Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Forgotten Brewery Caves - Highland Wisconsin

The little village of Highland is a very old community by Wisconsin standards.  It is down in Iowa County in the southwest corner of the state.  As such it was part of the lead mining boom with the area being inhabited - ah, that is by Europeans - as far back as the 1820s.  The village proper began about 1840 and of course a brewery came soon after.

A man named Jacob Gunlach built the first brewery, a log structure, in 1846.  The first beer was made the next year.

The location was not ideal so a new brewery closer to town was built in 1855.  It burned in 1862 with a replacement building going up on the foundations a year later.  The assorted owners of the enterprise are not perhaps of pressing concern but from the Civil War era on to its final closure in 1943 the Semrad Brothers were the proprietors.  

The later brewery has been demolished recently but this day our search was actually for the earlier one.  

When looking for a brewery site, here's a good clue....drive out Brewery Road and look along Brewery Creek!

Here my brother is again being distracted looking for bricks.  All he found were some generics.



When you start finding more bricks and begin to find broken 1890s bottle shards, you might be getting close....



By this point my boots had gotten full of water and sand so I was plodding upstream without having to worry too much about keeping dry. Hmmmm, I wonder if we are getting close?



Obviously these artifacts were not from the 1840s brewery but the later version was not far off. It appears that the creek was a favorite dumping spot for all sorts of cast off items.  

Soon I spied the early cave peeking out at me.



I have to say, this is the crappiest brewery cave I have found to date.  Small and half full of stagnant water.  Yuck.



This was just a bad site selection.  I wonder if the creek formerly ran in a much deeper bed because the floor of this cave is below the current water level.  No wonder they moved to a site on higher land after a few years.  I should think they lost a few barrels of product to spring flooding every year.

I can't imagine anybody would want to visit this one, but it is easy to find.  Highland Wisconsin. Go out of town on Brewery Street.  You don't have to go very far, just after the right angle turn there is a tiny road that crosses the creek going south.  The cave is on the south bank quite nearby.  A foundation that might be part of the original brewery - it burned in 1880 - is on the north bank.

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