Eau Claire's Tires along the Yellowstone Trail
In Wisconsin, United States
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The Yellowstone Trail went by the huge factories of the Gillette Tire Company, and likely many of the cars on the trail were equipped with Eau Claire made tires. To follow the Yellowstone Trail in Eau Claire, follow Highway J and then Western Avenue from Lake Hallie to Birch Street, turn south on Putnum street, then west to Madison Street,which turns into Cameron Street.
At the coordinates above, you will find the Internationl Harvestor Warehouse building, now converted into apartments. The entire complex here is now known as Banbury Place, but from 1917 to 1991 it was the economic backbone of Eau Claire as a tire manufacturer.
The rubber tire manufacturing plant was founded in 1916 by R.B. Gillette as the Gillette Safety Tire Company. It was sold in 1940 to the United States Rubber Company, later Uniroyal Inc. In 1942 the facility was sold to the United States government and converted to the manufacture of small caliber ammunition. In 1944 U.S. Rubber reconverted the plant back to synthetic rubber tire production. The Eau Claire plant closed in 1991, following the purchase of Uniroyal Goodrich by Michelin et Cie.
On May 23, 1917, the company produced its first experimental tire. After one year the plant was expanded to a capacity of 500 tires and 500 tubes per day, and its name was changed to Gillette Tire Company.
During the late 1920s, Gillette continued to increase its output, which peaked at 19,000 tires and 14,000 inner tubes daily, with 1,600 workers. The company also experimented with new manufacturing methods, such as water cure processing for inner tubes, and products, such as pneumatic tractor tires.
In 1931, United States Rubber Company purchased a substantial interest in Gillette as part of an effort to obtain a greater share of the automobile tire market. In 1930 U.S. Rubber had signed a contract to supply 90% of the tires sold by Montgomery Ward under its own brand name and the Gillette factory was strategically placed to service Ward's needs in the Midwest. U.S. Rubber was also a major supplier of tires to automobile manufacturers. After 1931, it was said to be the world's largest supplier of original equipment tires by virtue of its contracts with the General Motors Corporation.
U.S. Rubber did not acquire controlling interest in Gillette until 1940. Even then, the plant retained the Gillette name and the "bear for wear trademark" for another decade, and continued to turn out Gillette brand products along with Ward, Atlas, and U.S. Rubber's brand, U.S. Royal. After the formal takeover, U.S. Rubber implemented a program to expand and modernize the Eau Claire factory. Employment was increased to 2,600 workers and tire production capacity restored to pre-depression levels of 9,000 to 11,000 units per day.
More information about tire manufacture in Eau Claire can be found by visiting the Chippewa Valley Museum in Carson Park, which has an exhibit on tire manufacture. You can also read more at this web site:
After visting the now closed tire factory, find the final cache at a nearby park, near the Dells Pond shore, at:
A = 4
B = The last digit of the year the first tire was made here - 3
C = The second digit in the Banbury Place Building Number of what is now the International Harvestor Apartments
D = The third digit of the street address of the International Harvestor building
E = The first digit digit in the Banbury Place Building Number of what is now the International Harvestor Apartments
F = The number of large rusted eyelets in the north wall, above the second story windows of the building
(No hints available.)
Last Updated: on 10/20/2013 3:45:43 PM Pacific Daylight Time (10:45 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum