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.  

No comments: