Monday, November 30, 2015

New Mountains to Climb

"You have had your joke, and alarmed or offended most of your relations, and given the whole Shire something to talk about for nine days, or ninety-nine more likely.  Are you going any further?"

"Yes, I am.  I feel I need a holiday.  a very long holiday, as I have told you before.  Probably a permanent holiday; I don't expect I shall return.  In fact, I don't mean to, and I have made all the arrangements."

"I am old, Gandalf.  I don't look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts.  Well-preserved indeed!' he snorted. 'Why I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean:  like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.  That can't be right.  I need a change, or something."

"Gandalf looked curiously and closely at him. 'No, it does not seem right,' he said thoughtfully.  'No, after all I believe your plan is probably the best.'"

"'Well, I've made up my mind, anyway.  I want to see mountains again, Gandalf-mountains"

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Coming for 2016....high chair.

Projected for 2017 and table.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Folly in the North Woods?

In the UK you run across what are called "Follies".  Strictly speaking they are structures that are not actual dwelling places, but are simply decorative touches.  Fake Greek Temples, fake ruins, faux castles.

Driving in northern Wisconsin I was surprised to see this:

I can't tell from the road if this is an actual "castle" or just a house with an extended false front and some turrets.

Certainly odd.  Possibly Folly.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tell Wisconsin

Any rural area that has been settled for a while has its share of oddly named little communities. Recently while on my way elsewhere I passed through Tell, Wisconsin.

The basic societal unit in Wisconsin contains at least one tavern, two churches (one Catholic, one Protestant) and a post office.

Tell falls a bit short.

Of course there is a tavern.

This was 10:30 am, a bit early even for Wisconsinites to need a nip.

Only one church.  And as you can see below, it is not much of a "going concern" these days.

But marvelously the graveyard did contain a nice "newer" variant of a Tree Shaped Tombstone. Understated but well executed I thought.

Since Tell is near the heavily Swiss community of Alma I am assuming that the name is homage to William Tell.  As to whether any of the citizens of this little place would "tell" on you if you misbehaved, I suspect you would be fairly safe.  The church, the tavern, a few houses....I did not see a living soul about.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Does Whatever a Spider Can

It is difficult to sew up lacerations on small children.  Oh, in the bad old days we would just hold them down, but that is really not a very kind thing to do.  Besides, it tends to sour them on the medical system generally and if you give a kid a horrible experience you are just making life so much harder for the next doctor who has to treat him.

You can medicate kids.  We have some short acting stuff that makes them pretty silly and happy, and gives a temporary amnesia for any discomfort they may experience.  But so called "concious sedation" involves a lot of paper work and a small element of risk.  I do it when necessary but only then.

Most of the time you can get by with showmanship.

There is a topical anesthetic gel that works pretty well on the thin skin of kids; if you can get it on there and keep it held in place for a half hour or more.  I like this stuff a lot.  Sometimes you can get a parent to put on a glove and hold it in place.  Other times, like a two year old I had recently, the injury is a place like the forehead where you can hold the cotton ball in place with an elastic "Ninja Turtle head band".  I have actually learned the names and distinctive color schemes of all four Turtles.

Then it is simply a matter of getting the first stitch in successfully.  Kids are smart and realize that if the first one did not hurt the rest will also be ok.

Lately I have started telling the kids that my Secret Identity is:  Spider Man.

One of my ID badges had a photo that faded prematurely so I put a Spider Man sticker over it and just kept it when I got my new one.  It makes a sort of Kid Logic....he has a Secret Identity badge and he has Spider Man web material that he is going to use to fix the owie.  You just need them intrigued by the possibility for long enough to get the job done.

Ah, but we live in suspicious times, we do.  So to persuade the young doubters I sometimes have to take the special marker we use for drawing on skin and do this:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Forgotten Brewery Caves - A Closer Look in Chippewa Falls

Chippewa Falls has a nice brewery cave in their local park.  It was the first such cave I studied and since then I have learned quite a lot on this subject.  Recently I went back for another look.

My first post on Chippewa Falls is here.

Here is the entrance to the cave.

The initial user of the cave was a man named F.X. Schmidmeyer.  I have done quite a bit of research on this fellow, a three part series that starts HERE.  In short, Schmidmeyer started the first brewery in town in the mid to late 1850s and purchased the land you see here in 1871.  His earlier storage cave appears to have been obliterated.

Schmidmeyer did not have to start from scratch when digging his new cave, there was an existing niche or cave to expand.  Not far away we see another example:

Layers of stone tend to be put down in specific strata, and caves are often located where water erosion has exposed softer stone under a harder layer.

Schmidmeyer used the cave for something just under a decade.  The business faltered in the late 1870s and was sold at auction in 1881.  His main competitor the Leinenkugel Brewery was right up the street from this cave site and appear to have taken it over.  How long they used it is not certain, but most breweries of any consequence got mechanical refrigeration systems starting in the mid 1880s.  And as this would have been a somewhat inconvenient overflow storage from their own caves I suspect it was not used continuously.

In 1906 this cave and the land it was on became part of Irvine Park, named after the local businessman who donated much of it.  The cave was near the bear den which was the first part of the Irvine Park zoo, established in 1909.  Local lore aside I can't find evidence that bears were ever lodged in this cave.  In fact they would be able to hide out in the back and be invisible, which would hardly please visitors.  Also there is  a continuous flow of water in the cave from a natural spring. Great for cooling beer.  Likely to make your bears soggy and unhealthy.  No, I think the cave has always been just a local curiosity.

The cement pad you can see leading into the cave is a bit of a puzzle.  I suppose it could be a loading platform for wagons to unload kegs, but the cave proper is too low for them to enter.  And the pad only goes about 1/3 of the way back.  beyond there it is rough, damp rocks.  I was hoping to see the remains of bars, representing a bear enclosure, but the cement is entirely smooth.

And, the cement is in several layers.  As you can see below this has been revised several times, the most recent date being far too new for a bear enclosure (the bear pens are next door, and while empty now are certainly many decades old).

There is even a layer of old metal in there.

Here we have documentation of the most recent cement work.

So, while you can't entirely discount other theories, I think the evidence here supports the cement pad being nothing more than a safe footing area for park visitors.  Back when this end of the park was more visited this would have been a nice shelter for a picnic, or a retreat from bad weather.

The sign board outside the cave claims that the hole in the ceiling was to lower down kegs of beer. I think this is unlikely.

I have seen too many vent holes in brewery caves to consider this to be anything else.  There are no remains up above of any platform or structure.  And while I have had the opportunity to go over Schmidmeyers actual inventory  and know that he was using some small 1/8 barrel kegs, the standard sized barrels would never fit down a hole this size.  And really, why bother with all that when you have a nice road leading up to the cave entrance?

Of the other reported features of the cave I could find nothing.  In particular I hunted for evidence of the iron gate that supposedly closed off the entrance from unauthorized withdrawals.  But I could see no anchoring points in the walls or roof, and anything down on the floor is covered under layers of cement.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mrs. Julius Anklum goes out on the Town

One of my earliest posts in the Forgotten Brewery Cave series went by the fanciful title "The Cave of the Mad Poetess".  It recounted the eccentric doings of a certain Maude Phillips, poet, suffragette, adulteress and at least for a while in the winter of 1917, occupant of this former brewery cave overlooking the river in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Little did I know that the history of this particular cave featured another eccentric female scofflaw, the redoubtable Mrs. Julius Anklum.

While running through on line newspaper archives in search of more clues on brewery caves I ran across this rather remarkable 1905 entry:

A Scene in Municipal Court

In municipal court this morning Judge Gilbertson presiding, Mrs. Julius Anklum, who was found dead drunk in the old beer vault or cave near the Eau Claire river last Saturday afternoon, was given 15 days in jail in lieu of the $15.50 fine which she could not pay.

She was brought into court at 9 o'clock this morning and was still unsteady.  She wore an old shawl and hat which have become familiar on the street.

"Charged with being drunk and disorderly," said the judge.  "Guilty or not guilty?"

"Guilty", she responded.

"Fined $15.50" said the judge.

"Can't pay any fine", replied Mrs. Anklum.

"Fifteen days in jail", said the judge.

"Please judge", she said, "I'll get right out of town today and won't bother you any more."

"You've told us that a thousand times before.  You'll go and get drunk again as soon as you're out", said Chief of Police Higgins.

"No, honest I won't.  I want you to take my word for it.  I'll go right out of town, out on a farm where I will work.  I want to leave Jule," reiterated the woman.

"I think we had better send you to state prison to get rid of you", said the judge.

"I won't go to state prison.  I never killed nobody. I never did anybody any harm.  Honest, I'll get out of town.  I have been working a few days lately and got a little money but Jule stole it from me and got drunk"

(various other details are omitted for brevity here)

"If it hadn't been for Jule I'd never have drank", continued Mrs. Anklum.  "He got me drinking.  No judge, please let me go.  I'll go right out to my father's farm.  He wants me to come.  When I married Jule I had a big farm but now I have nothing.  Please let me go."

Eventually the Long Arms of the Law had to drag her from the courtroom and not without difficulty as she had a strong grip on the ornamental railing.

Of Mrs. Anklum's later legal antics I can report that a 1906 newspaper article titled Mrs. Anklum is Back, relates a sadly similar tale.

And what about her husband Julius, familiarly but not affectionately referred to as "Jule"?

With various spelling variations I think I have traced his life for nearly three unhappy decades.

1891  Eau Claire.  Julius Anklam fined $3 for use of abusive language after getting into a fight with a fellow masonry worker.  Details not specified but oddly the article mentions that his "wife deserted him some months ago at a Saturday night party for a handsome man."

1895  Eau Claire.  Julius Anklam is arrested when his team of horses runs into a horse that was watering at a trough.  In effect, a traffic accident with a parked "vehicle".  The horse he hit broke a leg and had to be killed.

1898  Fall Creek.  Julius Anklum arrested for selling mortgaged livestock and property.

1918.  St. Louis Minnesota.  The body of Julius Anklum, watchman, is found in the ruins of the Toro Motor company the day after a fire that destroyed the building.  Note: there actually is no community by the name given in the newspaper article.  As the Toro Motor company was headquartered in Minneapolis at this point in time, I suspect the fatal fire may have occurred in a suburb called St. Louis Park....unless the proof readers were having a really bad day, as Toro's main factory was in St. Paul.

Of Mrs. Julius Anklum's later career I have found nothing more.  It seems a shame that we don't even know her first name.

Addendum:  While browsing newspaper records I came across an article that went into more detail regarding the arrest of Mrs. Anklum in the beer cave.  I quote from same with apologies for the somewhat mean spirited tone of it:

The Corpse Was the Tripple Extract of Alcohol and Did Not Need the Coroner

"There's a dead woman in the beer vault!" was the startling information brought to No. 2 Hose House by some boys yesterday, during the dinner hour.

"What!" said Fire Chief Eldridge.  

"A dead woman! She's in the beer vault!" said the boys. "She was found by some girls from the Linen Mill." they added.

Hurry up messages were flashed to the county jail.  Messengers were sent to the police.  The coroner was notified and an exodus of officials, city and county, was in progress to the old beer vault on the banks of the Eau Claire river, some distance beyond the Linen Mill.

(evidently the girls had been picking flowers when they noticed a woman stretched out and not moving on the floor of the cave)

.....She presented a gruesome sight,her clothing was disarranged in the most startling manner.  They carried her out into the sunlight.  She showed signs of life.

"She's dead---drunk!" was the verdict of the assemblage.

"She's Jule Anklum's wife," said others.

(a search of the cave showed no sign of Jule.  Mrs. A. was taken off to jail and the Coroner and sundry officials left in a huff, having been called out for no good reason)

Mrs. Anklum is the condensed extract of three barrels of alcohol, and her hubby is the straight stuff. The Anklums live on Madison street, near McDonough, and their carrying on has scandalized the neighborhood.  The stories are sensational in the extreme - the Anklums have no blinds on their windows, and the sights keep the neighbors in constant indignation.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Forgotten Brewery Caves - A neighborhood considerably aroused !

Make no mistake, the greater part of hunting brewery caves is scrambling up and down hillsides getting bitten by bugs.  But you can make the hunt a little easier, and more productive, by doing your home work first.  While doing just that I came across this interesting little tale from The Burlington Hawkeye of July 19th, 1923.  For those not from around these parts, Burlington is in Iowa.


A nude moron, such as created a furor in Des Moines a year ago, left terror among the residents in the neighborhood of Central Avenue and Division Street after he appeared in broad daylight yesterday afternoon.

A man who had removed his clothes in the high weeds to the south of Division Street and West of Central Avenue was seen by a woman of the neighborhood from her yard at 12:30 yesterday afternoon.

Terror stricken, the woman screamed and several men on their way home from work who were attracted by her cries took after the man.  They pursued him into a heavy growth of weeds but after a thoro (sic) search were unable to locate him.

The moron apparently found a hiding place in the heavy vegetation at the beginning of a hollow which runs southwest from the corner and carries a sewer.

One resident who lives nearby ventured a belief that the man hid in an old brewery cave located to the east of the sewer and south of Aetna Street.

