Loading

26°F

26°F

29°F

23°F

26°F

28°F

29°F

28°F

26°F

27°F

28°F

28°F

29°F
NEWS STORIES

Saving the Ore DockSubmitted: 03/15/2013
Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com


ASHLAND - In Rhinelander, the Hodag symbolizes the community.

In another northern Wisconsin community, it's something else.

And Ashland could be about to lose that icon.

"Everyone has an ore dock story," says Jan Cameron, the Vice President of the Ashland Historical Society Board.

Since it has jutted into Chequamegon Bay since 1916, it figures that folks here have a connection to Ashland's iconic ore dock.

"My grandfather helped build these ore docks," says Jeff Peters, an Ashland native.

"Pretty neat spot to be when it's midnight and the northern lights are out, and you're 21 years old," remembers Fred Tidstrom.

"We've been loving this dock as a community for a long, long, time, and it's really very difficult for us to see it go down," says Cameron.

But as it nears its centennial birthday, this symbol of Ashland's fate looks like it has been written.

Cameron is with the Ashland Historical Museum, a place where you can journey through time with the ore dock.

"It's a massive structure. If you stood it on end, it would be taller than the Sears Tower," she says.

Iron ore mined in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula would come to the Ashland area by train.

Rail cars would follow the tracks onto the top of the dock, and empty their cargo onto waiting barges below.

That ore was shipped to the vibrant steel mills across America.

Between miners and those on the trains, docks, and ships, the process was an economy in itself.

"People identify with a way of life. They're very proud of it, they cherish it. For so many years, so many people got their livelihood off of the ore dock," says State Rep. Janet Bewley, an Ashland Democrat.

Then, in the middle of the 20th century, "as soon as the mines stopped mining, the ore stopped being shipped. It was as simple as that," Cameron says.

The last ship left the dock with ore in 1965.

For more than forty years, Ashland's beloved symbol sat dormant.

Then, the seemingly unthinkable.

"It just became too much of a liability. It's been a bitter pill," Cameron says.

The owners, the Canadian National railroad, after talking with several government groups, started taking it down.

"It's hard. It's hard to see a way of life go away," says Bewley.

But the metal was rusting, the wood was deteriorating, and the concrete was breaking.

The environmental and safety liability was just too much, something tough for natives here to take.

The nearly 100-year old ore dock is not only an iconic image in Ashland.

It's part of something deeper for people who live there, and whose families have lived there for generations.

It's part of their identity.

"Ashland High School is named after the ore dock. They're the Oredockers," says Peters.

Tidstrom was on the 1946 Ashland football team that helped give them that name.

Ashland shocked Wausau High School with a 13-7 upset win.

Wausau had won 46 straight games coming in.

A local sportswriter captured the excitement.

"After the game, he wrote up the story, and he called us the Oredockers. We thought that was pretty cool," Tidstrom remembers.

Now, the monument the team was named after is in danger of vanishing.

"Once it's gone, we get comments as bad as, 'do we get to be the No-Dockers?'" says Cameron.

"I tell them, it isn't the dock, it's the men. They were a proud group of men that had a dangerous job to feed their family. So you're honoring the men, not the dock," says Tidstrom.

Already the upper structure is mostly gone.

Other parts of the dock will continue to be dismantled.

But that doesn't mean the ore dock's legacy has to disappear forever.

The dock's base, everything near or below the waterline, remains in good condition.

"To build upon it is a very do-able thing. It's of a scale that, I think, resonates with people in a much more obtainable way," Bewley says.

Peters is one of the people thinking ahead to new memories that could be made on the new look of the ore dock.

He's not short of ideas.

"Educational interpretive center...a cruise line has expressed interest...transient boat docking facility...fishing piers for kids," says Peters. "The most important thing is if area residents, citizens, want to see the ore dock preserved and renovated, they've got to show their support right now. As I see it, we can win, but we need a real grassroots level of support."

"We will always have a dock. We will always have that. Then we'll have that to build tomorrow on," Bewley says.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS
Two suspects arrested in connection with a stolen credit card Submitted: 12/20/2014

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Thursday we told you the Oneida County Sheriff's Office needed your help finding two people. Deputies believe they used a stolen credit card. Now the two suspects are in custody.

Tips from the public helped the sheriff's office find Andrew Washburn and Brieanna Persike. Both of them are from Wausau.

The stolen card was used on Wednesday in Rhinelander.

The sheriff's office says they will go to court in the future for their involvement in the incident. Deputies say the media and public's help were crucial in finding the suspects.

+ Read More
2014 brings legal gay marriage to WisconsinSubmitted: 12/20/2014

MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin's top story in 2014 was a historic one, as the state joined the ranks of those that allow gay marriage. But plenty of other headlines are worth remembering from the year that was, including Gov. Scott Walker demonstrating his resilience by winning his third election in four years, the theft of a 300-year-old violin and the disturbing case of the Slender Man stabbing.

SAME SEX MARRIAGE

A federal judge in Madison uncorked same-sex marriage in June when she struck down the state's ban. Gay couples across the state rushed to wed over several days before opponents stopped it temporarily. Four months later, the U.S. Supreme Court re-started it when it rejected appeals from gay marriage opponents in five states including Wisconsin, and hundreds of couples rushed to courthouse to exercise their right to marry.

+ Read More
Furry friends get pictures with SantaSubmitted: 12/20/2014

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Some pet owners view their furry friends as their kids. Like some parents, they want their furry child to get a picture with Santa.

That's exactly what pet owners did Saturday. Pawz and Clawz in Rhinelander put together their second Pet Pictures With Santa event.

Store owner Dan Gallagher says he put this together for a local dog organization.

"That's the primary goal for the event. Just to have a really good time for people to come out and be generous to a really good dog rescue organization 'It Matters To One'," said Gallagher.

+ Read More
Humane Society blames lead bullets for bald eagle deathSubmitted: 12/20/2014

Play Video

MILWAUKEE - One bald eagle has died and another is in serious condition in Wisconsin after ingesting lead from ammunition.

The Dane County Humane Society has treated two bald eagles with lead poisoning in the past two weeks. The birds likely swallowed lead while feeding on deer or other wildlife carcasses that had been shot, or by eating waterfowl that had ingested lead.

The first bald eagle survived only a day after it was brought into a Humane Society facility last week with acute lead poisoning. The Humane Society hopes a second bird found Friday will survive.

+ Read More
Police arrest Hamilton protesters blocking highwaySubmitted: 12/20/2014

MILWAUKEE - Dozens of demonstrators have been arrested while blocking traffic on Interstate 43 during a march to protest the death of a black man shot by Milwaukee police earlier this year.

Hundreds of protesters blocked traffic during rush hour Friday, calling for charges against officer who shot and killed 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton in April. Officer Christopher Manney shot Hamilton 14 times after a struggle in a downtown park, spurring weeks of protests. Manney was later fired for not following proper procedure.

+ Read More
People got holiday shopping done at Christmas market in Minocqua Submitted: 12/20/2014

Play Video

MINOCQUA - Many people might be finishing up their Christmas shopping this weekend.

Some people did that shopping at a Christmas market in Minocqua Saturday.

The market was held at Ann Marie's garden shop.

"We wanted to make something festive for the holiday so we set up Christmas market between our store and the Christmas Chalet next door and just for a festive occasion, we're sampling things, we're selling things, just Christmas items," says store owner Ann Marie.

+ Read More
Scientists from UW-Madison win 'Amazing Race'Submitted: 12/20/2014

MADISON - A team of ``Sweet Scientists'' from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has become the latest winner of ``The Amazing Race.''

Amy DeJong and Maya Warren won $1 million and beat out three other teams in the last leg of the race from Manila in the Philippines to Los Angeles.

The finale of the CBS show's 25th season was broadcast Friday night. In the show, Warren jumped from a window like a stunt actor, and DeJong competed in a grueling memorization challenge.

Warren says she wanted to inspire people and show others that she and DeJong were ``much more than lab coats and goggles.''

The ``Sweet Scientists'' team is named for DeJong and Warren's research topics of candy and ice cream.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here