Milwaukee's First Baseball Team
In Wisconsin, United States
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A little known fact about Wisconsin's sports history is that its very first Major League Baseball team was named the Milwaukee Cream Citys. The Milwaukee Cream Citys lasted only one season in the National League (1878) and posted a 15 and 45 record.
The basis for the teams name came from a type of brick that was produced in and around Milwaukee from the mid 19th up into the early 20th century. Because of the yellow coloring to these bricks, they were aptly named "Cream City Bricks". As the early Milwaukee skyline filled with buildings constructed of these bricks, Milwaukee acquired the nickname "Cream City".
The clay found adjacent to Lake Michigan and in the Menominee River Valley is the richest source of material found anywhere in the north central part of the United States. Starting in the 1830's, local entrepreneurs used this abundant supply of clay to their advantage and began manufacturing bricks. These clay deposits are "mainly" composed of Limestone detritus with smaller amounts of Dolostone adding to the mix. Detritus is non-living particulate organic material, as opposed to dissolved organic material. Detritus typically contains communities of microorganisms which decompose (or remineralize) the limestone (and Dolostone) which had been powdered and pulverized by glacial movements, river erosion and other factors. These Lacustrine(lake) deposits, along with Estuarine(river) deposits, combined and settled in calm waters, to create the clay layers. These layers have a thickness of up to one hundred fifty feet and vary in color from a reddish brown to a grayish blue. Once the clay was kiln fired to make the brick, high proportions of Calcium (from Limestone) and Magnesium (from Dolomite) found within the clay, caused the brick to turn yellowish in color.
Growth and Distribution:
These bricks had great strength and durability and were weather-resistant, giving them the ability to fend off the harsh Midwest climate. Many buildings constructed with these bricks in the 19th century are still standing to this day.The cream colored bricks were a major alternative to the common red brick which seemed to be found anywhere and everywhere. Due to Milwaukee's location, shipping was both easy and convenient for local brick manufacturers. Many boats left Milwaukee harbors loaded with bricks headed to numerous ports around the Great Lakes. Railroad expansion soon made it possible for transport of these bricks to cities nationwide, and from there.....Worldwide. Buildings as far away as Hamburg, Germany have been constructed using Milwaukee made bricks. For these reasons they became a top export, aiding in the growth of the Milwaukee economy.
Pollution and Coloring:
Although durable, Cream City Bricks were porous. This porosity allowed for the absorbtion of dirt and other pollutants to enter the brick. Over time, the yellow coloring of the bricks gave way to a darker, dirtier look. Because of this discoloring, many of these buildings were painted or covered over with various types of siding. Many were pressure washed or chemically cleaned in an attempt to maintain there original luster without much success. The possibilty exists that you could pass an example of this brickwork every day and never know it was of Cream City brick construction.
Milwaukee's first cream brick structure was erected in 1836. By 1853, over six million bricks were being produced annually with one-third of those being shipped out of state. By the early 1900s competition from Chicago brick manufacturers, and a taste shift to darker masonry, led to the demise of the Milwaukee brick industry. As the 20th century began, advances in construction methods and improved materials, such as concrete and steel, brought an end to the era of brick making in Milwaukee.
The pattern of placing bricks in the construction of a wall is called the bond. The bond creates a visible pattern on the surface of the wall. There are many different bonds used in construction today. In recent times stretcher bond has predominated, mainly because of the speed with which it can be laid. There are, however, other traditional methods including Flemish, English, Rat Trap, Header and more, which saw more usuage in the past. The diagram below shows a few of these bond patterns.
The Lighthouse Depot in Milwaukee was responsible for the construction of lighthouses all around the shores of Lake Michigan. Construction supplies were purchased locally and shipped to the various building sites. Thus, cream city bricks became the most widely used in Lake Michigan lighthouse construction.
Lighthouses, such as Eagle Bluff (pictured above), have withstood rather well over time. But, as in any industry, some of the local brickyards' output was of inferior quality. Some lighthouses, such as Cana Island, began to deteriorate within a few decades of construction. Some would require encasing with steel plates to protect them from deterioration. So remember, the next time you visit a lighthouse anywhere around the Lake Michigan shoreline and it is covered in steel plating, it might actually have been an ordinary cream city brick lighthouse to begin with.
At the coordinates you will find a building constructed from "Cream City" Brick. Garner your answers from this building. The attached building in the rear was used as a horse stable back in the day.
Email your answers to the questions, to me, using the link in my profile only. If the answers are not recieved, your log will be deleted. You do not have to wait for confirmation from me before logging this cache as completed. Photos are accepted and appreciated as long as the answers to the questions are not revealed. Most of all……Learn……and enjoy the view.
1. Is the color consistent from brick to brick?
2. Is the size and shape consistant from brick to brick?
3. Do the bricks appear to be pollution stained or are they in good shape for having been here since 1881?
4. What bond was used in the construction of this building? (answer is on cache page)
5. What is the name of this building?
(No hints available.)
Last Updated: on 07/31/2016 13:30:28 Pacific Daylight Time (20:30 GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum