Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Forgotten Brewery Caves - Ellsworth, Wisconsin

Ellsworth Wisconsin is a sleepy little place.  It was established just before the Civil War, and was renamed in honor of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, one of the first Union casualties of that conflict.

As you drive along Main street you see this off to the south:

These cover the entrances to brewery caves.  As seems often to be the case there are three of them, connected by cross passages.  They were standing open when I stopped for a look, so I did not think a brief visit was out of line.

For some reason the vaults and hallways are full of this odd scaffolding.  These would be worthless for support beams, and the cave in any case seems "rock solid".  It almost looks as if somebody had in mind to put walls up in there.

More of the same, with loose planks laying about.  An odd project that started building in a half dozen spots and finished none!

It has a sort of Old West gold mine look to it.  The green stuff in the distance is the moss/algae you often find in such places.

Way in the back we find a new wall of cinder blocks.  Somebody had an idea going here.

It is a rather pleasant location, right out front is a scenic little stream.

There is very little information about the brewery in Ellsworth.  It almost certainly predates the earliest reference I have found to date, which has it in operation in the mid 1890s and owned by a fellow named Julius Diebnow.

Overall the Ellsworth brewery cave is of fairly standard design, but it does have one interesting can buy it if you want to! Here is the real estate listing.  The asking price seems modest for this pretty little spot, but it should be noted that they want to sell it as a package deal with the house that stands nearby.
Addendum:  The half-hearted construction project inside these caves continues to intrigue me.  It looks a little too elaborate for a "Haunted Halloween" venue such as we saw in Hudson.  In fact for that you would probably want there to be cool exposed stone walls. No, this has more of the look of a failed Rec Room project.

I am disdainful of the modern term "Man Cave".  The implication of it is of a single room ghetto/quarantine ward where the grunting, malodorous Y-chromosome afflicted member of the household is to be contained.  Presumably freeing up the rest of the house for Scrapbooking, quilting and potted plants.

But if you were ever going to build a Man Cave that would meet with my approval, constructing it inside an actual cave might just be sufficient!


Michael Dunn said...


I actually know about these caves. I own the property and it is currently for sale. High exposure frontage to several state highways and the adjacent house/retail space/lot is for sale too. Both areas are zoned commercial and the single family dwelling is currently rented out to a young family.

About the caves - my dad owned the land prior to me and he was going to try to convert them to a possible storage area. That explains the scaffolding. (Man cave sounds more fun though!). He also used a steel semi trailer and converted it to a bridge to access the caves by vehicle. The area with the concrete block construction with the door was at one time, I believe, a storage area for civil defense items in the event of a disaster. I remember being in there one time back in the mid 70's and there were some 50 gallon drums for water and some water tight food containers both of which had civil defense emblems and labels indicating potable water and some king of preserved food - crackers or something like that. This was long after these items were still usable and the drums and containers were long since empty. Must have been used in the 50's for potential civil defense purposes. Way back when, the story is that the caves were used to store the beer produced at the brewery on site. The temperature in there stays really cool year round. In fact, the abstract to the property is a very interesting read. The property is referred to as the "brewery" property.

A very unique piece of land and history...and a lot of potential for someone with imagination or and entrepreneur. My parents ran a very successful business out of there for years up until the early 2000's. Anyone interested in learning more, or interested in making an offer for purchase, feel free to contact me.


Tacitus2 said...

Thanks for posting...your information fits my general impressions. This would seem to be the third brewery cave in the area re-purposed for civil defense. Stillwater for sure and I am told, Bloomer.
I am old enough to remember "duck and cover" drills in my elementary school. But not old enough at that time to appreciate the virtue of facing nuclear apocalypse with a beer in hand...or at least the memory of beer!

Best of luck finding a buyer, it is a little out of the way for me or I would be tempted. Thanks for preserving this bit of history.