Monday, September 9, 2013

Forgotten Brewery Caves - Reads Landing

Today we have a forgotten cave in a forgotten town.

Reads Landing got its start with an even earlier trading post, but can probably be thought of as existing as a community from 1850 when a post office was established.  It was quite the boom town for a while, there was even a thought that it might become the capitol of Minnesota Territory.

But as is so often the case, the boom went bust.  Reads Landing withered away, much assisted in this process by a succession of floods and by a railroad right of way that took out many of the buildings in town.  Now it is a one block main street, a brew pub, a couple of dozen houses.

Along the south side of Reads Landing runs a small waterway called Brewery Creek.  A Charles Leslie built a brewery here in 1856.  There seem to have been two breweries along the creek, a lower one in a wood frame building and an upper one of stone.  The stone brewery seems to have been a bit later, and I have seen reference to it being constructed by a Micheal Ulmer.

The entire complex was purchased by Gottfried Burkhardt when he returned from Civil War duty in 1865.  A substantial flood in 1883 seems to have put the lower brewery out of commission, so production was thereafter only in the upper facility.

Gottfried acquired another brewery in Menomonie Wisconsin (I am still looking for those caves!) and the Reads Landing site seems to have been run by other members of the Burkhardt family until it closed in 1912.  Evidently the early withering of Reads Landing as a community did not prevent the Burkhardt Brewery from doing fairly well.  They were after all just a couple miles north of Wabasha.

A couple of pictures from what I assume to be the ruins of the "upper brewery".

Along a windy road next to Brewery Creek we find the surviving back and side wall of a stone building:

And just off to one side, perhaps once within the structure or its outbuildings:

The caves from the "lower brewery" are probably also around somewhere.  It is said that the 1883 flood filled them to a depth of eight feet.  One imagines they would have filled in more over the long years.  But noting the sign above I do not think it prudent to nose about too much looking for them.

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