Frederick Pabst, which was completed in 1892 and inspired by 17th Century English and Flemish Renaissance architecture.  We were all treated to a very entertaining guided tour of the mansion, which set the stage for our final stop at Captain Pabst’s office complex and guild hall (southwest corner of 9th and Juneau Ave).

As the bus pulled up to the 1880 castle-like complex at 4:15pm, the group enjoyed a refreshing pint in the elegant Blue Ribbon Hall (completed in 1940) as owner Jim Haertel gave an amusing historical overview of the property.  This led to a behind-the-scenes tour though the dilapidated corridors of the once mighty Pabst Brewery including the former office of Captain Pabst.   This led us to the original entrance to the complex and onto the awaiting bus, bringing to an end an enlightening and entertaining day of experiencing first hand several of Milwaukee’s historic brewery-related sites.

Stay tuned for a future tour of Milwaukee’s historic and contemporary brewery sites located on the Northside.  This tour is being planned for September 24th 2011.  Call (414) 765-8625 or email reservations@discoveryworld.org to reserve your seat. Finally, you can listen to an interview about this tour recorded on 89.7FM, Milwaukee Public Radio, which aired April 25th 2011.

http://www.wuwm.com/programs/lake_effect/le_sgmt.php?segmentid=7335

Milwaukee’s Historic Southside Breweries Rediscovered

Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing: South Side Brewing History Tour

Saturday September 25th brought together an enthusiastic group of Milwaukee brewing aficionados to pay homage to the extensive brewing legacies located throughout southern Milwaukee. More than thirty participants boarded the coach bus at 10:00am for this second Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing Heritage Tour, developed through the Distant Mirror Archaeology Program at Discovery World. During this epic tour, we visited a dozen historic sites in a dozen Milwaukee south side neighborhoods, the highlights from which are discussed here.

Our first disembarking off the bus was at Milwaukee’s very first verifiable commercial brewery site, the German Brewery, begun possibly as early as 1839 by Simon Reutelshofer on the southeast corner of S. 3rd St. & Virginia St.  It was here that we cracked open the special batch of Himbeere Hefe-Weizen that I brewed exclusively for this tour.  Sampling this Bavarian raspberry wheat beer at the former German Brewery site was a fitting honor, as we toasted to the origins of  Milwaukee’s heralded brewing tradition.  It was also a perfect way to begin our day with a cordial toast of 6% ale at 10:30am!

The group then strolled a block north to view the architecturally interesting cream city brick buildings built by the Pabst Brewing Company in 1892 and 1898. The original purpose of these buildings is unclear, yet it is likely they were used by the Pabst Brewing Co. as a cooperage (barrel manufacturing facility) or for manufacturing custom Pabst brewania.  While we were unable to obtain access due to open elevator shafts, etc. we were able to peer in the windows and examine the interesting exterior of the buildings.

Moving four blocks west, we pulled into the site the former Menominee Brewery, built in 1850 by Francis Neukrich.    In 1853 this large brewery was owned and operated by Charles T. Melms, who would go on to become Milwaukee’s first true “beer baron”. In 1864, C.T. Melms built an enormous Italianate-style mansion beside the brewery, however his premature death in 1869 caused by a tetanus infection would leave the family business in substantial debt.  This would lead to the transfer of the brewery site to the Philip Best Brewing Company, which was being operated out of the Empire Brewery in downtown Milwaukee. Subsequent ownership went to the Pabst Brewing Co. and it was in 1892 that the abandoned Melms mansion was torn down. Today, all that remains of the original brewery is the bottling house, built by Philip Best 1881.


Following a nice walk around the property with two Melms family historians, Margaret Berres and Tom Ludka, we made our way to the Milwaukee Brewing Company’s 2nd St. Brewery for a catered lunch and a custom tour lead by brewery president and founder, Jim McCabe. Jim gave us some great inside history on the names they chose for several of their celebrated ales.  For instance, the “Flaming Damsel” is named for a theatrical performance that took place in Milwaukee during the early 1900s in which a performing artist made her living by lighting herself on fire and diving from a 40-foot platform to the water below.

