Looking for a wishing well

What are the things that puzzle, enrage, delight and tickle you as you go about your life in Madison?
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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby Smutterly » Sat Sep 04, 2010 6:56 am

I'll say hi to your dad on my way down to McCrory's to have something at the counter. If that doesn't appeal to me I'll head down the the dirtiest Burger King ever with the big double door opening and the coolest ordering flexible microphone thingy ever. After that I'll check out jeans at County Seat. I think my brother got in trouble when he was about 7 for trying to fish coins out of the fountain. I really loved the rough stone exterior of that fountain. Sooooo 70's....everything in my house has the same exterior. Roughest toilet seat ever!

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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby jackisonian » Sat Sep 04, 2010 10:32 am

'70's mall stuff, eating booze candy and all the samples at Swiss Colony when I was a kid.

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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby Dust Mite Rodeo » Sat Sep 04, 2010 1:29 pm

Thusnelda wrote:earworm

Gordon Lightfoot:

Just like an old time movie
'bout a ghost from a wishin' well...

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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby green union terrace chair » Sat Sep 04, 2010 4:14 pm

frozenCow wrote:A LOT OF WORDS

Wow, thank you for writing that all out. I'm always interested to read histories of the downtown, but anything about the west side is quite sparse and hard to find. It's very interesting how that area developed (the parts that were planned out well versus the not-so-good parts). I have so many questions now!

Did the bus go out to West Towne when it was first built?

Very funny what you say about the former route of Whitney Way. When I look at google maps, there's that telltale treeline right there. How many times have I been past there and I never noticed it. However, I do recall when horses roamed that area, back when University Research Park had a lot of farming uses.

I knew the Beltline wasn't built directly to its current form today, but had no idea that there were so many accessible intersections. Was the speed limit lower, like 45mph? And to the east, it ended (or rather became) Broadway, correct?

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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby frozenCow » Sun Sep 05, 2010 2:32 am

green union terrace chair wrote:Wow, thank you for writing that all out.

Thanks. Sometimes I get negative feedback or no feedback at all about my ramblings. Glad you found it interesting.

green union terrace chair wrote:Did the bus go out to West Towne when it was first built?

Couldn’t tell you about bus service in the first years of West Towne. But by the mid 70s I know there was bus service. Even Middleton had bus service then (and being so far away, that was the most time consuming route they had).

green union terrace chair wrote:I knew the Beltline wasn't built directly to its current form today, but had no idea that there were so many accessible intersections. Was the speed limit lower, like 45mph? And to the east, it ended (or rather became) Broadway, correct?

Traffic on the beltline wasn’t at a slower speed limit, there was just less traffic. I didn't start driving until later in the 70s, but I believe the speed limit was always 55mph with the exception of the Broadway stretch in Monona which was slowed to 40mph. I think even that Broadway stretch was originally 50 or 55mph and got slowed to 40mph later. I remember in the 1960s when Bridge Rd and Monona Dr were controlled by stop signs to enter the beltline (Broadway). The stoplights came after the first remodel of Monona Dr in 1966.

And yes, prior to 1988, the eastbound beltline turned north into Broadway right about where the South Towne Dr overpass is today.

This undated photo shows that:
Judging by the fact you can see houses in Monona and the East Side (instead of trees covering houses) I would date this photo in the early 1960s. The view is looking east. The interchange (in the lower left of the photo) is the current John Nolen exit. The Nob Hill restaurant mentioned in the link text sits up on top of Nob Hill (located in the lower right of the photo). That is the current location of WEAC. The empty field (in the upper right of the photo) is the current location of South Towne. As noted in the text, that field was the sight of Royal Airport (known earlier as Pennco Field) which was one of the first (if not the first) airports in Madison. That was in the 1930s. The Toki Farm mentioned in the text can be seen east of Nob Hill and south of the beltline just before that turn north to Broadway. The west side's Toki Middle School is named in honor of Akira Toki whose family farmed here. Coincidentally, the Whitehorse family lived up the road in Monona (The east side's Whitehorse Middle School in named in honor of Annie Whitehorse).

If you review old maps of Madison (and talk to old-timers) you’ll find that there was no beltline connecting east and west until the 1950s. With the exception of the Broadway section, the beltline as we know it didn’t exist prior to the 50s. Broadway was old Hwy 12, coming into Madison from Cambridge (much like it does today), winding its way through what is now Monona, and meandering down to what is currently John Nolen Dr (or rather, Olin Ave) and entering South Madison. Prior to 1932 there was some variation of traversing country roads (taking a route through Monona via Femrite Dr, Frost Woods Rd, Bridge Rd, and the country road that preceded Broadway). But by the early 30s, a “modern” highway was built along Broadway’s current route. You have probably heard of the Wonder Bar on Olin Ave and how it was a hangout for Chicago mobsters in the 30s. Its location kind of makes sense when one considers that Hwy 12 was the main route from Chicago. West of Nob Hill (the current John Nolen interchange) the beltline did not exist. I’ve been told (or read somewhere – I forget) that bootleggers once used lantern signals to warn each other of raids. A signal from the speakeasies on Bridge Rd could be seen on Nob Hill, and then a signal from Nob Hill could warn the Wonder Bar. I don’t know if that really happened, but I think about it sometimes when I’m driving by at night.

On the west side, there was no beltline prior to the 1950s either. But if you look at the old maps, you see that there was a section of County M that followed the path of the current beltline from Mineral Point Rd to Middleton. Also, there was a country road that connected Fish Hatchery Rd to Seminole Hwy, that was roughly where the beltline is today (prior to the 1970 rebuild I mentioned in my last post, you could see a remnant of that old road just north of the beltline near Seminole Hwy).

So they did use some existing routes when they built the beltline, but the Broadway section was probably just slightly modified, whereas that road between Fish Hatch and Seminole (and probably County M) was completely redone.

This is a photo showing Pennco Field in about 1930.
The view is looking east. You can compare it to the previous photo (note the lack of houses in Monona and the East Side). The road running vertically (left of center in the photo) is the country road that preceded Broadway. You can see an airplane hanger just off of that road, with a large field behind it. Today South Towne is located where that field is. The road running horizontally (across the bottom of the photo) is Raywood Rd. When they rebuilt these roads in the early 30s to make Broadway a “modern” highway, they added a distinctive curve just south of the "L" shape of the intersection of these two roads, to divert traffic from having to navigate the "L". That became the site of the original Curve diner (“The Curve”). Today South Town Dr covers most of Raywood Rd, and the distinctive curve was modified and lost in the 1988 rebuild. However a remnant of Raywood Rd (including the "L" shaped intersection shown here) remains today. The flat roofed building shown here on Raywood Rd (in the lower left of the photo) is today the bar known as the South Bay Lounge. I think that house still stands too.

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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby snoqueen » Sun Sep 05, 2010 10:49 am

Hy 12 east to west:

In the 50's, it came from Cambridge (two lanes only) to Broadway in Monona. The cloverleaf intersection with I-90 was built around 1958, a very early part of the national interstate system (a cold war Eisenhower administration thing intended to help evacuate cities in the event of nuclear attack -- the width of the lanes was determined by the width needed to accommodate a tank).

Broadway itself had several configurations but the one involving the curve (shown in pics above) is the most "fifties." At one earlier point in time I think the main highway was actually Femrite to Badger Road -- if you check Google Maps, Badger Road forms a pretty straight shot east-west across the land in that area. The 77 Sirloin Strip bar is a very old pre-WWII roadhouse -- sometimes you can track old highways by what was built alongside.

Hy 12 then went west past Nob Hill (as shown) and tracked north up Olin Ave via some country roads long buried. You can see an old highway bridge -- so narrow! -- behind the Family Service building, near the bike path. This was before the John Nolen causeway. You reached downtown via Olin to Park Street, then north. Your route passed the Greenbush neighborhood (pre urban development) where the intersection at Regent and Park had, I think, an Italian restaurant on all four corners. There's got to be a historical society photo of that area, but I'm impatient so I'll leave it to others to find.

At Park and University, the heart of campus in those days, Hy. 12 continued west on University Avenue. It went up "old University" past Lombardino's before the bypass went in. You went out in the country shortly after passing Lombardino's. Midvale Boulevard was added later on -- the north-south farm road was Owen. The age of the trees and lack of modern grading along Owen show its antiquity.

The old part of the Century House was a Hy 12 landmark as was the curious little fieldstone motel (now apartments) on the north side of the road a little further west. I'd always beg my parents to stop us there for the night, but we were on our way north toward Chippewa, at least a seven hour drive in those days. Don't forget that Hy 12 was the main Chicago-Minneapolis road (paralleled by the Soo Line railroad) and ALL traffic, truck and car, local and long-distance, was on that same narrow little route.

After some miles in the country, you'd get to Middleton where you came to the intersection at Parmenter with the gas station (what's the cross street?) and turned right on your way "up north." There was a cluster of motels a mile or so up the road, probably the first night's lodging for travelers from Chicago to the Dells and the north woods. A few still remain, or their skeletons remain. Morey Airport was on your left, if I'm not mistaken.

No west beltline at all, though. The west side was historically a grid of simple north-south farm roads like most of rural Wisconsin, not on the main northwest highway. The main route northwest ran right through the middle of campus until the 60s.

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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby frozenCow » Tue Sep 07, 2010 1:19 am

Sno, I’m in agreement except for the part about Badger Rd being part of Hwy 12. True, it’s a straight East-West road, but I’ve studied the old maps for years and I can tell you that at best it came near Hwy 12. Looking at a 1940 plat book, Badger Rd started at Fish Hatchery Rd, went east across Hwy 14 (which was in a slightly different location than today), crossed Rimrock Rd, and stopped at a road that is probably today’s Badger Ln (which ran from the end of Badger Rd south to Moorland Rd). So it looks like going east on Badger Rd could have taken you to Rimrock Rd to Olin Ave (Hwy 12) , or it could have taken you to Badger Ln to Moorland Rd to Raywood Rd (which became part of Hwy 12).

** START of Highway 12 route History (WARNING, potential boredom) **
Prior to 1931, Hwy 12 from East to West was (using modern names) Femrite Dr, Frost Woods Rd, Bridge Rd, Broadway, Raywood Rd, Royal Ave, a road that no longer exists, Olin Ave, Park St, and University Ave. Monona Dr was part of Hwy 51 and prior to 1931 it did not go further south than Femrite Dr. So Prior to 1931, Hwy 51 came south from Deforest to E Washington Ave (like today) and then (using modern names) Winnebago St, Atwood Ave, Monona Dr, Femrite Dr, Dutch Mill Rd, and Terminal Dr.

In 1931 there was a paving project that built a new Hwy 12 & 18 along the path Broadway takes today, through the marshy area from Bridge Rd to Dutch Mill Rd. The section of Dutch Mill Rd that exists today between Broadway and Femrite Dr was built then, and Hwy 51 (Monona Dr) was also extended south from Femrite Dr to the new Hwy 12 & 18 (Broadway). After 1931, Hwy 51 followed Monona Dr south to Broadway to Terminal Dr.

So from1931 until they actually built the beltline in the 50s, Hwy 12 from the East was Femrite Dr, Dutch Mill Rd, Broadway, Raywood Rd, Royal Ave, a road that no longer exists, Olin Ave, Park St, and University Ave. In 1949, the stretch of Hwy 12 & 18 through Monona was named Broadway. In 1950, a new Hwy 51 was built from E. Washington to Broadway, along the route it takes today. Sometime in the 50s (after they built the tank farm on Terminal Dr) Hwy 51 south of Hwy 12& 18 was moved further east to its current location (away from Terminal Dr) because of safety concerns over a highway driving so close to a tank farm.
** END of Highway 12 route History **

OK, now for the fun part.
This is a photo of the old Dane County Fairgrounds (where the Coliseum/Alliant Energy Center is today) taken in about 1930. The view is looking south. Olin Ave (Hwy 12 & 18) is the road crossing diagonally across the bottom of the photo. Using a 1940 plat book as my guide (which shows this race track and its orientation to other roads), I would say the road coming straight toward the right curve of that track is today’s Rusk Ave. It stops short of the track and a road continues to the right, along a tree line that I believe is today’s Koster St. I thought at first that the road running to the left of the track was Rimrock Rd, but the map shows it to be much further away from the track. However, it could be Rimrock. Somewhere in the distance is Badger Rd (Rusk comes north from Badger). I think the road in the upper right hand corner (and diagonally in the upper middle background) is old Hwy 14.

I couldn’t find any photos of Spaghetti Corners (Park & Regent in Greenbush a.k.a. “The Bush”), but this is close. This is a classic Angus McVicar photo taken from the old railroad bridge near Park & Dayton, looking south down Park St in 1934. That section was a little like Gasoline Alley.

This is the corner of Park St & Olin Ave in 1938, looking north. Note the road signs on the utility pole identifying all the Highways merging there.

This is the same corner of Park St & Olin Ave in 1948, looking north.

This is the same corner of Park St & Olin Ave in 1948, looking south.

I couldn’t resist this one, this is a 1948 Arthur Vinje photo taken from about Dayton St looking south at a flooded Park St.

They must have had some bad flooding in the 40s, because further down Hwy 12, there was this scene in 1947: This is looking west from the intersection of Midvale Blvd and University Ave. The photographer is standing about right where you would exit University Ave today to enter Copps, looking west up that hill on University Ave towards the Hill Farms State Office Building. The photo was part of a news story about flooding in a trailer court that must have been located where Hilldale is now. Didn't the same thing happen at this intersection in the 90s?

After WWII there was a serious housing shortage in Madison due to returning veterans (many with families) going to school, and temporary trailer camps sprung up all over town. I’ve found other photos related to trailer camps near Olin Park, and on campus locations like the grounds of Camp Randall.

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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby bassbari » Tue Sep 07, 2010 1:59 pm

OMG this has to be one of the best detailed descriptions of Madison and the highways coming and going. I always wondered where the old routes went. I use the Historical Society website all the time to imagine what it was like. And this enhances my understanding of what was where in Madison. You are up there with Levitan and Mollenhoff as far as histories. My compliments to your research.

In the 1930's my family lived in Rockford but had a summer cottage on the south side of Lake Waubesa. My dad used to talk about as a kid seeing the Winnebago (Ho Chunk) Indians selling or trading baskets in the area where the Whitehorse family had their business on Broadway. It makes sense. I don't know which way they went to the square but I bet it was Highway 51. They would go all the way into town to the Capitol Theater and stop at Badger Candy Kitchen on the way to see a movie. It must have been a trek. Mom is 89 now but says that they would come in to town through Oregon via old highway 14 Oregon now MM and make a right on Cty. B. Highway 51 was too far east if you can imagine. I went by there recently and the cottages are still there in Braxton Park.
My family has had connections with Madison for over 80 years. And this just adds to it. Thanks
How about a trip on 151, 51 or 18 next time?

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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby Nick Berigan » Tue Sep 07, 2010 3:41 pm

Thanks for that pic looking west on Univ. One of the starkest memories I have as a child (in the early 50's) was evacuating Burbank Place every time it rained significantly to my relatives' house on the east side. We always called our little swamp "the OTHER Shorewood."

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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby frozenCow » Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:21 pm

Thanks for the kind words bassbari and Nick.

Glad you enjoyed the text and photos. The photos I've posted here are some of my favorites.

Angus McVicar took many photos of car accident locations, which gives us some good shots of the highways of his time. Here are some Broadway photos:

This is a 1941 photo of the intersection of Broadway and Monona Dr (Hwy 12 & 18 and Hwy 51). The view is looking west down Broadway, Monona Dr is intersecting on the right (north) side. It was called Femrite’s Corners because the Femrite family ran a filling station there (shown on the right where a PDQ is today). I’m always amazed how rural this scene looks, like it could be somewhere in northern Wisconsin instead of 6 miles away from the Capitol Square.

This is the same accident in 1941, taken from Monona Dr (Hwy 51) looking south to Broadway (Hwy 12 & 18). The Femrite filling station is on the left. The asphalt Monona Dr roadbed looked like this up until 1966 when it was widened and rebuilt in concrete. This intersection didn’t get a stoplight until then either.

