“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Stevens Point in Portage County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Buttons from the River

Buttons from the River Marker image. Click for full size.
By Keith L, August 25, 2007
1. Buttons from the River Marker
Inscription. The residents of Stevens Point depended on the Wisconsin River not only to transport logs, but also to provide clam shells for the button industry. The clammers found an abundance of quality shells in the river to support a commercial venture. In 1920, a factory at the foot of Franklin Street opened to stamp out circular button “blanks” from the pearly surface inside the shell. The remaining shell looked similar to a batch of dough from which cookies have been cut.

Clams were picked by hand where the water was shallow enough to wade. In deeper water, clammers used flat bottomed “johnboats,” with bars on either side. Attached to the bars were “crowfeet,” small hooks resembling birdís feet dangling from several chains. The hooks dragged across the river bottom until they hit the open mussel. Then the clam snapped its shell shut over the hooks, the bars were raised and clams removed.

Live clams were steamed in long metal bottomed, wood-sided troughs to expose the meat. Once the clams opened up, the meat was easily removed and discarded. The clams were also examined for pearls. The steaming and cleaning of the shells was done on Second Island – now underwater – located west of Bukolt Park.
Erected by Stevens Point Parks, Recreation,
Buttons from the River Marker image. Click for full size.
By Keith L, August 25, 2007
2. Buttons from the River Marker
and Forestry Department.
Location. 44° 31.631′ N, 89° 35.756′ W. Marker is in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, in Portage County. Marker is on Franklin Street 0.2 miles west of Forest Street when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is near the Wisconsin River by the northwest corner of Pfiffner/Pioneer Park. Marker is in this post office area: Stevens Point WI 54481, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Stevens Point — Gateway to the Pineries (approx. half a mile away); Saint Peter Church War Memorial (approx. half a mile away); Airborne Forces Memorial Bridge (approx. half a mile away); Public Square (approx. 0.6 miles away); First Public Building (approx. 0.7 miles away); Portage County Civil War Memorial (approx. 0.9 miles away); The Boy with the Leaking Boot (approx. 1.1 miles away); St. Stanislaus Church World War II Memorial (approx. 1.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Stevens Point.
Categories. Industry & Commerce
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 937 times since then and 47 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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