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gation began to make the struggling village a stopping-place. Juneau's log warehouse was the headquarters for gossip. “Here were wont to congregate,” says the chronicler Wheeler, “pioneers and sailors to hear long-expected tidings which had floundered through mud and forests and over prairies for weeks before they reached the settlement; on the same spot the merchants and multitude generally now read from a bulletin the news of the world, which comes fresh and quivering over the wires from every point of the compass once a day.” Such was the irregular, muddy, prosaic beginning of this great and attractive lake port. One hears a pleasant or a comical incident now and then, of Indian threats which sound thrilling, till you find they never amounted to action, and of adventures that were almost perilous; but really there is little romance about it. A town grew up, partly on a sand-hill, and partly in a mud-hole (one being cut down to fill the other up), because men found they could accumulate wealth there. Nearly all this money was to be made through commercial channels, and these channels led down the river and up the
L0ADING A GRAIN STEAMER.
lakes—as channels are very likely to do. However, they were not deep and broad enough for the great vessels which in imagination (and finally in fact) were to enter the port. The first public effort, therefore, was directed toward harbor improvement, but it was several years before the general government would listen to the call for help. Congress was deaf in its Northwest ear, as Major Domo, a famous character, used to say. Finally it appropriated $30,000, and grandly wasted it in the wrong place. The river runs along parallel with the lake shore for more than a mile, only separated from it by a narrow strip of beach. Common-sense suggested the cutting through of this bar close up to the town, but the engineers preferred to construct a harbor a mile away, down at the mouth. The result was that Chicago scored a big point in its rivalry, and Milwaukee a few years later had to make her “straight-cut” through the beach where she should have done it at first. This gave her what some persons have called the best harbor on the upper lakes, albeit it is only a narrow river and two short breakwaters. Now it is proposed to run out into the bay for several hundreds of yards an immense stone jetty, costing a million or two, and thus form the bay into a harbor of refuge; but this is not begun yet.
All these expensive harbor improvements would never have been undertaken, of course, had not the trading post grown with marvellous speed into a city and shipping port; and this, in turn, would never have come about had not there been a rich agricultural region behind it, and a large influx of farming population. When one remembers that fifty years ago Wisconsin was an utter wilderness, a howling, untutored, worthless stretch of forest and prairie; sees now the universal cultivation of all its southern half; marks how the pine woods are disappearing in the north, and how immigrants are scattering themselves singly and in colonies over all that region—he is amazed that so much could have been done in so short a time. But comprehending this fact, the concomitant—namely, that such populous centres should arise as Chicago, Milwaukee, La Crosse, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and the other large towns of the “Golden Northwest”—causes no wonder at all.
With her harbor built, her ships accumulating, Milwaukee was quick to see that she must adopt the new invention of railways, and began to extend lines inland to bring the crops to her granaries. The railways built their tracks down on the flats, and helped to fill in large areas. They placed their stations, freight dépôts, and shops there, and attracted business, until now the old miles square of marsh has dwindled to a few well-curbed canals and deep slips where vessels lie to be loaded. Chiefly, however, the railways served the interests of Milwaukee in making it not only an easily accessible buying market for the rural districts, but the most available point at which to dispose of crops.
In order to handle these vast crops, which are poured into the city at harvesttime and later, several of those enormous buildings called elevators have been built by the railway companies and by private enterprise. All lake-port and sea-port citizens are very familiar with these structures and their use, which is for the storage and transhipment of grain, but they will perhaps pardon an explanation of them to the more benighted people who live off the “trunk lines.”
In order to begin at the beginning—get to the bottom, as it were, of an elevator— one must climb to the very top. The building is perhaps one hundred and fifty feet long by seventy-five feet wide, and, like all of its class, it rises eighty feet or more to the eaves, above which a narrow top part, forty or fifty feet higher, is perched upon the ridge-pole. It is built of wood, sheathed with corrugated iron a lit
Private reside NCES.
tle way up, and then slated the rest of the way. Entering one end, where two railway tracks run into the building, we find a narrow wooden stairway, and begin our ascent. The flights are short ones, but eighteen are stepped over before we emerge into the topmost attic. Alongside of us, as we climbed, has been running the strong belt which carries the power from the great engine on the ground-floor to the gearing in the roof–a belt of rubber canwas four feet wide, and perhaps two hundred and fifty feet long.
When grain is bought—perhaps a hundred car-loads from the vast fields of Dakota or the wide farms between here and St. Paul—the train is backed right into the elevator, and stands so that opposite each car door is a receiver, which is a kind of vat, or hopper, in the platform. By the help of steam-shovels, operating almost automatically, two men in each car will in ten minutes or less empty the whole train. As fast as the grain is dumped, the receiver delivers it to iron buckets holding about a peck each, which are attached to endless belts, and travel up a sort of chimney, called a “leg,” to this roof chamber. These buckets will hoist 6000 bushels an hour at their ordinary rate of speed. That is equal to one bucket going up 24,000 times, at the rate of 400 times a minute—tolerably lively work! To-day up here in the topmost loft there is nothing doing, and we are saved strangulation. The light hardly penetrates through the cobwebbed windows, and the most pulverous of dust lies everywhere half an inch deep, showing the marks of a few boot soles, many foot-prints of rats, and the lace-like tracks of hundreds of spiders and bugs. You step over and under broad horizontal belts as you make your way gingerly from one end of the attic to the other. They run the fans that winnow the grain as it comes up in the buckets, after which it is dropped into the hoppers, ten feet wide, and twice as deep, that open like hatchways every few feet in the centre of the floor. Now all is perfectly quiet; we are so high that even the clamor of the wharves does not reach us. But when the machinery starts in motion, then fearful roars, and clash of cogs, and whipping of slackened belts, assault the garret, until this whole upper region rocks like a ship in a gale, and chaff and dust cloud the eyes and stifle the throat. Descending one story, we find another garret, with nothing in it but the square bodies of the hoppers. Going down a second flight shows us that the hoppers are suspended not upon pillars, but loosely on iron stirrups, so as to shake a little, and the iron gate which lets on or shuts off the fall of the grain through the tubular orifice at the bottom is operated by steam. There are twelve of these hoppers. Sticking up through the floor underneath each one gape the flaring mouths of twelve spouts or sluices, all of which point directly at the gate in the hopper, as though earnestly begging its bounty of grain. Every one of these 144 spouts leads into a bin, near or distant, and all are numbered, so that the superintendent knows which spout conducts to any one bin, and can distribute his cargoes accordingly, the result of his choice being recorded in cabalistic abbreviations upon a blackboard close by. A movable conductor is swung into place between the hopper and the spout, the gate pulled open, and down slides the wheat, with a musically rushing noise, into the grateful bin. To see the bins we descend again, this time reaching the top of the wide part of the building. We walk very circumspectly, in the half-light, amid a maze of beams, stringers, and cross-pieces of wood and iron. The whole interior of the elevator below this level is now seen to consist of a series of rooms, between which there is no communication. They are ceilingless, and the only exit from them is through a
spout in the bottom. Peering over the edges from the narrow foot-walks, we can only guess how far the person would fall who should lose his balance, for the eye can not reach the bottom: it is sixty-five feet below, and hidden in darkness. Of these deep bins there are 144, some twice the size of others. Sometimes they are all full at once, and hold eight or nine hundred thousand bushels, weighing fifty millions of pounds, and good for over two hundred thousand barrels of flour. Yet it was not until the winter of 1840 that the first cargo of grain was ever shipped from this port, and it required the whole winter to accumulate 4000 bushels. Forty years have passed, and there are now in Milwaukee no less than nine elevators, which have a storage capacity varying from 200,000 to 1,000,000 bushels each, the total capacity being 5,330,000 bushels. They can ship over a million bushels a day, but can take in only about half as much, the grain requiring twice the time and trouble to go up as it does to come down. Every available foot of stor
VIEW ON THE RIVErr.
age space, I am told, was required last winter (1879–80) to accommodate the business here, and then there was not room enough. What is the reason for this large and steady growth against the powerful competition of a great neighbor It is found in the fact that Milwaukee wheat has from the first been subjected to the most rigorous and honest inspection, and the grade No. 1, or No. 2, or any other grade marked as such, is known in Liverpool or Mark Lane to be precisely what it is stamped. So trustworthy is this brand and reputation that Milwaukee's wheat, derived from just the same fields as Chicago's or Duluth's, will fetch one or two cents more a bushel every time. These elevators are almost all owned by railway companies, and constitute an important element in their power throughout the Northwest, while at the same time they are a source of great strength to the city in its race with competitors, since the railway lines strive to direct all the grain trade to Milwaukee, cutting out Chicago and other rivals. The greatest of all these railways, whose existence is so vital to the city, is the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul, which owns enough miles of track to make a road— side tracks and all—from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Its lines ramify through the whole Northwest, and are to be “pro
duced” (as we say in geometry) all over the Northern plains from the Black Hills to Athabasca Lake. Feeding this artery to supply the Milwaukee elevators are the Northern Pacific, the railway from Manitoba, the lines which enter St. Paul and Minneapolis from Dakota, Nebraska, and Northern Iowa, the various other railways coming eastward through Southern Wisconsin. In addition to this, the great Chicago and Northwestern company send a powerful branch here, and help to make Milwaukee a point intermediate between Eastern and Western traffic. Over the West Wisconsin road come the staples from the Chippewa, Eau Claire, and St. Croix regions. Three routes lead to Green Bay and the northern part of the State. The Wisconsin Central now extends a clear line from Milwaukee to Ashland, Lake Superior, running almost directly through the centre of the State, and opening up a country rich in prospects. At present it is chiefly useful as a lumber road, but settlement upon its abundant lands is proceeding rapidly, and when the proposed connecting link between it and the Northern Pacific at Duluth is made, it will become a second channel through which the wheat of the Upper Missouri prairies can flow into Milwaukee's granaries. Several shorter lines have lately been opened, contributing to the city's prosperity; and a route, no doubt some day to be built, is projected as an air-line road to St. Louis, which shall take in great coal-fields on its way. Such a road might be an important accession to the manufacturing interests, in reducing the cost of fuel, which is now brought from the