Historic Milwaukee South Side Tied House Tour

Exploring the Archaeology and Architecture of Milwaukee’s Historic South Side Saloons

By Kevin Cullen (Archaeologist: Discovery World, Milwaukee)

Discovery World’s seventh Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing Tour took place on Saturday April 20th as we explored the former brewery owned saloons known as “tied houses” on Milwaukee’s south side. Once again a full motor coach of enthusiastic adults rolled out at 10am, eager to learn about Milwaukee’s historic brewing industry that supported the many saloons built throughout the city.


From the beginning of Milwaukee’s history, the business of serving beer, spirits and wine to thirsty immigrants was a lucrative enterprise. As the city’s population increased, so too did the number of saloons.  In 1860 the city of Milwaukee’s population was 45,246 and the number of saloons in operation was 205.  By 1918, there were 1,980 saloons in Milwaukee, one per 230 residents. Consequently, the Volstead Act of 1919 that brought about Prohibition was detrimental to the cultural character of the city when nearly all of Milwaukee’s saloons were officially closed.

The Tied House Phenomenon

Pabst Saloon Milwaukee 1900

Pabst Saloon Milwaukee 1900 © Milwaukee Public Library

The phenomenon of the “tied house” began as early as the 1850s, when Milwaukee breweries built saloons where their beer could be sold.  Breweries offered special prices or discounts on their beer, and in many cases, they would help the tavern owner maintain the property by offering new equipment. Eventually, the breweries discovered that the most practical way to hold a drinking customer and grow sales was to own the saloon outright, thus eliminating competition altogether. By the 1890s most Milwaukee breweries, especially the larger ones, began an aggressive program to purchase existing saloons, purchase prime vacant locations, and build newer saloons. These saloons became known as “tied houses” because they were “tied” to the brewery. The ownership and control of the tied houses ended when Prohibition was repealed in 1933. Prior to Prohibition, the Schlitz Brewing Co. had more than 2,000 saloons across the United States, the Pabst Brewing Co. had more than a 1,000. The Blatz Brewing Co., Miller Brewing Co. and other smaller breweries maintained much less numbers of tide houses in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin.

Today, most of these former tide houses are still standing throughout Milwaukee and are generally identifiably brick with corner doors and located on street corners. Many of the buildings still have evidence of what brewery operated the tavern, due to the original painted or inlaid brewery insignias. As an enduring legacy of this tradition, often these former brewery saloons continue to operate as bars or restaurants.  Fortunately, customers today have many options to choose from when ordering a drink.

Milwaukee South Side Tied House Tour Highlights

South Side Milwaukee Tied House Tour Route

South Side Milwaukee Tied House Tour Route

Our first stop on the tour was a former Schlitz Brewing Co. saloon at 2501 S Superior St. in the Bay View neighborhood. Known today as Club Garibaldi, this cream colored brick tavern was designed by architect Charles Lesser and completed in 1907. This former Schlitz “tied house” operated until Prohibition took effect in 1920.  Seven years later a Mediterranean style interior dance hall was added by owner Joseph Paolo.  Since 1943 the building has served as a public tavern and clubhouse for the Italian-American mutual aid society “Giuseppe Garibaldi”. Today Club Garibaldi is a vibrant part of Milwaukee’s music scene with an award winning pub food menu to boot, and yes you can still order a Schlitz at the bar.

1897 Schlitz Tied House 2414 S. St. Clair St. Milwaukee

1897 Schlitz Tied House 2414 S. St. Clair St. Milwaukee

Our second stop was at another Schlitz Brewing Co. tied house located a few blocks north at 2414 S. St. Clair St.  This two story Queen Anne style cream brick tavern features a rare original Schlitz belted globe atop an octagonal roof turret.  The building was designed by architect Charles Kirchoff and constructed in 1897 by Duke and Turner.  Prior to Prohibition, the saloon was run by Galo & Wilhelm. Since 1958, the former saloon was converted into a Serbian restaurant operated by the Radicevic family.  When we were there Milunka Radicevic was kind enough to allow our group inside to admire the interior and ask questions about the building.

Puddler's Hall Milwaukee 1919 & 2013

1873 Puddler’s Hall Milwaukee 1919 & 2013

Stop number three was a short stroll down St. Clair St. to Puddler’s Hall where we met with the new owner Casey Foltz.  Casey is installing a one barrel brewery in the building where he will brew small batches for in-house consumption. Puddler’s Hall is considered Milwaukee’s second oldest tavern, built by the Milwaukee Iron Company and opened in 1873 as a union hall for the Puddler’s and Boilers of the nearby foundry.  In September of 1892 it was sold by the Puddler’s and Boilers’ Union to the Falk Jung and Borchert Brewing Co.  However, that brewing company was forced to sell their assets to the Pabst Brewing Company that same year due to a devastating brewery fire that bankrupted the business.  By November of 1892 the hall became a Pabst Brewing Company tied house and would remain so until 1921.  It was sold to Frank and Mary Barbieri, which served as Barbieri’s Dance Hall until 1979.  Between 1979 and today, the tavern has had a number of names, but its identity as a local meeting place over a beer remains constant 140 years later.

1890s Munzinger Weiss Beer Brewery

1890s Munzinger Weiss Beer Brewery

The next stop took us past the site of the Munzinger Weiss Beer Brewery, which was built in 1890 on the eastside of Burrell Street, two blocks south of Lincoln Avenue at 2428-2432 Burrell St. They first produced soda water, ginger ale and Weiss beer.  However the brewery was foreclosed in 1901 and sold at a “Sheriff’s Auction” to Bernhard Tess.  Within a couple of years the wood-framed brewery buildings were demolished and eventually replaced with the residential homes on the site to this day.

1906 Miller Tied House at 182 E. Lincoln Ave. Milwaukee

1906 Miller Tied House at 182 E. Lincoln Ave. Milwaukee

Just down the hill from the Munzinger site is one of the least known and least identifiable former tied houses on Milwaukee’s Southside located at the intersection of E. Ward St. and E. Lincoln Ave. Built in 1906 by the Miller Brewing Co. as a saloon, the wood-framed 1 ½ story building was designed in the German Renaissance Revival style.  Over the past century it housed several taverns under different names, namely Ralph’s in the 1990s and is known as Baby Boomers today.

1901 Schlitz Tied House at 565 W. Lincoln Ave. Milwaukee

1901 Schlitz Tied House at 565 W. Lincoln Ave. Milwaukee

The bus was now heading west on Lincoln Ave. where we passed a couple more former historic saloons and Schlitz tied houses that have been converted into restaurants or other businesses.  Eventually we made our way north along Windlake Ave. while passing more former saloons and another Schlitz tied house at 854 Windlake Ave.  Soon we were in the Walkers Point Neighborhood where we disembarked and were given an exclusive inside look at a former Miller tied house at 1101 S. 2nd St.

1907 Miller Tied House at 1101 S. 2nd St. Milwaukee

1907 Miller Tied House at 1101 S. 2nd St. Milwaukee

This two-story cream brick tavern was built in 1907 and designed by architects Wolf & Ewens in a commercial vernacular style. Since the 1930s it has housed several bar businesses, including Marble Arcade in the late 1980s and M Martini lounge in the early 2000s.  Inside, a great deal of restoration has taken place with the original ornate tin ceiling as a highlight and tables made from old bowling lanes. Currently the building is owned by Braise Local Food LLC, which features an excellent locally sourced menu and they even host culinary classes.

Milwaukee Brewing Company S. 2nd St. Brewery April 20th 2013

Milwaukee Brewing Company S. 2nd St. Brewery April 20th 2013

By noon we were all feeling hungry so it was time to have a delicious Lasagna catered lunch at Milwaukee Brewing Company’s production brewery 613 S. 2nd St.  Following lunch everyone was treated to a fantastic tour with brewery, while enjoying as many pints of their signature and seasonal beers as desired.  This brewery combines modern technology with vintage equipment, while emphasizing green energy by using biodiesel and recently installed solar panels. Their signature beers include: Louie’s Demise, Pull Chain Pale Ale and Polish Moon and a variety of seasonal beers released throughout the year.

1916 Pabst Tied House at 338 S. 1st St. Milwaukee

1916 Pabst Tied House at 338 S. 1st St. Milwaukee

Following lunch, we boarded the bus for a short drive to the next former tied house built by the Pabst Brewing Co. in 1916.  Located at 338 S. 1st St. in Walkers Point this beige colored two story brick tavern is designed in the typical commercial vernacular style, with its main entrance on the corner of building. It only operated as a Pabst bar for four years, before Prohibition forced its closure. Over the succeeding decades the building housed several taverns, whose names included, End of the Line tavern, Smugglers tavern, Slim’s tavern and currently O’Lydia’s Bar and Grill. At nearly 100 years old, the original tin ceiling remains intact, as well as the original bar with oak columns.  Exposed cream brick on the interior lends to its historic charm, as does the sloping hard wood floors.  Today, O’Lydia’s serves a variety of tap and bottle beers, as well as a fully stocked bar and excellent pub food menu.

1901 Schlitz Tivoli Palm Garden at 504 W. National Ave. Milwaukee

1901 Schlitz Tivoli Palm Garden at 504 W. National Ave. Milwaukee

As the bus rolled on, we passed several historic brewery related industrial buildings, including former malt houses and a cooperage on S. Water St.  However, the next stop that we disembarked from the bus was at the former Schlitz Tivoli Palm Garden.  Located at 504 W National Ave.  this Neoclassical-style two story tan brick building was completed in 1901 and served as the Southside’s version of the downtown Schlitz Palm Garden on 3rd and Wisconsin Ave.  When it opened the Tivoli Palm Garden featured a thirty foot dome, hand carved woodwork, tiled floors and cathedral glass. In in December of 1978 the building was listed on National Register of Historic Places, however a year later a devastating fire gutted the interior and destroyed the original dome.  Fortunately, its historical significance led to a massive restoration project. Today the building’s exterior has been fully restored and is home to the Milwaukee Ballet.  The former palm garden is now a large open dance studio with smaller dance studios on second floor.

1888 John Graf Advertisement and 1890s Weiss Beer Bottle

1888 John Graf Advertisement and 1890s Weiss Beer Bottle

Moving on, we passed by three locations of the former Graf soda and weiss breweries.  The brewery’s first home was on southeast corner of S. 5th & W. National Ave. in 1873. Three years later they relocated the business to S. 10th St. & National Ave and renamed the business as the South Side White Beer Brewery. In 1884 John Graf relocated to the southeast corner of s. 22nd (formerly 17th Ave.) & W. Greenfield Ave. where he built a new brewery. By 1892 the brewery produced 100 cases of bottled wiess beer daily, including ginger ale, champagne, mineral water, seltzer water and other sodas. Today the site of that brewery is now a parking lot and one story commercial building.

1904 Schlitz Tied House at 2501 W. Greenfield Ave. Milwaukee

1904 Schlitz Tied House at 2501 W. Greenfield Ave. Milwaukee

The fifteenth highlighted building on this tour was the former Schlitz Brewing Co. Saloon located at 2501 W. Greenfield Ave. This two-story red brick building dates to 1904 and was designed in an Elizabethan Revival style by architect Charles Lesser, to mimic an English country inn.  On the east wall of the building is an original Schlitz logo mosaic.  The day we arrived the wooden building on the west side of this former tied house was recently torn down, revealing an original Schlitz advertisement known as a “ghost sign”.  Inside, the original bar and ornate iron radiators are still extant.  Today, the building remains virtually original and is home to the Mexican restaurant El Cañaveral (cane field). En lieu of English muffins, you’re more likely to eat bisteak a la Mexicana, though Schlitz beer is still served.

1870 Falk Brewery site at S. 29th St and W. Pierce St. Milwaukee

1870 Falk Brewery site at S. 29th St and W. Pierce St. Milwaukee

A few more blocks to the west is the site of the former Falk Jung and Borchert Brewery near S. 29th St. & W. Pierce St.  We were treated to an exclusive inside tour of the property by owner Pastor George.  The remaining large cream brick stock houses and malt houses are the oldest brewery related buildings in Milwaukee and possibly the state of Wisconsin.  In 1870 Franz Falk constructed the New Bavaria Brewery with a production of about 8,000 barrels per year. In 1888 the brewery merged with the Jung & Borchert Brewery and became known as Falk, Jung & Borchert Brewing Co.  Unfortunately, a devastating fire on July 4th 1889 destroyed the brew house and other structures, however the brewery was soon rebuilt and back in business within a year. Tragically, another fire broke out at the brewery on August 30, 1892 and was equally devastating. The brewery was not rebuilt and within two months of the fire, the Falk, Jung & Borchert Brewing Company was sold to the Pabst Brewing Company. Over the years, the remaining 1870s buildings were used for grain malting and grain storage. Today, despite being in a state of disrepair, the buildings were threatened with demolition, but as of early April 2013 the raze order was lifted due to the intervention of several concerned citizens.

1889 Schlitz Tied House at 1900 W. St. Paul Ave. Milwaukee

1889 Schlitz Tied House at 1900 W. St. Paul Ave. Milwaukee

The next stop on the tour took us across the Menomonee River valley to yet another former Schlitz Brewing Co. tied house at 1900 W. St. Paul Ave. This elegant Queen Anne style three story cream brick building was built for the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company as a saloon and boarding house known as the Marine Hotel. The main building was designed by Charles Kirchoff and completed in 1889, with a rear addition being added in 1890 that served as cellar.  A notable feature of the building’s exterior is the presence of an inlaid brick Schlitz globe on the parapet of the buildings upper exterior.  When we arrived, the place was packed, so owner Dave Sobelman took our group upstairs where everyone was appropriately treated to a bottle of Schlitz. Dave had some great stories about the building and his business, Sobelman’s Bar and Grill, and was kind enough to lead us throughout the building from the attic to the basement.

1904 Pabst Tied House at 124 N. Water St. Milwaukee

1904 Pabst Tied House at 124 N. Water St. Milwaukee

The final stop on this epic tour took us to a former Pabst Brewing Co. Saloon & Boarding House at 124 N. Water St. in Milwaukee’s historic Third Ward. This former tied house was designed in a neoclassical style by the architect Charles F. Peters and completed by master mason Edward Steigerwald in 1904. Its notable architectural feature includes an inlaid Pabst plaque on the south façade of the building’s exterior. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 8th 1984. As of 2012 the bar became known as the Irish Pub and it maintains a great deal of original interior and exterior architectural details.

By 5:15pm the bus arrived back at Discovery World where we began the day’s adventure.  All expressed their great satisfaction with the tour and are eager to return for the next tour in September 2013 as we explore the former tied houses and breweries in downtown Milwaukee and on the north side of the city. Stay tuned for more information on that tour on Discovery Worlds website and a subsequent post-tour article here on the Distant Mirror blog.


Goddess Brewing Series: Ninkasi IPA

Goddess Brewing Series Banner
Discovery World are pleased to announce a brand new women-led and female-only brewing series, set for Tuesday April 9th. Our first brewstress will be Christine “Boo” Wisniewski (recently of Milwaukee Brewing Company), who will lead a brewing session of an India Pale Ale that is inspired by the ancient goddess of fermentation, Ninkasi.

Each session in the series will also highlight and pay homage to an ancient goddess as you reclaim your brewing heritage by exploring the techniques of fermentation from experienced female brewers.

Light refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be served during the evening. Participants must return to the bottling session in order to take home their one-of-a-kind product.
Sign up here: http://www.discoveryworld.org/programs/goddess-brewing-series/

Brewing a Himalayan Tongba and Sorghum Chai Ale

By: Kevin Cullen: Archaeologist at DISCOVERY WORLD  Milwaukee, WI, USA

Ale Through The Ages Logo

The 29th Ale Through The Ages brewing session held in February 2013 at Discovery World, focused on the fermented beverages of the Himalayan Mountains.  Despite a poignantly timed snow storm that caused a postponement, we still had a nice turn out when we brewed two varieties of rare ales; a traditional Himalayan Tongba and a regionally-inspired Sorghum Chai Ale.

Himalayan Tongba Label

Tongba (also known as Chaang) is a millet-based fermented beverage indigenous the cultures of Eastern Nepal, Sikkim and Tibet.  Specifically, the Limbu people (roughly translates as “the bearer of bows and arrows”), brew and consume the fermented millet Tongba on a regular basis. There are several varieties of millet grains cultivated globally, due to its drought resistant properties. Finger millet (called Marwa in Nepali) is an annual plant of the grass family widely grown as a cereal crop in the Himalayan mountains of Nepal and India. Millet originated in East Asia and made its way from China to the Black Sea region of Europe around 7,000 years ago. Interestingly, it was once more commonly consumed than rice.

Women Drinking Tongba

Traditionally, the millet for Tongba is  fermented with a local yeast called murcha, which is a mixture of wild yeast and bacteria.  Murcha was impossible to find here in the United States, so Koji yeast was used instead to convert the millet starch into fermentable sugars.  Koji is used in sake production, which is a mycelium mold that converts sugars via an amylolysis enzymatic reaction.

Himalayan Tongba Ale Recipe_AttA_Feb2013

After two weeks sitting in sealed buckets, this fermented millet (jaand) was then put into 12 oz. bottles and capped.  It is ready to drink in a couple of weeks, at which time hot water is added to the Tongba and consumed with a straw while hot.   The result is a mildly alcoholic fermented beverage that has a pleasant aroma and a sour bread flavor profile. Much like tea, the Tongba can take several steeps of hot water before loosing its flavor and alcohol content.   This recipe is derived from first-hand experience, from when I first enjoyed Tongba while trekking in the Himalayas of eastern Nepal in December of 2000.

Himalayan Tongba imbibing in the Thirst Lab

The second batch of ale we brewed for this session was a Sorghum Chai Ale. The recipe was inspired by the ingredients native to the Himalayan mountain landscape of India, Nepal and into the Tibetan Plateau.  Brewed with Sorghum, Millet, Honey, Darjeeling Tea and Cardamom, this unique gluten-free ale is sure to conjure images of sherpa’s on mountain peaks, as you quaff this one-of-a-kind ale. 

Sorghum Chai Ale Label

Two yeast strains were used to ferment two 5 gallon carboys. One was a Sake yeast and the other was wild yeast obtained from first flush Darjeeling tea leaves.  The Sake yeast worked very efficiently to ferment the ale, however the wild yeast took several weeks longer to come to terminal gravity.  At 5.5 % ABV, the resulting ales were deliciously cider-like with hints of black tea and cardamom. Each yeast exhibited unique flavor profiles as a result of their provenance. Try your hand at brewing these unique ales at home and let us know how they turn out. As they say in Nepalese शुभ कामना Subhakamana , Cheers!

Sorghum Chai Ale Recipe



Ale Through The Ages – Season V

Ale Through The Ages LogoBy:  Kevin Cullen: Archaeology Associate:  Discovery World, Milwaukee WI

Ale Through The Ages season five is currently underway at Milwaukee’s premiere Center for Public Innovation: Discovery World. We began the season in October by pressing an Old Wisconsin Apple Cider, using heirloom apples from Weston’s Antique Orchard in Waukesha County. Clocking in at 8.6% it was a delicious taste of  Wisconsin’s autumnal bounty.

Ale Through The Ages series

Ale Through The Ages series : Old Wisconsin Cider Label

In November 2012 we brewed two versions of a Presidential Ale.  The first recipe was quilled by George Washington in 1757 when he was on the front lines of the French & Indian War.  With molasses and boiled “bran” as the principle ingredients, needless-t0-say the end result was both smoky and barely passable for a beer we think of today.

Ale Through The Ages Season V - Session XXVI

Ale Through The Ages Season V – Session XXVI

Six more gallons of the wort was fermented in a large pumpkin, resulting in a unique flavor of the squash used in brewing during the colonial period.  The other 6 gallons of the George Washington Ale was fermented in a glass carboy, with the addition of cherry wood chips added to secondary fermentation.

Ale Through The Ages - Season V - Session XXVI

Ale Through The Ages – Season V – Session XXVI

In contrast to our first president, we also brewed a six gallon batch of White House Honey Porter, currently being brewed at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington DC. In 2012, the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, purchased home brewing equipment for the White House.  With the help of local professional brewers and staff chefs, they began brewing a Honey Porter and a Honey Ale in the kitchen of the White House.  While we were not able to source the actual White House honey, we used Wauwatosa WI wildflower honey, as well as American, English and German ingredients to create a delicious honey porter. Ale to all the Commander and Chiefs; past, present and future!

Ale Through The Ages - Season V - Session XXVI

Ale Through The Ages – Season V – Session XXVI

December 2012 brought cold weather 0nce again to Milwaukee, so we hunkered down and brewed up a Medieval German smokey rye ale called a Roggenbier. Resurrected from the depths of brewing history, this northern European ale recipe predates the Bavarian Purity Law, Reinheitsgebot, of 1516, due to the use of rye as the predominant grain.   Much like a Dunkelweizen, this Roggenbier was dark in color with deep smoky caramel notes and a crisp rye finish.  An addition of German Spalt noble hops and meadowsweet herbs, evoke the floral pallet of Northern European brewing traditions over 1,000 years ago.


Ale Through The Ages - Season V - Session XXVII

Ale Through The Ages – Season V – Session XXVII

2013 began a new despite the erroneous hype about the end of time, based on a Mayan inscription at the site of Totuguero (Tabasco Mexico) that states the end of Mayan’s 13th BakTun (December 21st 2012).  Clearly we all survived Armageddon, so it seemed fitting to pay respect the ancient cultures of MesoAmerica that fermented  cacao pods into chocolate beverages. These cultures also added maize (corn), dried peppers (ancho and chipotle), native vanilla beans and honey to their fermented beverages. Therefore, this recipe is based on archaeological and ethnographic research from sites in Honduras and southern Mexico.  The resulting Mayan Chocolate Ale had a marvelous  cacao flavor, spiced with a southern Mexican chipotle peppers and vanilla beans.

Ale Through The Ages - Season V - Session XXVIII

Ale Through The Ages – Season V – Session XXVIII

Our next brewing challenge takes place February 7th 2013 at Discovery World, when we tackle a Himalayan Tongba Ale, which is a millet beer still being brewed by the Limbu Culture in the Himalayan mountains of eastern Nepal, Sikkim and Tibet.  A wild yeast obtained from Darjeeling tea leaves will be used in a portion of the traditional Tongba brew to ferment the millet and create this uniquely warming fermented beverage that is perfect for a cold Wisconsin February. This brewing session will include an in depth presentation with photographs that I personally took while trekking in this region of Nepal in 2000.  REGISTER HERE before the seats are full and you miss out on taking home a sample of this very rare ale.



