Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Forgotten Brewery Caves - Stillwater, Minnesota

Stillwater is an interesting place.  Other than the military presence at Fort Snelling it was just about the earliest settlement in Minnesota.  And being right on the St. Croix river it had some nice bluffs for early brewery caves....

Alongside Main Street as it heads north out of town we find this stone wall with a bronze plaque at a wayside rest.  Looking closer we see...

This is near the site of "Tamarack House" the first settlement in the St. Croix Valley.  Joseph P. Brown built the log structure with the hope - never realized despite what the sign says - that it would be the first courthouse in the new Minnesota Territory.

The wall behind it is from the Knipps brewery which was established here in the 1860s.  It was a three, some sources say four, story building which of course had a cave.  You can see the cave a bit to the left of the historical plaque:

Nicely sealed up at some later date, the caves were said in 1870 to extend 60 feet back into the cliff, with plans to dig even deeper.

The Knipp brewery did not prosper, and the place was a private residence by the 1880s.

Oddly enough, as I drove back into Stillwater I noted another sealed up cave.  This one was right on the edge of downtown near Elm and North Main Street.

I could be wrong, but this looks to be too far from the Knipp brewery to be convenient to their use. There were two other major Stillwater breweries but they had their own caves which should make future appearances here.  So what was this?  One could always consider other uses for, mushroom cultivation, cheese.  But it has the look of a brewery cave.  One theory I put forward would be that it might be a storage cave for an obscure brewery called Haase and Hermann that was known to exist circa 1875.  More research will be necessary here as these stones tell no tales.

No comments: