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Port Wing in Bayfield County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Port Wing Brown Stone

 
 
Port Wing Brown Stone Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devon Polzar, 2022
1. Port Wing Brown Stone Marker
Inscription.  The familiar sandstone outcroppings along Lake Superior's shoreline provided a popular building material for grand and massive structures all over the Midwest and Eastern United States throughout the last half of the Nineteenth and into the Twentieth Centuries. What spelled doom for the brownstone industry was the development of skyscraper and steel girder construction.

Brownstone is billion year old sandstone made up mostly of quartz, feldspar, iron oxide and silica. It is the iron oxide that gives it the reddish color. Fossil and pebble free, it has great strength, and because it is quite soft when first quarried can be cut and carved for attractive architectural use. It hardens with exposure. The very best grade of brownstone is said to have come from the Port Wing area.

Quarrying activities around Port Wing began in 1889 when stone was cut in Section 25 T.50N-R.9W on land leased from Issac Wing. Shortly thereafter a quarry was opened on the Iron River just South of the Orienta Townsite.

In 1895, Joseph, John and Ole Miller of Duluth purchased 68 acres of land on Quarry Point, land originally owned by Maggie McCardle.
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Their company, Lake Superior Brownstone, began operations later that same year. Stone was cut and barged across to Duluth for finishing.

At the Port Wing site, steam drills were used for boring holes in the rock. A steam powered channeler would make an 8 to 10 foot slice, after which three or four-foot chunks would be cut crosswise from the bed and hoisted out. The company operated one channeler, two gang saws and two derricks.

Miller Brothers sold to Portage Entry Quarries in April of 1903. By then the property had grown in size to 114 acres. Three years later it was again sold, this time to George Froney representing Port Wing Quarries Co. In 1909 Port Wing Quarries sold to Kettle River Quarries Company and they in turn sold to John A. Smith and William Penn of Minneapolis in 1921. George Froney continued as general manager under each new ownership for as long as the quarry stayed in business. It ceased operation in 1929.

Stone from Port Wing was used in the Wisconsin Building at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. It was also used in William Jennings Bryan's home in Lincoln, Nebraska; George Crosby's home in Duluth; and the Martin Patterson Mansion in Superior. The Department of Interior Building in Washington, D.C. was constructed of Port Wing Brownstone. These are only a few examples of well-known structures in which our stone was used.

Locally,
Port Wing Brown Stone Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devon Polzar, 2022
2. Port Wing Brown Stone Marker
the basement floor of the Port Wing School, the foundations of the Lutheran Parsonage, and the O.T. Bagstad warehouse were constructed of Brownstone.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureIndustry & Commerce.
 
Location. 46° 46.514′ N, 91° 23.196′ W. Marker is in Port Wing, Wisconsin, in Bayfield County. Marker is on State Highway 13, on the right when traveling west. The marker is located in School Memorial Park along State Highway 13. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Port Wing WI 54865, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 3 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. School Consolidation (a few steps from this marker); "The Gym" (approx. 7 miles away); Moquah Natural Area (approx. 13.7 miles away).
 
Port Wing Brown Stone Marker and Brownstone image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devon Polzar, 2022
3. Port Wing Brown Stone Marker and Brownstone
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 10, 2022. It was originally submitted on July 8, 2022, by Devon Polzar of Port Washington, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 239 times since then and 96 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 8, 2022, by Devon Polzar of Port Washington, Wisconsin. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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May. 28, 2024