Friday, June 27, 2014

Forgotten Brewery Caves - Mystery and Danger Part Two !

After our visit to the bi-level cave Dodge and I drove over to another small town.  It helps our hunting that each and every small burg had to have its own brewery in the 1850s and 60s.

What I knew about this site was that a small, walled off section of brewery cave existed in a building that had once been a saloon. And that the brewery was nearby.  Walking along the road in what I figured was the right place for the brewery I found this foundation:

After a while you just sort of know where you will find things.  And, about 10 feet away from this, fronting out onto the road, there was this:

At first glance you think: storm sewer.  But there is absolutely no reason for such a thing to be in this location.  The hill above has no structures of note on it.  The cement work on top of the tunnel mouth looks quite new, but when you peek inside a little ways...

That is old stone work.  Dodge stuck his hand up above the loose fill and could feel a cold draft. Clearly this was connected to something.  Earlier when looking for the brewery foundation he had found a broken shovel and figured this was a Sign.  Carefully he moved a little of the loose dirt.

A brick archway, very typical for a beer storage vault.  He even stuck his head and flashlight a little further in, but not for long. Brewery caves carved from good old St. Peter sandstone are, literally, rock solid.  This space was mostly filled with loose dirt and had a crumbly, insubstantial feel to it. Trust me, no matter how fascinating you find brewery caves you do not want to go into something that looks like this.

Theories?  The hillside did not have a proper, solid rock face to it.  I think this was a brick storage vault.  It looks, from the inside view and from a depression in the hillside, as if it has collapsed.  I do not think this connects with the small section of better quality cave in the building 100 yards away. Maybe that was dug as a replacement.   I also don't understand the cement.  Is it older than it looks?  It was used by the Romans you know.  Or was there some reason to reinforce this structure at a much later date.  A few brewery caves were pressed into service during the Cold War as Civil Defense shelters.

I would take my chances on whatever fox hole I could dig quickly in my own back yard.

Lets be smart in all matters of Exploration.

Addendum.  I should really read all my references before writing.  I actually have an explanation for the odd newer cement overlying the brick vault.  It turns out that the road there was a "new" one, built in 1920.  It went smack through the old brewery leaving only the little section of foundation that I encountered.  It obviously also cut into the brewery cave/vault and has mostly collapsed it.  There must have been enough water drainage from the remnant that an outlet was constructed.  My advice is the same if not stronger now.  Stay Out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're blog is great-- I've enjoyed reading it and am interested in learning more about some of the beer caves you've found. I'm a conservation biologist with the WI DNR's Bat Program and we are attempting to locate new bat hibernation sites within Wisconsin. Some of these sites are already known to host bats. I'm interested in working with you to learn more about new bat sites in order to survey for species & numbers, as well monitor the effects of White-nose syndrome on our bat population. We're very protective of location information with these sites in order to protect bats from disturbance-- I'd welcome the chance to communicate with you further off-line. Please contact me if you're willing to help: