Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Forgotten Brewery Caves-Treampealeau, Wisconsin

Here is a nice summary from a 1937 article in the Galesville Republic:

Overlooking the river in Treampealeau stands a rambling old building which is one of the most interesting landmarks on the Upper Mississippi.  For seventy years, the place has been known as the Melchoir House.  Once it was a famous hostelry and brewery.  In days even before the Civil War, Jacob Melchoir stood in the doorway and waved greetings to the steamboat pilots as they steamed north to St. Paul or south to St. Louis.  Mr. Melchoir gave most of his time to the manufacture of beer, while his wife conducted the hotel.  Before the engine room was built the Melchoir brewing methods were primitive, the first batch of beer being made over the kitchen stove.  In the rear of the building, and extending into the bluff, Mr. Melchoir had three excavations made.  These caves were used as storage ripening rooms for the newly brewed beer.  Within time the temperature was fort-four degrees the year round.  These caves were seven or eight feet in height and were connected by passages made by widening a natural fault in the sandstone.  The two larger ones were ventilated by shafts dug through the earth and rock.  The entire building, excepting the wooden addition, also has caves underneath.  In fact, the place has, including the caves, more capacity underground than above..."

While on our August road trip my brother and I visited the site.  It stands pretty much as described;

The walls, or at least the front wall, stands tall on a road just north of town.  Peering inside you see:

The opening into a partly natural, partly man made system of caves.

Roots trailing down from above.  I wonder if the trough in the floor held ice?  And is that the ventilation shaft mentioned in the article, there in the ceiling right in the back of the cave?

There were actually several entrance points, perhaps this one went into the now vanished wooden portion of the brewery.

This site was nice and tidy, no spray paint, no garbage.  There did not seem to be a problem with a respectful visit, but as with all such sites, be an excellent citizen if you stop by.


Wes said...

It seems that the "respectful visits" don't seem to apply anymore. My GF and I went on a ghost hunting trip today to this spot and there was trash, graffiti carved into the walls and evidence of party goers all around. What a shame since, by the way, there are also ghosts there!
We got an EVP and the ghost spoke to us. Very cool spot!

Tacitus2 said...


I am disappointed indeed.

If you are looking for ghosts in breweries consider Black River Falls. I heard that back in the day there was one of those awful accidents where someone fell into the boiling brew kettle....ick.

I have been increasingly vague about the location of some brewery caves. But I suspect the party goers are mostly locals who have known such sites from way back.