Power Drinking and Power Dressing in Iron Age Germany

By Kevin M. Cullen (Archaeologist: Discovery World: Milwaukee WI)

During the final Ale through the Ages program of the 2011-2012 season at Discovery World on March 22nd, we were honored to have University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Professor of Anthropology Bettina Arnold and her German colleagues, Sabine Hagmann (State Monuments Office Baden-Württemberg Hemmenhofen) and Rosemarie Stadler (Federseemuseum), as guest presenters. This special brewing program, titled, “Power Drinking and Power Dressing in Iron Age Germany” celebrated the “beer and bling” of the continental Celts from southwest Germany.

The evening of the event, guests were treated to samples of “Keltenbräu”, a recreated Iron Age beer that was brewed by Dr. Arnold and I specifically for this program. The recipe was derived from archaeological evidence excavated at several Iron Age sites in SW Germany (Stika 2011). The Keltenbräu consisted of German malted barley (Weyermann, pale, roasted, smoked and acidulated malt) and flavored with mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) and carrot seeds (Daucus carota). 6 gallons was fermented with a standard American Ale Yeast, while another 6 gallons were fermented with a Roeselare Ale yeast (saccharomyces and brettanomyces blend). At 6% ABV, the resulting beverage was a mahogany-colored slightly smoky ale, with a distinct tart finish from the mugwort. 1 lb of wildflower honey was added to the standard ale yeast batch for balance and contrast to the sour Roeselare Ale yeast version.

Power Drinking & Power Dressing

The recipe that we chose to brew for this special program was an Iron Age honey mead, found in a bronze cauldron at the foot of a Celtic chieftain who was buried in a central burial chamber, beneath an earthen mound near the village of Hochdorf in southwestern Germany. Excavations led by Dr. Jörg Biel in 1978-79 revealed that this elite male was buried around 550 BCE. To discover an intact burial chamber from this period was a rarity, as most were looted over the centuries. Included in the burial was a wagon with nine bronze plates and three bronze serving platters. Nine large gold decorated drinking horns, likely aurochs horns. Eight of them could hold 1 liter of liquid, yet the largest horn which hung above the chieftain’s head could hold a 10 pint (5 liter) capacity (that’s a “power drinker”). Additionally, a very large Greek-imported bronze cauldron with a capacity of 70 gallons (ca. 265 liters) was placed at the chieftain’s feet. Upon analysis of the desiccated remains, it was determined to have once been mead (honey wine). Such a volume of mead was quite an extravagance and very expensive to obtain, particularly considering the Celts did not have formalized apiculture.

Therefore, it was an outward symbol of power to procure that much honey and then ferment it for ritual consumption during the mortuary feast. It isn’t entirely clear whether this mead was intended for the deceased upon his arrival to the afterlife, or if it was for the attendants at the burial of the Hochdorf chieftain. Nevertheless, it was this mead that we recreated during this special Ale through the Ages program and it was the textiles found in the grave itself that were recreated and modeled during this event.
Etymology of “Mead”
The earliest surviving written notation of mead comes from a hymn in the Rig-Veda, one of the sacred books of Hinduism dated around 1700–1100 BCE, in which it states “In the wide-striding Vishnu’s highest footstep, there is a spring of mead.” The etymology of the word mead can be traced to the Sanskrit word, madhu, which became the Old English word Medu and German Met, all of which are the precursor to “mead.” Indeed, the term “honeymoon” is considered to be derived from the tradition of newlyweds drinking mead for one month (one moon) following their wedding to ensure fertility. In pre-historic Europe, mead was considered the drink of Celtic royalty and has been found in many archaeological contexts, not only in Germany, but also into Ireland and beyond.

Power Dressing

Modeled by Rosemarie Stadler at Discovery World, Milwaukee WI, March 2012

What also made the Hochdorf burial so remarkable was the state of preservation of the textiles. Rarely do 2,000 + year-old textiles survive in the archaeological record, so when they do, it “literally brings the individuals who wore the costumes back to life” (Dr. Bettina Arnold). Textiles are commonly underappreciated as outward symbols of status, particularly considering the amount of time and labor required to produce them in antiquity. After tallying up all of the hours it took to reproduce a costume from this period, it came out to 1,762.5 hours for just the fabric alone. The rarity of natural red and blue dyes in continental Europe in the Iron Age would have also acted as visible symbols of status. This Celtic Period costume consisted of a red woven undergarment made of wool with a blue diamond boarder, a blue cloak with embroidered meander and swastika patterns (common symbols found throughout the ancient world), leather pointed-toe shoes with gold filigree, bronze cloak pins (fibulae), bronze hair pins and a large pattern-embossed bronze belt plate. Taken altogether, it is clear that they way someone dresses (even in this day and age), offers insight into a person’s socio-economic status, as well as the context in which the costumes were worn. It is much like today’s cultural rituals of dressing the part when attending award banquets, weddings, funerals, etc.

Hochdorf Mead

As previously mentioned, the mead we were recreating was based on evidence found in a bronze cauldron buried with a Celtic chieftain at the site of Hochdorf in southwestern Germany. Palynological (pollen) analysis performed by Udelgard Körber-Grohne, showed that the residue contained pollen from at least 60 different plants. The two most common pollen types were thyme and meadowsweet. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), is a small shrub bearing small pink flowers in midsummer which attract bees. The fact that thyme pollen was the most common type found in the Hochdorf mead sample indicates that the honey was collected in mid-late summer. Additional pollen found in the Hochdorf mead residue was that of meadowsweet (Filpendula ulmaria or Spiraea ulmaria). Also known as bridewort, queen of the meadow and meadwort, it is a perennial plant with creamy white flowers. Archaeological evidence points to it being a common brewing addition in Europe for millennia. It was also traditionally used for medicinal purposes as an anti-inflammatory, antacid and for fever relief. It is likely therefore that the pollen in the Hochdorf mead residue accounts for the pollen the bees collected on those flowering plants during the late summer.

Discovery WorldThe honey we used in this mead was donated by the Urban Apiculture Institute here in Milwaukee. This was wildflower honey also made during the late summer from the flowers of Goldenrod and Aster. So to account for the thyme and meadowsweet pollen in the original Hochdorf mead, both of these were added in small amounts to our mead during the brewing. In order to preserve the subtle honey aromatics the 12 gallons of sweet liquid was kept below boiling temperature for 30minutes. The resulting Original Gravity came in at 1.18 (25˚Plato)! Six gallons were fermented with lambic yeast to convey the wild yeast flavors, while the other six gallons were fermented with a sweet mead yeast. Fermentation began in earnest and continued steadily for two weeks. Typically mead should be allowed to ferment for months, but this class was on a schedule and could not wait that long.

Therefore, after two weeks the gravity dropped to 1.040 (10˚Plato) on both carboys, i.e. 10.5% ABV. In order to mitigate the potential for continued fermentation in the bottles, a small amount of potassium sorbate was added, whereby making the yeast dormant. The resulting flavors were delicious, sweet indeed with a hint of thyme and a warming wine-like finish. Ninety-five 12 fl. oz. bottles were filled, capped, labeled and taken home by the program participants, thus ending the 2011-2012 Ale through the Ages season. Certainly this special Hochdorf Mead will age splendidly and hopefully evoke the fermented flavors of the European Celts whose cultural power continues to influence Western Civilization.

Media Exposure:


The Archaeology of Ancient Egyptian Brewing

The latest Ale through the Ages brewing series at Discovery World focused on the archaeological evidence of brewing beer in ancient Egypt.  A large group turned out on January 5th, 2012 to brew an Ancient Egyptian Ale, which marked the twentieth distinct recipe we’ve recreated in the series since October 2008.