After lunch and a great tour of the Milwaukee Brewing Company’s south side brewery, we once again boarded the bus and made our way along National Avenue, to drive by several noteworthy Milwaukee brewing historic sites, including the sites of the former Graf and Madlener Weiss Beer Breweries, and the little known Excelsior Weiss Beer Brewery.  Now a residential structure, this former brewery was established by J.F. Cruscynski in 1884 on the southwest corner of S. 15th and W. Becher St.

By 1:30pm the coach bus arrived at Forest Home Cemetery as we sought out the final resting place of several Milwaukee beer barons, including those involved in the establishment of former brewery’s we had just visited.  Blatz, Schlitz and Pabst are household names, but Bills, Melms, Munzinger, Neukrich and Owens should be added to the list of famous Milwaukee brewery owners.

Our next stop took us to the former site of the Milwaukee Brewery Company (1892-1919) on S. 13th and W. Arthur St.  The plans for this elegant 19th century brewery were drawn by August Martizen of Chicago, sadly it was demolished during prohibition.  Nearby on S. 14th and Cleveland St. we passed the  site of the former Milwaukee Independent Brewing Company (1901-1962).  Today it is a petrol service station, but in its heyday, the brewery was noted for its famous “Braumeister” lager.

By 3pm we were once again getting thirsty, so we paid a visit to the newly established Horny Goat Brewing Company, to meet with Dave the brewmaster and sample a variety of their brews.  While they are yet to brew on the premises (by mid October) they currently contract their production with Point Brewery in Stevens Point, WI.  All were in great spirits as we sampled some nice versions of a Milk Stout, Pale Ale, Belgian Saison, Red Ale, etc.

Continuing down KinnickinnicAve. on the south side Milwaukee historic brewery trail, we passed near the former site of the Munzinger Weiss Beer Brewery (1890-1906) {2428 S. Burrell St.) as well as the contemporary Bay View Brew Haus.  However, due to a wedding in the Brew Haus, we rolled by on our way to our last stop on the tour, the St. Francis Brewery.  Coincidence would have it that this new brewery was celebrating Oktoberfest with live music, lederhosen laden lads and fair frauleins in froks (how about that for alliteration).  This was a great way to finish this second Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing tour amidst the sights, sounds and great tastes of this cities enduring tradition.

After traveling through a dozen Milwaukee south side neighborhoods to visit a dozen  historic brewery sites and three contemporary breweries, we were all feeling a wee bit weary but a whole lot more appreciative of the Milwaukee’s lasting legacy as our nations true brewing capital.  We are only beginning to put these historic breweries back on the map and we hope to launch two additional Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing tours next year, as we explore this cities west side and north side historic and contemporary brewing sites.  Watch for that in Spring 2011!

Listen to an interview about Milwaukee’s brewing history, recorded on 89.7FM Milwaukee Public Radio’s  Lake Effect program.

http://www.wuwm.com/programs/lake_effect/le_sgmt.php?segmentid=6614

Milwaukee Downtown Brewing History Tour

April 17th turned out to be an epic day of experiential learning about Milwaukee’s storied brewing past and present during DISCOVERY WORLD‘s inaugural Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing tour.  A crisp yet sunny spring morning set the stage for an unforgettable tour of several downtown Milwaukee’s brewery sites.  With Kalvin at the helm of a full coach bus, Leonard Jurgensen as the Milwaukee Brewery Historian and myself as archaeological tour guide, we made our way to one of Milwaukee’s first brewery sites.

Begun in 1840/41 by three Welshmen, known as the Milwaukee Brewery and then the Lake Brewery, it is now home to the Milwaukee Co. Transit bus garage, with a rooftop garden.  It was on this rooftop garden with a commanding view of Lake Michigan, where we sampled a special brew I made in commemoration of the occasion called “Old World Welsh Ale”.  This is an all-grain strong ale with hints of smoked barley, in the style of a Scotch Ale meets a British Bitter.  Although a little young, it was packed with flavor and reminiscent of the kinds of ales brewed on that site as early as 170 years ago!

Now called the Mackie Building: 225 Michigan St. Milwaukee

Stop two brought us to the Milwaukee Grain Exchange building, on Michigan St. designed by the esteemed architect Edward Townsend Mix and completed in 1879.  For more than 50 years preceding WWII, this building with its ornately decorated Victorian interior was where the global price of wheat was set.  The opulent three-story trading room is a testimony to Milwaukee’s industrial and agricultural wealth during this period and how the brewing industry as a result benefited from this global commodity exchange.

1891 Lithograph of Brewery

Continuing on to the Blatz Brewery complex (1846-1959), which has been converted into condominiums, we disembarked from the bus and walked the perimeter of the complex to get a sense of the exterior features of the former brewery.  While the original brew house is now gone, we stood on the spot of where the massive kettles once stood and marveled at the immense size of this former brewery.

Adapted from a photo by Dan Lenz

On our way to our next stop at Lakefront Brewery, we went by another former brewery site, the Ogden Brewery (SW corner of Broadway and Ogden) which apparently may have intact lager cellars beneath the hill.  As we eventually arrived along Commerce St. and to the front door of Lakefront Brewery, Jim Klisch (former owner and co-founder of Lakefront Brewery) welcomed us in while Russ Klisch (president and co-founder of the brewery) poured each participant a fine micro-brewed beer of their choice.  After a brief history of the brewery, Jim led the group on a memorable tour of the facility, ripe with colorful commentary on the brewing process and insights into their “Frankenstein” brewing equipment.


Photo by Michael Lerret

Photo by Michael Lerret

By this time it was getting on towards 11:45 and we had lunch to get to at the Best Place in the historic Pabst Brewery.  This was not before we had a chance to see the remnants of the old beer rail line outside Lakefront Brewery, as well as the former sites of the Gipfel Brewery (1843-1894) on the SW corner of 4th and Juneau  and the Eagle Brewery (1842-1866) on the NW corner of 8th and Highland.

We entered the ongoing redevelopment of the Pabst Brewery complex in time for our lunch at Best Place and were greeted by Jim Haertel, owner and developer of the former offices of Captain Frederick Pabst.  While inside the beautifully fresco-ed rathskeller, we ate a fine catered lunch while washing it down with, what else, but Pabst Blue Ribbon.  After a brief history of the brewery by Jim, the group were given a guided tour of the undeveloped section of the building, including Captain Pabst’s office.


Reflection of Best Place, Brew House Kettles, Grain Elevator

From here we were led out into the brewery grounds by Michael Murvis and Dan McCarthy who represent Towne Investments that are overseeing the redevelopment of the brewery complex.  Mike and Dan were very kind to show us through a handful of buildings on the property, including the bottling plant, the Methodest church, the brew house and finally the observation room above the newly renovated home of Cardinal Stritch University.

By far, this intimate insight into the enormity of brewing at this site was a true highlight of the tour, particularly seeing the massive copper kettles inside the brew house, which we were told will remain intact and some day soon will be incorporated into the lobby of a grand hotel.

After the bus pulled out of the Pabst Brewery complex, we were off to visit the site of the former Cream City Brewery (1853-1937)  located on the NE corner of 13th and Cherry.  While the horse stables built in 1910 are still intact, sadly all that remains is a parking lot.  Our local brewery historian, Leonard Jurgensen, shared a personal story of playing inside this brewery as a child when it sat vacant for many years.

Greg Walter explaining brewing process

Our tenth location of the day was across I43 at the Leinenkugel’s 10th St. Brewery, where Gregory Walter, master brewer and facility manager met us for a tour of his brewery.  As the group were treated to a newly brewed yet-to-be released “mystery beer” in the hospitality room, Greg gave an overview of Leinenkugel’s history and the recent merger with Miller-Coors.  Next we were guided into the brewery where we got to see their state-of-the-art operation that is rarely viewed by the public.

1886 Sangurbund p.70

Next it was on to the oldest complete standing brewery structure in Milwaukee, the E.L. Husting Brewery (1877-1933), whose name is still embossed along an upper cornice of the cream city brick building, which incidentally is now home to Great Lakes Archaeological Research Center (a former employer of mine).   A block away on the NW corner of 5th and Cherry is the recently demolished site of the J. Obermann Brewery.  Prior to the tour, I used ground penetrating radar around the perimeter to determine if the sub-cellars were still detectable, as it turned out they were, some 10 feet below street level.

Tower and Brewery Sign

Finally, our final stop would be the Schlitz Brewery complex.  Pulling along side the former stables, one can still see the horse head carvings and stable sign.  Then we pulled into the brewery along side the wash house where we disembarked and made our way into the old Brown Bottle bar, which is now home to Libiamo Restaurant where the group were treated to a bottle of Schlitz each.  Taking these out into the courtyard we were able view into the brew house windows, though because of the dangerous state of the interior we were unable to access the interior.  Leonard gave a nice historical overview of the brewery, as he is the eminent scholar on the brewery’s history and is also owner of one of the largest private collections of Schlitz brewania, including a fully restored Schlitz Beer Wagon.

As the sun lowered on the horizon we boarded the bus one last time bound for DISCOVERY WORLD where we began our day more than 8 hours before and after visiting eleven brewery sites along the way. Much like the 19th hole in golf, the twelfth brewery stop for this tour was the after party at the Milwaukee Ale House where several participants met for more laughter and a well earned meal washed down with more unique locally-fermented beverages.

Photo by Michael Lerret

I think I can speak for all in that this was a momentous tour of Milwaukee’s proud brewery history and one that will certainly be repeated at a later date.  In fact, a similar-styled historic brewery tour of Milwaukee’s south side will take place on July 10th.  Stay tuned for more details on that tour!

Exploring Milwaukee’s Historic Breweries

Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing

“Milwaukee is today the acknowledged queen of the world in lager beer, the name being familiar in every country, civilized or uncivilized; and her sway universally acknowledged.”  (The Sentinel: July 31, 1892)


This urban archaeology expedition of Milwaukee’s Brewing history will begin at Discovery World  at 9am on Saturday April 17th before boarding a coach bus to explore several of Milwaukee’s downtown brewing gems.  This Distant Mirror adult program is designed to bring the general public into contact with Milwaukee’s brewing history by accessing a variety of locations/facilities associated with the production and consumption of beer.  This includes visiting the locations of former breweries within the Milwaukee area, as well as the infrastructure associated with the brewing industry such as warehouses, stables, rail systems, etc.  Moreover, this expedition will visit modern breweries currently in operation, to tour the facilities, sample their beer and meet head Brewmasters.  Space is limited to the first 50 people to sign up, so don’t wait or the beer bus will leave with out you!!

DOWNTOWN BREWING HISTORY TOUR

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

All Day

$75 members of Discovery World | $85 non-members of Discovery World

Fee includes transportation, beer samples, lunch, and more.

Start time:

9:00am – Discovery World welcome, overview, and bus departure.

5:00pm – Return to Discovery World

Scheduled stops:

Milwaukee Grain Exchange, Blatz Brewery, Lakefront Brewery, Pabst Brewery (tour of brew house), Schlitz Brewery, Leinenkugel’s 10th St. Brewery, as well as the former sites of Lake Brewery, Gipfel Brewery, Eagle Brewery, Cream City Brewery, and  J. Obermann Brewery.

Featuring:

Catered Lunch at the Pabst Brewery with an after party at the Milwaukee Ale House.

Call 414.765.8609 for more information

Coming later this summer…Southside Brewing History Tour

Check back at www.discoveryworld.org for details.

80 Year Old Shipwreck Yields New Information

Car ferry underway ca. 1920s
Car ferry underway ca. 1920s

The year was 1929 and a tremendous late October storm was howling out of northern Lake Michigan. Dozens of ships labored to find safety in ports across the lake, however,  some chose to fight the storm and cross the 76 mile breadth of tumultuous seas between Wisconsin and Michigan. One such captain, aptly known as “Heavy Weather” McKay, made the decision to make a run for Grand Haven, MI from Milwaukee WI and risk his crew of around 50 men and his cargo of some 25 railroad cars loaded with Kohler bathtubs, Nash automobiles, barley, cheese, feed, canned peas, among other goods.

At 3:45pm on October 22nd, the 338 foot long car ferry SS Milwaukee of the Grand Trunk Railroad Company was spotted by the crew of the U.S. Lightship 95, a ship anchored 3 miles offshore serving as a lighthouse. They reported the SS Milwaukee to be pitching and rolling heavily as it disappeared into the storm heading east as 20 foot waves crashing over her steel hull.  This would be the last sighting of the car ferry before her remains were discovered on April 14th  1972 by legendary shipwreck hunters, Kent Bellrichard, John Steele and Roger Chapman in over 100 feet of water three miles off Fox Point, WI.

Divers Exploring the SS Milwaukee
Divers Exploring the SS Milwaukee

As part of this years ROV Days, our third expedition to the wreck in as many years was mounted on July 20th-21st 2009, where we brought students and the public to this local maritime landmark aboard Discovery World’s tall ship the S/V Denis Sullivan, under the command of captain Tiffany Krihwan.  One of the main objectives of this seasons expedition was to employ sophisticated imaging technology to continue documenting the wreck site, using Remotely Operated Vehicles, Sector Scanning Sonar and with SCUBA divers in the water to photograph and map the wreck using conventional underwater archaeology methods.  In addition to on board education about the history of the SS Milwaukee, the passengers were able to see and participate in legitimate underwater archaeology research from the deck of a replica 19th century three-masted schooner.

ROV's explore the wreck site
ROV’s explore the wreck site

The Remotely Operated Vehicle used in this research was a VideoRay ROV, piloted by Patrick Rowe of Midwest ROV. Patrick was able to fly throughout the wreck and even enter confined spaces that were previously not recorded. Gauging by the excited reactions of those watching the wreck below us, it was a tremendous thrill and unique opportunity for the non-diving public to access this submerged cultural resource, which would otherwise be inaccessible.   The hours of ROV footage that has been recorded on this wreck provides an excellent archive of visual material to make sense of the wreck site and to document its slow decay as time goes by.

Sector Scan Sonar mosaic of  the wreck  and debris field

The Sector Scanning Sonar equipment was brought from Michigan by the Nautilus Marine Group led by Brian Abbott and David Thompson. This scanning system uses high resolution sonar technology to imaging the wreck site while sitting in a tripod on the lake bottom. By changing the placement of the tripod and the range to be scanned (30-200 foot radius) a shipwreck like the SS Milwaukee can be mapped in a matter of hours. We were able to get several very good scans of the wreck site, which picked up debris around the wreck that was previously unknown. The advantage of this system is that anomalies can be measured to the centimeter both in terms of overall size, but also how far off the bottom they are.  These data have resulted in the most detailed map of the shipwreck site to date.

Kevin Cullen (left) and Kimm Stabelfeldt (right) drawing the wreckage
Kevin Cullen (left) and Kimm Stabelfeldt (right) drawing the wreckage

Finally, by actually diving down to the stern (back end) of the wreck allowed for a more vivid interaction with the wreck by measuring specific features, such as the car deck (30′ diameter) each propeller measured 12’8″ in diameter, a car tire at the stern had an overall diameter of 2’5″. This sea gate measured 5′ in height, but was likely not high or thick enough to withstand the incredible force of the swamping waves, which resulted in bending the gate in and thus flooding the crews quarters at the stern of the ship. After scraping away a two inch layer of zebra mussels, a large crack measuring 1’8″  was noted running down the port hull where the sea gate was attached. Based on this evidence and the crumpled state the sea gate is in as it hangs off the stern, it now seems probable that some of the railroad cars came loose smashed through the sea gate. In fact the remains of a railroad car can be seen beneath the enormous propellers, which tells us it sank to the bottom before the ship sank and landed right on top of it.

All together, this years human and technological “eyes in the deep” resulted in new information about the demise of the SS Milwaukee and current state of preservation. Moreover, by engaging the public in expeditions of this nature, it no doubt fosters a greater appreciation for our collective maritime history, while bringing awareness to the thousands of shipwrecks throughout the Great Lakes. It is because of these underwater museums that we owe a debt of gratitude to, for their efforts in fueling the growth of the American economy.

Read more coverage by Stan Miller of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published July 31st in the Cue Section

http://www.jsonline.com/features/technology/52088367.html