Here is another McVicar photo of an accident site taken in 1948. The view is looking east down Broadway (Hwy 12 & 18) towards the intersection of Bridge Rd. The photographer is standing on the north side of Broadway (across the street from where WPS is today). The Club Hollywood dance hall they are referring to in the text was located on Bridge Rd (the building was torn down in the mid 70s to build Metropolitan Mall, which today is a vacant office building). What amazes me about this photo is how little this intersection had changed by the mid 60s when I remember it (right down to the old black and white painted wooden highway posts). It wasn’t until the late 60s that it finally got a stoplight (about the time of the Monona Dr rebuild in ‘66).

What Wisconsin highway wouldn’t be complete without a roadside attraction like a cheese stand? I remember this place. It was located on the south side of Broadway, just east of the intersection with Monona Dr. I last recall noticing it in the late 70s. This would be about the eastern edge of the Pier 37 shopping center today. This 1954 photo is taken from Broadway, looking southwest.

Nick, these next photos ares closer to your old stomping grounds (without the flood waters).

OK, other end of Hwy 12. This is a 1929 Angus McVicar photo of a Texaco station on US 12 (he photographed a lot of gas stations too). The text description places the location at the 2900 block of University Ave. Based on the curve of the road, I’m guessing the view is looking east. That would place this Texaco station in the vicinity of today’s Bagels Forever.

Another dairy based roadside attraction, Angus McVicar captures this ice cream parlor in all its glory. This is the 2900 block of University Ave again, but the year is 1945. Based on the curve of the road (and the railroad track emerging from behind the building on the right), I’m guessing the view is looking west. The text description mentions a Texaco station across the road, which can be seen up the street on the left. I’m betting it’s the Texaco station in the previous photo. That would place this Milk bar just west of today’s University Station. I love that old street light dangling over the street. You could still see such lights in use around the suburban parts of town in the 60s and up to the early 70s.

Here’s another classic Hwy 12 photo that just looks like the 40s. Taken somewhere on University Ave in August 1946 (the description text says the view is east), I see another old street light swaying in the breeze overhead. Could it be the same one in the previous photo? Maybe looking the other way? Could be. Or it could be a block or two east, closer to town. I see a bar on the right with a distinctive Blatz Beer sign on the roof, and the block lettering on the side of the building that says somebody’s tavern. That could be another bar on the right too (behind the kid on the bike). On the left more gas stations and a Coca Cola sign, maybe from a diner. Just a highway leading into a sleepy college town.

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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby Average Joe » Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:00 pm

Thanks frozen & sno for the effort and detail you put into your posts. It's appreciated. I wish Stu, being the resident historian, would pipe in with his knowledge. This is a good tangent for a thread to take.

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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby kissyfish » Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:13 pm

Nick Berigan wrote:Thanks for that pic looking west on Univ. One of the starkest memories I have as a child (in the early 50's) was evacuating Burbank Place every time it rained significantly to my relatives' house on the east side. We always called our little swamp "the OTHER Shorewood."


I have the same memory of Burbank place but in the early 70s, where my grandparents lived. I was about 4 and was swimming on burbank, I remember my mom retrieving me, and cooincidentally going though a major ammount of water under the railroad crossing at the park st underpass, just like in the picture.

They have finally fixed the flooding of burbank with the latest drainage system installed when borders moved in, unless you have a basement that is...

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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby fisticuffs » Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:19 pm

Henry Vilas
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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby Henry Vilas » Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:47 pm

I recall someone drowning when their car entered the flooded railroad underpass on Park St. sometime during the 1970s. Anyone else remember that?

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Re: Looking for a wishing well

Postby jman111 » Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:48 pm

I lived on the corner of Park and Spring in the early 90's (before the "underpass" was redone). Similar flooding was fairly common, even then.

I also wonder how many pix are out there of trucks getting stuck under those tracks (low clearance). The one incident I witnessed "live" was a produce truck that lost nearly its entire load. The box of the truck was ripped right off the frame. Good times were had by us college brats watchin' that fiasco. At least the response time by Schmidt's towing was negligible, given the ~200 ft travel necessary.

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