Many different styles of beer were brewed throughout the long history of the Egyptian Civilization; however, this recipe is based on the ingredients known to have been used at sites such as Hierakonopolis and Amarna.  It must be stated that this recipe is an approximation of what an Egyptian beer would have tasted like.  Given the geographic and temporal differences between North America and Egypt, as well as thousands of years in between, it is virtually impossible to create the exact same fermented beverage brewed by the ancient Egyptian brewers.

Egyptian Beer in the Written Record

Beer, called henqet (Hnq.t)      in ancient Egyptian, was a vital staple in the diet of all social classes. An Egyptian brewer was called ‘fty  .  One could argue that the massive pyramids of Giza would not have been built without the nutrients and calories beer offered. In fact, hieroglyphic inscriptions indicate that the laborers who built these pyramids were afforded a daily ration of four loaves of bread and two jugs of beer.  Moreover, pyramid texts at Saqqara (earliest ca. 2400 BCE) mention several different types of beer: “dark beer”, “iron beer”, “garnished beer”, “friends beer”, beer of truth”, “beer of eternity”.  Classical Greek writers called beer Zythos “to foam”, which was first described by Theophrastus Θεόφραστος (371 – c. 287 BC): “…those beverages, which were prepared, like those made of barley and wheat, of rotting fruits.”  The Greek writer Strabo (ca. 64 BCE – AD 23) wrote of Egyptian beer: “Barley beer is a preparation peculiar to the Egyptians, it is common to many tribes, but the mode of preparing it differs in each” (Geographica Book XVII).

Archaeological Evidence:

While the written record is important, direct evidence for brewing in ancient Egypt has begun to emerge throughout the Nile River Valley.  One example is of a brewing scene from the tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep at Saqqara.  The tomb was first excavated by Egyptian archaeologist Ahmed Moussa in 1964, and dates to the Old Kingdom, circa 2400 B.C. E.  The brewing scene visually describes the process from beginning to end, including taxation.

Perhaps one of the most compelling discoveries of brewing beer in ancient Egypt comes from the ancient site of Hierakonpolis (City of the Hawk) in upper Egypt. Excavations led by Jeremy Geller et al. beginning in 1989, yielded evidence of large scale brewing activities.  Known as the Vat Site (HK24), it dates to 3,500-3,400 BCE. The name comes from the discovery of six coarse ceramic vats in two parallel rows set within a mud platform.  This platform was likely originally covered with an ad hoc superstructure to contain heat.  It was estimated that each vat could hold about 16 gallons.  Hence the brewery could produce 300 gallons a week allowing 2 days for fermentation in the vat. Residue analysis indicated that emmer wheat with dates and possibly grapes were added to provide the necessary sugars for fermentation.

Further evidence of ancient Egyptian brewing comes from Kom El-Nana near the ancient city of Amarna. Amarna was the capital of the Pharaoh Akhenaten and his consort Nefertiti.  Excavations during the 1990s by members of the Amarna Project revealed a large brick enclosure (228 x 213 meters).  As part of this large complex were the remains of parallel brick chambers with ovens, including pottery moulds suggesting a combined bakery and brewery.   Recent microscopy analysis by Dr. Delwen Samuel (Cambridge University ) of beer residues from +200 pottery vessels found among the ruins of workers’ villages at Amarna prove that Egyptian brewing was far more elaborate that suspected. Evidence of malting barley and emmer wheat were discovered, which were used in brewing beer.  Samuel noted that unmalted grains were also used in brewing at the site (Samuel 1996). It was from this research that Dr. Samuel collaborated with Scottish and Newcastle Breweries to create Tutankhamen Ale, which consisted of emmer wheat, juniper, coriander and yeast. “It does not taste like any beer I’ve ever tried before,” Dr. Samuel was quoted as saying. “It’s very rich, very malty and has a flavor that reminds you a little of chardonnay.”

Our Ancient Egyptian Ale

A total of 25 gallons of Ancient Egyptian Ale was brewed for this class.  The Original Gravity turned out to be 1.062 (15˚ Plato) due to the addition of wheat malt barley malt and sweet dates. 12 gallons were fermented with a Bavarian Wheat yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) strain and another 12 gallons were fermented with natural yeasts present on Algerian dates (Phoenix dactylifera) that were put directly into the cooled wort.  Traditional fermentation in ancient Egypt likely occurred from wild yeast found on dates and/or grapes that were placed in fermentation vessels. Fermentation may also have taken place by adding previously fermented beer (which would have already contained yeast) into the fermentation vessels.

Not surprisingly, the commercial yeast took off right away and fermented down to a gravity of 1.008 in three days (i.e. 7% ABV).  Meanwhile, the batch with the wild date yeast underwent a slower fermentation and resulted in a soured flavor and a final gravity of 1.020. Finally, a small two gallon batch was fermented in a replica Egyptian-style ceramic jar.  A teaspoon of dry ale yeast was sprinkled on top of ale, which had an original gravity of 1.052 (12.5˚ Plato).  After three days its final gravity was 1.005 (i.e. 6% ABV).  For authenticity, this small batch of Ancient Egyptian Ale was served directly out of the ceramic container at room temperature and slightly carbonated. The result was a quite unique-tasting ale, similar to bread with hints on coriander and dates.  The primary batch of Ancient Egyptian Ale was bottled on January 19th 2012.  The batch fermented with Bavarian Wheat yeast is very palatable with bready notes, reminiscent of a hefe-weizen. The batch fermented with the dates is certainly funky with apple cider and vinegar flavors overlaid on a malty sweetened date backbone.  It will be exciting to see how they taste after a few weeks of conditioning in their bottles. We should all raise our glasses to the brewers of ancient Egypt and may archaeologists continue to discover much more about their prolific brewing tradition in the years to come.


Samuel, Delwen:     1996    Archaeology of Ancient Egyptian Beer.  Journal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists. Vol 54.

McGovern, Patrick:   2009    Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer and Other Alcoholic Beverages.  University of California Press


2011 Distant Mirror Year In Review

2011 was a busy year of archaeology education, exploration and research.  The year began with the installation of a new Distant Mirror Archaeology Exhibit at Discovery World.  This exhibit explores the many uses of technology through time, with particular emphasis on the material culture of the Great Lakes and American Southwest.  Prehistoric artifacts from Milwaukee Co. were loaned by the Milwaukee Public Museum, as well as prehistoric artifacts from southwest Colorado, loaned to us from the Anasazi Heritage Center.   A variety of custom-built interactive experiences allow visitors to virtually recreate earthen mounds (formerly located in Milwaukee), digitally dissect a mummy using CT scanning technology, survey local historic and archaeological sites using computer software, as well as “excavate” artifacts from  layers of earth with a swipe of your hand. This exhibit has become a great resource for educating the public about the principles of archaeology; especially students.

A particular group of students we are continuing to work with in a customized program called the Art and Archaeology of Me, are from Bay View High School.  Now in its third year, these students combined the tools and methods of archaeology, research and interviewing techniques, as well as visual art, in order to explore their relationship with the history and future of Milwaukee. The students learned how to explore their past and see their future through the Distant Mirror of Archaeology. An exciting outgrowth of this program was the construction of Milwaukee Observatory at the Bay View Historical Society.  The students helped to build a “cultural memory house” where students’ personal archaeology banners were displayed alongside historic Milwaukee images.  This house was inspired by Solomon Juneau’s (the founding father of Milwaukee) fur trading cabin, built during the 1820s along the Milwaukee River.  The Observatory became a vibrant location for students to interview the local community about their Milwaukee memories, while also photographing historic artifacts and documents that people brought with them.

Several of these High School students were also given the opportunity to participate in an actual archaeological survey in Milwaukee’s Juneau Park in early May of 2011.  Using ground penetrating radar, soil coring, test excavations, as well as GPS and compass mapping, we were able to discover more buried secrets beneath the park.  Our first test excavation was placed on the western edge of former lot 20 in block 106.  We decided to excavate a 50cm X 50cm shovel test over the location of a former carriage house / garden shed that dated to the 1870s-1920s.  Suddenly, we began finding 19th century artifacts at 60cm below the surface.  This turned out to be a cultural “midden” (25 cm thick) that consisted of the following artifacts: Handmade earthenware flowerpots (> 200 sherds [4.777kgs.]), square nails (>50 [902 gms.]), brick fragments (<10 [160gms]), wood fragments (2 [5gms]) coal (<10 [210gms.]), burned animal bone (2 [2gms]), clear bottle glass (2 [6gms]), roof slate (3 [18gms]), drain pipe (1 [72gms]) lead piping (1 [105gms]).  Upon post-processing, we recovered 13 nearly fully-intact (reconstructed) earthenware flowerpots and eight fragmentary vessels, resulting in at least 21 distinct handmade flowerpots.  The students were very excited by this unusual discovery buried beneath their feet.

July 15th-17th marked the 5th annual Eyes in the Deep program, where the public and Discovery World summer camp students are given the opportunity to explore and document local Lake Michigan shipwrecks along Milwaukee’s lakefront. This season, Discovery World once again assembled a team of experts to showcase underwater technology in the exploration and documentation of the shipwreck Appomattox located at the end of Capitol Dr. off Atwater Beach in Milwaukee.  Built in 1896 at the James Davidson shipyard in West Bay City, Michigan, the 319-foot long Appomattox was the largest wooden bulk steamer ever produced on the Great Lakes, and possibly the world.  On November 2nd 1905, loaded with a cargo of coal, she was blinded by heavy smog and industrial smoke emanating from Milwaukee and ran hard aground on a sandbar where she remains to this day in less than 20 feet of water.  This shipwreck was a great chance for the Underwater Archaeology and the Underwater Robotics summer camp students from Discovery World to explore a real shipwreck for themselves.  They were able to pilot a remotely operated vehicle over the wreck and even communicate with the divers in the water with acoustic instruments. Overall, it was a spectacular couple of days with good visibility and calm water, perfect for a shipwreck exploration.

In fulfillment of a Boy Scout Archaeology Merit Badge, an archaeology excavation was performed in early August 2011 at the “Lost Lighthouse” site in Lake Park, under the direction of Discovery World’s staff archaeologist, Kevin Cullen.  Twenty scouts helped to excavate and document the remains of the original 1855 North Point Lighthouse, which was demolished in the late 1890s.  Today, the only above ground evidence of the former lighthouse are cream bricks and other artifacts found along a steep embankment that slopes down to the Lake Michigan shore.   The scouts worked to map these surface artifacts and to excavate shovel tests, while documenting all artifacts and features.  After two days of work, we recovered direct evidence for the lighthouse light keeper’s house. Artifacts included: Square nails, stoneware ceramics, roof slate, cream bricks, window glass, earthenware ceramics, cinder & coal fragments, an iron door hinge and one shell button, among other artifacts.  Our intention is to continue working at this site in the coming year to find more direct evidence for a possible foundation of the lighthouse.

In September 2011, the fourth Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing tour took place, this time to the historic and contemporary brewing sites on the near North side of the city.  These tours are always a great time, bringing the legendary history of Milwaukee’s brewing heritage into focus like never before.  You can read about this tour in more detail below. http://www.distantmirror.discoveryworld.org/?p=810

Since October, through the end of 2011, the Ale Through The Ages brewing series has been the primary focus of Distant Mirror programming.   This “Best of the Best” series recreated the Anatolian Ale we brewed in 2010 with great results.  In November we re-brewed the Scandinavian Sahti  that we also brewed back in March 2010, meanwhile, December we focused on brewing a Bronze Age Braggot.  Each of these brewing seminars have progressively become more popular with more than 50 people attending the Braggot class alone.

2012 is shaping up to be an exciting year with more ancient brewing classes on the docket.  January we’ll be brewing an Ancient Egyptian Ale, in March we’ll brew an Old Irish Curim golden wheat Ale, followed by a special brewing program entitled “Symbols of Status: Power Drinking and Power Dressing in Iron Age Germany”.  UW-Milwaukee Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Bettina Arnold, will discuss recent archaeological excavations in Germany that have yielded evidence of brewing beer, while highlighting the important social and political role it played.  German scholars on ancient textiles will also be on hand to display and model the intricate costumes from pre-Roman sites, as unique markers of status. Clearly, 2012 is shaping up to be another exciting year of Distant Mirror programming.  Keep checking this blog for new and continuing programs that you too can participate in.





Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing: Northside Brewing History Tour

By Kevin Cullen (Discovery World staff Archaeologist)

Through Discovery World’s Distant Mirror Archaeology program, the most recent Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing tour took place on September 24th 2011. This one-of-a-kind bus tour explored the contemporary brewing hotspots and historic hidden gems on the near Northside of Milwaukee.  Previous tours have explored dozens of historic brewery sites in downtown Milwaukee, on the Southside, as well as the Westside of the city.  Led by Milwaukee brewing historian Leonard Jurgensen and Discovery World archaeologist Kevin Cullen, this time we visited several contemporary and historically significant brewery sites, saloons, malt houses, parks, etc., north of downtown Milwaukee.

As we boarded the Badger Bus outside Discovery World on the late September morning, a unique phenomenon was taking place a mile east over Lake Michigan.  Several water spouts were spotted churning over the waves; fortunately that is where they remained as we moved inland off the lakefront.

Rolling north to Ogden Avenue, we soon arrived at our first historic brewery site, that of the former Ogden Avenue Union Brewery located on the northeast corner of Ogden Ave. and Broadway Ave.  The former brewery was built in 1850 by Henry Stolz and Leonard Schneider.  Over the following decades, brick additions were made to the building and brewing continued under various partnerships until 1892, when it was purchased by the Pabst Brewing Co. who then closed the plant.  In 2005 the historic building was leveled with the intention of constructing a high-rise condominium on the property.  Those plans have yet to materialize and today all that remains is a vacant lot, however, there are still intact cellars that extend beneath the sidewalk of Ogden Ave.

Our next destination was a short distance away at the Schlitz Brewery complex.  The bus disembarked outside the 1890 Brewhouse to pay homage to what is soon-to-be the next casualty in Milwaukee’s brewing heritage, as it is slated for demolition in Spring of 2012.

The keg of specially brewed Omnibus Bock was tapped (brewed in Discovery Worlds MillerCoors THIRST Lab), while we toasted to this magnificent structure and the legacy of the Schlitz Brewing Co. which owes its roots to August Krug who opened his brewery on Juneau Ave in 1849.  The current location was first established as a brewery site by Joseph Schlitz in 1871 to keep up with demand for beer following the Great Chicago Fire that same year.

Boarding the bus with a bock in hand, we made our way a short distance southwest of the Schlitz Brewery, to the former E.L. Husting Brewery at the northeast corner of N. 5th and W. Vliet St.  We were greeted by Kathy Shillinglaw of Great Lakes Archaeological Research Center, who are the current tenants on the second floor of the former brewery building.  The original section of this cream city brick two story building dates to 1877, when Eugene Louis Husting built his weiss beer brewery and soda factory. Grain milling and storage took place on the second floor, while brewing and soda production took place on the first floor. The Husting ale brewery and soda factory remained in operation until prohibition in 1920, after which time the company moved into distribution.  Today the entire building structure is oldest compete former brewing facility in Milwaukee and possibly the state.

Moving north the bus rolled into the site of the former Schlitz Park which was once located at N. 8th St. and Vine St.  The park was acquired in 1879 by the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. as a public beer garden with a lookout tower and concert hall. The park remained as such until it was turned over the City of Milwaukee in 1910 and renamed Lapham Park.  Today the original site of beer garden is located beside Carver Park and beneath the parking lot of Roosevelt Middle School.

By 11:30am we had arrived at the former Northwestern Brewery and Malthouse, located on the northwest corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. and W. Vine St.  Begun in 1856 by Phillip Altpeter as the Northwestern Brewery, they brewed lager and “white beer” until 1884 when the brewery was converted into a malthouse (for malting grain). In 1902 the malthouse was demolished and a new two-story commercial brick building was built by the Phillip Jung Brewing Co. Today this building along with the 1883 cream city brick saloon are still standing.

Nearby, we rolled by the site of the former Phoenix Brewery/Malthouse/Schlitz Cooperage on the southeast corner of N.2nd St. and W. Vine St.  The Phoenix Brewery was established in 1858 by Felix Calgeer who then sold it to Louis Liebscher in 1870 and converted the brewery into a malting facility.  In 1907 those structures were demolished and the current brick building still standing, was erected by the Schlitz Brewing Co. as a cooperage (wooden barrel factory).

Continuing east along W. Vliet St. we arrived at a former Miller Brewing Co. saloon (aka “tide house) on the northwest corner of N. Hubbard St. and Vine St.  Built in 1902, this cream city brick building is currently undergoing rehabilitation by Bob Crawford, who has been painstakingly restoring the tavern to its original glory.  We were treated to a sneak peak inside the bar, which is soon to open to the public in 2012.  As the bus moved north, we passed by several other Miller and Schlitz brewery owned saloons in the Brewers Hill and Riverwest Neighborhoods.  These iconic brick buildings are identifiable by their corner doors and located on street corners.

Our next stop was at Stonefly Brewing Company at 735 E. Center St. for a tour and lunch.  That day there happened to also be a street festival (Center Street Daze) taking place, which made for a vibrant scene. Head brewer, Jacob Sutrick, gave us the tour of their small 7 barrel brewing set-up and provided a unique insight into their operation.  A delicious lunch followed in the pub washed down with a variety of Stonefly ales.

Following a delicious lunch, our next destination was the original location of Lakefront Brewery located at 818 Chambers St. The 1911 redbrick building was built as a bakery, but eventually was where brothers Russ and Jim Klisch started their brewery in 1987 until relocating to its current location on N. Commerce St. ten years later.

It was nearing 2pm when the bus stopped at the former site of the Capitol Brewing Co., located at the southeast corner of N. Fratney St. and E. Vienna St.  Named after Capitol Dr. (one block north), the now defunct brewery was founded in 1933, following Prohibition.  The brewery operated for 15 years, brewing up to 40,000 barrels annually by the early 1940s.  Today only one abandoned out-building from the original Capitol Brewery still stands.

Crossing the Milwaukee River into Shorewood, our next destination was the tasting room of Big Bay Brewing Co., Milwaukee’s newest micro-brewing company which was launched in 2010.  Located at 4517 N. Oakland Ave. the tasting room offers a nice selection of their beer and sodas that are brewed at the Milwaukee Brewing Company’s 2nd Street Brewery.

After an enjoyable sampling of their ales and sodas, we boarded the Badger Bus and headed west along Hampton Ave. to N. Port Washington Rd in Glendale, where the former site of the Eline Candy Plant is located. This enormous complex of buildings were built by the Schlitz Brewing Co. beginning in 1919 as alternative product revenue during Prohibition.  After only ten years of making chocolate candy and cocoa, the multi-million dollar venture failed in 1930 and many of the buildings were retrofitted.  Today several of these buildings still stand and are currently home to medical offices.

Our next destination was a tour and sampling at Sprecher Brewing Co. in Glendale.  This nationally recognized craft brewery was established in 1985 by Randal Sprecher on Milwaukee’s near Southside.  The current facility was opened in 1995 and continues to produce a wide range of traditional and specialty beers and sodas.  We were treated to a tour of the brew house, as well as the bottling and packaging facility.  We concluded the tour in the rathskeller tasting room where everyone was treated to several samples of their choice.

As the clock struck 4:30pm it was time to head back to Discovery World.  Driving south along Martin Luther King Dr. the bus briefly stopped on the corner of W. Burleigh St. where the former site of Pabst Park was once located. Originally, Valentine Blatz purchased the property in 1857 for development as a shooting park, however in 1888 the Phillip Best Brewing Company bought the land and renamed it Pabst Park. Prior to Prohibition it was the location of a large beer garden, amusements and music stages.  Today the property is known as Rose Park and includes a senior center.

By 5pm we had returned to Discovery World after a full day of Milwaukee brewing heritage on the city’s Northside.  Many of the historic sites visited on this tour have never before been the subject of exploration, so it was a unique treat to celebrate those brewing legacies for the first time.  With four distinct Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing tours completed, we have now traversed the entire city and seen first-hand the dozens of historic brewery sites, from the 1840s to today.  Stay tuned for future tours throughout Milwaukee and beyond!

Eyes In The Deep: Exploring the Shipwreck APPOMATTOX

July 15th-17th marked the 5th annual Eyes in the Deep program, where the public are given the opportunity to explore and document local Lake Michigan shipwrecks along Milwaukee’s lakefront. This season, Discovery World once again assembled a team of experts to showcase underwater technology in the exploration and documentation of the shipwreck Appomattox located at the end of Capitol Dr. off Atwater Beach.  Our research platform for this maritime expedition was the Milwaukee Boat Lines bi-level vessel the Voyageur captained by Jake Gianelli.

This year David Thompson of Nautilus Marine Group and Portunes International brought his Proteus ROV (remotely operated vehicle), which were the primary “eyes” on the shipwreck.  Built by Hydroacoustics, the Proteus 500 ROV is 28 inches long x 16 inches wide x 13 inches tall.  It weighs 70 lbs (31.8 kgs) and can dive 500 ft (152 m) using on board rechargeable batters that power two forward thrusters, one vertical thruster and one horizontal thruster.  With around 500 lines of resolution, the video camera can tilt 170 degrees and switch between color or black and white, making it ideal for exploring in low visibility water.

Sector Scan Sonar mosaic of Appomattox, at 30 meters radius per scan

A few weeks before this event, we had the opportunity to work with Dave and his colleague Brian Abbott of Nautilus Marine Group to map the Appomattox shipwreck using acoustic imaging called Sector Scanning Sonar.  Brian has worked internationally on archaeological sites, including mapping the Titanic, so having him here was a great treat.  This preliminary sonar survey was performed off the Adventure Charter Boat catamaran Mai Tai , owned and operated by Captain Rick Hake.  In one weekend we successfully mapped four shipwrecks off Milwaukee.

Original photograph in Historical Collection of the Great Lakes at Bowling Green University

Built in 1896 at the James Davidson shipyard in West Bay City, Michigan, the 319-foot long Appomattox was the largest wooden bulk steamer ever produced on the Great Lakes, and possibly the world.  With an oak hull supported by steel bracing and powered by a triple expansion steam engine, the Appomattox was a truly modern vessel by contemporary standards.  She had an uneventful life on the Great Lakes until the night of November 2nd 1905, when loaded with a cargo of coal, she was blinded by heavy smog and industrial smoke emanating from Milwaukee.  As a result, the Appomattox ran hard aground on a sandbar, just north of the Milwaukee Harbor entrance off the end of Capitol Drive.  Unable to be freed, she was pounded in the heavy surf, stripped of valuables and eventually abandoned.  Today the Appomattox rests in 15-20 feet of water with large sections of her hull still intact.

This site plan was completed by the Wisconsin Historical Society's Underwater Archaeology and Maritime Preservation Program

On Friday July 15th at 10am sharp, the Voyageur left Discovery Worlds’ dock with over 30 middle and high school students onboard, as part of Discovery Worlds’ summer camp program in Underwater Robotics and Underwater Archaeology.  Several adult passengers were also aboard, as we made the forty-five minute voyage to the Appomattox shipwreck.  En route, all were given a presentation about the shipwreck that was previously researched by the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Underwater Archaeology and Maritime Preservation program, as well as the Great Lakes Shipwreck Research Foundation.

Dave Thompson (left) teaches students about the ROV, while students (right) put the finishing touches on their ROVs prior to launch

Prior to arriving at the shipwreck, an auxiliary dive boat captained by Bob Jaeck left ahead of us in order to place a temporary mooring line for the Voyageur to tie off to.  This was done with the help of two divers, Brian Bockholt and Charles Hudson, who then assisted in guiding the ROV into the water.  To everyone’s amazement, within seconds the large shipwreck came into view on the monitors inside Voyageur.   The distinguishing feature of the wreck were the large keelsons, which formed the rigid internal skeleton of the ship.  These enormous oak timbers measure 1.5 feet across and over 30 feet in length.

Photograph by Tamara Thomsen (Wisconsin Historical Society)

Once we were safely on the wreck, the controls were turned over to anyone who wanted to pilot the ROV and explore the site.  We were even able to talk to the divers with the aid of an acoustic earpiece that picked up our voices from a hydrophone that was lowered into the water.  We spent over half an hour exploring the wreck, while the underwater robotics students got a chance to test out their hand-build ROVs.  Despite some buoyancy issues, the students’ ROVs performed very well. One was even fitted with a video camera that allowed us to see the shipwreck from its perspective.

Photograph by Tamara Thomsen (Wisconsin Historical Society)

The final expedition to the Appomattox occurred Sunday morning, July 17th, once again aboard Voyageur.  This time the auxiliary dive boat Mai Tai, captained by Adventure Charter boat captain Rick Hake arrived at the wreck site ahead of Voyageur in order to place the temporary mooring line for the larger Voyageur to tie off to.  Once on station, I put on my dive gear and swam over to Mai Tai, where Kimm Stabelfeldt (president of Great Lakes Shipwreck Research Foundation) and Captain Rick were also ready to SCUBA dive with the ROV and help take measurements.  Wearing a full face mask with a wireless microphone, I was then able to talk to the passengers aboard Voyageur and describe what the ROV and my handheld camera were seeing.  Meanwhile, Kimm Stabelfeldt began drawing a section of the shipwrecks port side as I assisted with measuring.  Of particular note on this dive were the six inch-wide iron reinforcing cross straps, placed inside the hull of the Appomattox when it was built, to give it extra strength.  Once again, anyone who wanted to drive the ROV was allowed to do so, which made for a very memorable experience.

Overall, this year’s Eyes in the Deep went off without a hitch, which for any underwater expedition is a feat.  The big unknown factor is always the weather.  Even though it was quite hot, the important thing was that the lake was calm, making it very comfortable to hover over the shipwreck for over an hour.  Based on the favorable feedback from the participants, it is clear that this expedition was a smashing success and one that serves as a template for future shipwreck explorations.  Stay tuned for that and more hands-on archaeology opportunities offered through Discovery World’s Distant Mirror Archaeology Program.

Discovering New Secrets Beneath Juneau Park In Downtown Milwaukee

Most people would never guess that Juneau Park, located along Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee, was once home to some of Milwaukee’s founding citizens.  While the former homes are no longer standing, over the past four seasons, Discovery World’s staff archaeologist and director of the Distant Mirror archaeology program, Kevin Cullen, has led an archaeological survey in the park to document and excavate the remains of these 19th century affluent residences.


Known as the “Lost Neighborhood” site, this elegant lakefront green space is slowly revealing its buried secrets through hands-on archaeological research and cutting-edge technology.  This years participants in the Lost Neighborhood survey included Milwaukee Area Technical College civil engineering instructor David Langhoff, two of his students, eight Bay View High School students who are part of a semester-long program with Discovery World called “The Art & Archaeology of Me”, several Milwaukee-area residents, a re-enactor and scholar (Rob Nurre) of the 19th century scientist Increase Lapham, as well as members of the Juneau Park Friends.

This years survey focused in former block 106, located in the north third of Juneau Park.  We began work in this section of the park last year, yet, because of the potential for intact buried features it was decided to refocus our attention this season in this area.  The survey began on a sunny Friday, May 20th, with the establishment of the former lot boundaries inside the park, from which we could then determine the location of the former houses inside these lots. Once these former lots were reestablished, three archaeological survey grids were overlaid inside these lots corresponding to the hypothesized house locations.  The intention for these grids were for the use of  ground penetrating radar (GPR) to map the buried remains inside these grids using Discovery Worlds’ Noggin 500 smart cart.


Saturday May 21st began as an overcast Spring morning with the threat of sustained rain.  Despite a subsequent soaking rain, we forged on and began collecting GPR data, soil coring, test excavations, as well as GPS and compass mapping.  Our first test excavation was placed on the western edge of former lot 20 in block 106.  Deed research revealed that this property was first purchased by Charles Church from James Kneeland in the 1860s, but it wasn’t until the early 1870s that Timothy and Mary Dore built a two story brick veneered house and a two story brick veneered carriage house in the rear of the property.  In December of 1876 the Dore’s sold the property to Hugh L. and Margret Johnston for $16,000.  The family owned the property until 1926 when the City purchased it for $68,000 in order to demolish it for the expansion of Juneau Park.


As we began excavating a 50 cm X 50 cm shovel test above the former carriage house / garden shed, we began finding 19th century ceramics, brick fragments, etc. in the first 20 centimeters below the surface.  Below this we encountered a strata of clay between 20-60 cm below the ground surface.  Then all of a sudden we hit a layer of earthenware flower pots, square nails and brick fragments.  This pottery “midden” persisted for another 25+ cm until we hit a limestone base at 85 cm below the surface, which then filled with water.  This halted our excavation, but in all we had uncovered a surprisingly immense amount of late 19th-early 20th century artifacts.  Several of the flower pots were still intact, some of which were nested inside one another.  In all we recovered about 18 earthenware flowerpots, some with visible finger prints of the potter on the exterior!   This was a very exciting find for the students and everyone involved.


We completed our survey on Sunday May 22nd with another interesting discovery.  In another shovel test excavation, we discovered an unassuming prehistoric artifact.  It was a chipped-stone “flake” that is the result of manufacturing a stone tool, likely a spear or arrow point.  While we cannot date this flake accurately, we do know it was made prior to European’s arrival in this area.  Soon we had completed our GPR survey and test excavations, packed up the site and headed back to Discovery World to process the GP data.  The image below is the resulting GPR map of the grid we collected over the pottery midden feature in former lot 20.  The middle depth slice clearly shows the presence of several dense concentrations of artifacts, likely more pottery and construction material.

Overall, everyone was very surprised with what we found and all deserve credit for contributing to the discovery of the Lost Neighborhood of Juneau Park. After all, communities that document and protect their own cultural histories are more conscientious about the importance of preserving the past, which results in a greater appreciation for one’s own sense of place in time and space, particularly in the ever-changing human-built environment.  A final report on the past four seasons of survey will be available following laboratory analysis of the artifacts and GPR data obtained this season.