J.A. Hawkins 210 Central Avenue said that he saw the nude moron immediately after the woman screamed.  Mr. Hawkins had just arrived home and he stated that he saw the man's naked form as he bent over and ran swiftly through the weeds apparently carrying his clothes.

"He had about a half block head start and ran like a jack rabbit" Mr. Hawkins said.  "I called another neighbor and we looked all through the weeds but they are so thick he must have found a hiding place, because no on seems to have seen any more trace of him."

The neighborhood was considerably aroused by the advent of the man, who is believed to be either demented or a degenerate.  The residents did not notify the police, but kept watch during the day thinking that he might return and they would be able to capture him.

Well, quite a tale.  Now lets try to pin a few things down.

This is from an 1870s map of Burlington.  The arrow is pointing at 210 South Central Street, where the intrepid Mr. Hawkings resided.  If we take south of Division Street and West of Central Avenue to be close enough on our location, the arrow is actually right about where the "naked moron" made his appearance.  The green area extending southwest is no doubt the weed choked "hollow" that carried the sewer in the 1920s.  On this map you see Maiden Lane...this was later renamed Aetna, so the brewery cave should be between it and Elm and somewhere on the right hand - eastern - edge of the green area.

The same area today on Google Maps:   Burlington

As you can see, the entire area where the terrified woman's house may have been is now a Walgreens drug store and its associated parking lot.  And Mr. Hawkin's house is under a Video rental store.  Or perhaps was, these places have not done so well in recent years.  The ravine still looks fairly weedy, a good guess as to the cave location would be somewhere out behind the "Union Gospel Church Full Gospel Fellowship".

It is a little hard to tell which brewery this cave would have been associated with.  Burlington was a very early town in Iowa and had more than its share of brewers.  My prime suspect is a man named Charles Mueller.  He established the first brewery in Burlington back in 1849.  His location at 869 Jefferson was about five blocks away, not an unreasonable distance to haul beer for off site storage. But there were several other less well documented breweries that may have taken advantage of this convenient location just at the edge of City Limits and local law jurisdiction.

Perhaps somebody will take a stroll down the ravine and report back to me?

Watch out for naked morons.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

MBB Post Event Pictures

As promised some pix from our Machines Behaving Badly event.  It went quite well.  I would say that the kids had better driving skills this year and so were able to avoid arena hazards better than in some past years.  This kept visits to Robot Hospital and Robot Cemetery under control.

Atypically the robots with powered weapons did well.  Usually the final matches are mostly boring pushers and wedges.

A few images and comments.

Stuff flying

Sometimes we let kids volunteer to drive robots, for instance in situations where a student could not be at the event but wanted his robot to be there.  This kid in the orange shirt was around five I figure.

For later matches in the "non winners" side of the tournament bracket we just tossed in four at a time. It made for more interesting interactions.  Note that the arena floor is now littered with small bits of robots.  The Pit opens half way through the match.

The arena has its own fluorescent lighting.  This plus reflections off the impact resistant Lexan walls makes for some odd photo effects.  Here you can see the arena and its reflection.  Note also my shirt with the Machines Behaving Badly Official Minion logo.  The "stuff" in the picture is an array of drop hazard items.  Basically when a robot is foolish enough to drive underneath an audience member hits a switch that lets fly various items.  We go for both Insult and Injury, hence the TeleTubby, the bowling trophy and the saw blade.  Oh, also an anvil.  In homage to Coyote-Roadrunner it has the word ACME written on it.

The arena walls are pretty safe, that's why we allow kids to get up close.  This nose to the glass younger fan is pretty into the proceedings.

Farewell until next year.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Machines Behaving Badly - 2015

The annual 3 pound combat robot tourney is tomorrow.  Two dozen hyperactive middle schoolers with destructive robots.  Heh, what could possibly go wrong.

I will put up a few pictures of some of the more outre designs in a moment, but first a few thoughts.

I have been doing this for a long, long time.  Fifteen years I think.  And I have seen quite a few changes.

In the early years the kids were fans of "Battlebots" which was on TV back then.  We would discuss trying to build miniature versions of their favorite full scale combat robots.  Later they were fans of "Mythbusters".  I would ask the kids if they were "Adams" or "Jamies".  We usually had a mixture.

Now the kids just want to play Minecraft on their smart phones.

This has in some ways been a challenging group of students.  With of course some marvelous exceptions, many of them are just not as enthusiastic about robots as in years past.  Perhaps I have not changed quickly enough with the times, although I have made gradual tech upgrades over the years. Now kids can  opt for a real programming class instead of my DIY robotics class.  Or, heck, they can buy a camera toting drone on Amazon for a ridiculously low price.

Well, nothing stands still, and I am actively pondering changes for next year.  Smaller classes?  Next step or two up in technology?  We shall see.

But on to the robot warriors of 2015.

I think I showed this one earlier but without its very nice paint job.

Sometimes I toss out a few new components, thinking that kids will pick them up and do something interesting with them.  These yellow and black RC car motor/wheel combos are cheap and a tempting alternative to servos.  This kid had built a nimble little speedster that used them.  Then he took it home and fashioned a big heavy shell around it.  It is sluggish at best.  I will suggest on the morning of the event that we might swap in two more motors to up the power a bit.

Most robots with weapons can be safely tested outside the protective arena.  Not this monstrosity. The spinning weapon blade can be raised and lowered by action of a servo.  The question is whether the whole weapon assembly blows up on the first, second or third hit...

Two robots with spinning saw blades.  Low rpms but a ton of torque.  The one on the left has better survival odds as the electronics are stowed inside an old VCR case.  In fact the entire robot is a VCR case and a Barbie Jeep gearbox with a saw.  The blue wheels on the other robot are from a "swim noodle".

Nice shiny new metal ramps.  I look forward to some vigorous denting and grinding.

OK, now this is an odd ball.  The idea is to get another robot to slide up the ramp where the spinning blade will repeatedly wallop it while it gets thrown up and over.  I have never seen this attempted before.  It seems implausible but if it works it would not be the first successful mutant design over the last decade and a half....

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

FIRST Robotics - A Practice Run.

Well, alright.  With a variety of things falling into place all at once it was clearly time to start a FIRST Robotics team at our high school.

We have a pool of students from the ongoing middle school robotics programs.  We have a great work space.  We have funding, albeit on a somewhat spartan level so far.  But compared to what has been possible at the middle school level with much less, it should suffice.

But how do you know if you have a realistic shot at pulling off a rather complicated program?  Or to put it another way, the parts look good but is the sum of them more or less than expected?

So we had a "Mock Challenge".

The FIRST competition involves robots working together in a team setting.  They have limited time to perform complex tasks using a scoring system that allows considerable variation in how one approaches it.  The robots have to be built with a specified, provided "kit of parts" and are constructed entirely in a six week build season.

So on a Saturday we got the recruits together.  A hoard of robotics components was dumped in front of them.  The "game" involved robots stocking a grocery store with variable points allowed for different sized and weighted items, and for putting things up onto the higher shelves.  Instead of six weeks we gave them four hours to build a pair of machines.  This seems fair, we used a lot of scrap lumber and duct tape, and many of the components were already partially assembled from prior middle school projects.  Besides, this is more an exercise in how they work together and solve problems than a real attempt at building top notch machines.  That will come later....

A lot of things happened.

The Media and Graphics group created logos for our early sponsors and filmed a "demo reel" video for future ones.

The Software group murmured digitally in 1's and 0's, speaking in cybernetic tongues alien to me.

And the Build team built two machines, each with their own solution to the grocery shelf stocking challenge.  Here are some pictures.

Quite a lot of work going on.

This is the grocery shelf where the robots tried to pick items up.

Oops. The box of macaroni and cheese is hitting the deck.  The egg already is down for the count. The can of soup is looking good so far, but too many items got dropped once they were well on their way to the destination shelves.

The above robot used a noose type grabber.  The second machine had a movable set of grippers.

Until they broke of course.  A magnet was swapped in.  Worked well for canned goods.  Paper towels, not so much.

Ha! A can of soup makes it onto the fourth shelf!

Robots can't entirely be trusted.  An attempt at cell phone theft.

A fun session, I think the students show promise.  Of course building with plywood and duct tape is one thing.  We will have to wait and see how they do with the serious build.  And lets hope their driving skills improve!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Pigs n Pubs

On a recent road trip here in Wisconsin I detected something of a theme...

The last one in particular is a little disconcerting.  The glowing red eyes, the pallor and the tux make our porcine friend look a bit Mephistophelian.

You might think that pigs and drinking would naturally be associated.  The former being something of an archetype for over consumption.  But in the UK where pubs are numerous and of long heritage I have to say that pigs are not over represented in the names. In fact, among the top ten pub names we find Red Lion, White Hart and various shades of Swan.

Here in the US there is a complicated association of pigs with illegal, after hours or Prohibition area tippling houses.  "Blind Pigs" as they have been called.  An eclectic discussion of the phrase Blind Pig and its related name Blind Tiger can be found here. Maybe the association has carried over into more enlightened times.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Tree Shaped Tombstones - Inadvertent Puns

There are some things you can't really change.  Death for instance.

There are some things you could change with difficulty but would be unlikely to.  Your last name for instance.

But there are a few things you and your heirs presumably have discretion over.  Style of tombstone for instance.

This pun is clear and avoidable.

This one would be harder to avoid, perhaps they were just banking on very few people knowing that the Manes were ancient Roman spirits of the underworld, as recalled in the common Roman funerary inscription DM ( "for the Manes", or Dis Manibus for you non Romanists).

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

In the shadow of the Monolith

At work we switched over to a new software system.  This is supposed to be the industry leader; the electronic medical record system that all ERs should use.


It does some things better than the old system.  And some things less well.  The transition has been challenging.  I think The Powers that Be were getting a little frustrated with our slow pace of adopting this modern marvel.

Because one day I showed up for my shift and found this:

Oh, you might not recognize it at first glance because it is tipped sideways.  But stop and think a moment.  A flat black rectangle that appears mysteriously.  Seem familiar?

Yep.  It is the mysterious monolith from the classic Sci Fi movie 2001 A Space Odyssey.  In case you never figured out the plot - for which you can be forgiven - it involves unseen high tech aliens placing these monoliths where primitive (and later advancing) Man will find them.  Exposure to the Monolith makes you smarter.

Later in the movie it all gets trippy and psychedelic.

And you know what?  As I watched the hypnotic screen saver images on our Monolith I actually did start to feel just a little smarter.  I think.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Forgotten Brewery Caves - Another in Alma (Wisconsin)

My tour of "Forgotten Brewery Caves" has already visited the delightful Mississippi River town of Alma Wisconsin.  But recently I got word of another preserved cave.  This would be from the second brewery in town.

It was established in 1864 by a J.A. Hunner.  It seems to have been located in a hotel, the "Old Wisconsin House". Although brewing on the premises of a hostelry has a long European tradition it was somewhat unusual in mid 19th century America.  One would imagine that the frequent fires associated with commercial breweries would be a disincentive.

The establishment was later taken over by a man named William Brueggeboos, and appears to have continued into about 1889.  Plat maps from the early 90s show it as a "former brewery" but without any attached hotel.  The Brueggeboos brewery was sometimes referred to as The Alma Brewery, but confusingly this name was later adopted by the surviving Hemrich brewery on the south end of town.

Here is the site today, a vintage gas station now without pumps and operating as a repair garage.

I stopped in and asked, and was told that, yes, there was a brewery cave.  To visit I had to go through a cluttered storage room, into the station's bathroom, then through a creaky wooden door into....

This is one of the more unusual cave entrances I have seen.  Here we have a ramp going down into the cave area.  The cinder block walls are obviously new.  But the ramp maybe not so new. I was told that in the post brewing era the area was used for ice storage.  A tunnel was actually built under Main street so that ice could be cut on the river and slid into the cave.  You really don't want to pick up cold, slippery, heavy blocks of river ice too often so I assume there was a sort of sledge and winch mechanism to get the ice this far, then it was slid down into the cave. Of late assorted junk has been allowed to pile up.  The ice tunnel, alas, is no more.

The owner of the station was cooperative enough but said he was going to lunch in ten minutes. So I had to sprint back to my vehicle for my camera and flash light.  I was only able to hastily snap a couple of pictures of the cave's recesses.

It is a good sized cave.  Various side passages suggested it was a natural cave that was enlarged for beer storage.

In this side passage there is some sort of cinder block stack.  I don't know what it was supporting.  I am not sure I want to know.

The architecture of this cave was odd, as the entrance used for ice storage was not the original one used for beer.  I got the feeling that the cave had significant side passages and connections but my brief survey did not allow me to map them out.

Having a brewery "in" a hotel seems dubious.  Not everyone likes the smell of fermenting beer. I got to wondering if perhaps the brewery was a separate structure on the hotel property.  The gas station is quite near to this vintage hotel, the Sherman House.

Although hotels often changed names I am pretty sure that this never was "The American House". The Sherman House was built a few years after the brewery began, in 1866.  It was named for General Sherman who was then at the height of his fame.  It's for sale now if anyone is interested.

Early frontier towns would have a surprising number of hotels and having two next door to each other would not be considered odd.  The American House seems to be long gone.
Later this week: A smarter monkey.  Also some punning tombstones.