Eagle River was born out of the massive land holdings of the Phoenix Mine, platted by the mine in 1855. Though created by the Phoenix Mine, it was the runaway success of the nearby Cliff Mine that allowed the village to prosper. The first industrial structures built at the village was a long dock and large warehouse built at the mouth of the Eagle River by the Cliff Mine, in order to ship out copper and bring in supplies. The wharf was quickly joined by other industries, including two breweries, an ashery, a fuse factory, and two saw mills. Along the way those industries were joined by a thriving commercial district rising up along the east shore of the river. Now known as Main Street, this district became home a hotel, several sallons, stores, and other services.
Here’s a snapshot of the village as it existed in 1904 – thanks to an old nautical chart available at HERE (just put in Eagle River in the search terms). At the time this map was made the many bridges that now span the river gorge had yet to be constructed. To help orientate you, I’ve superimposed over the map the location of the current bridges and highway route. Also marked on the map are a few important structures that I was able to identify (labeled as A-F). Now for the tour…
Though not the best picture, this does provide a good overview of Eagle River at its prime. Taken from out on the long Cliff dock, the photo shows both the east and west banks of the eagle river. It also shows what I believe is the villages first bridge over the river (marked with the number 1). On the river’s west bank you can see a collection of warehouses sitting just below the lighthouse (F). On the east bank you can see the long line of buildings along Main Street, including the large Phoenix Hotel featured yesterday (C).
Moving inland from the Cliff Dock we find this photo that I featured yesterday. Anchoring Main Street is the large Cliff Mine warehouse (B), followed by the Phoenix Hotel (C). The large house to the right of the hotel might be another Inn, but I think it might be the Brockway residence (who owned and operated the Phoenix Hotel). The street on the far right is 2nd Street.
From the corner of 2nd Street here’s another look at Main Street’s first block. You can see the Phoenix Hotel (C) as well as the very back of the warehouse (B).
Turning about 90º from the last perspective, we have this shot of the Eagle Hotel – which still stands – sitting on the corner of 2nd and Main Streets. Further up the hill you can make out a few more commercial buildings, including the site of the towns first jail (which also stills stands today) – the German Hotel (E).
Moving two blocks south of the previous picture we find ourselves near the corner of 4th and Main Street, right in front of the current pedestrian bridge near the falls. The Eagle River School sits on the right (not in shot). I’ve also shown the location of the lower bridge (2) and the German Hotel (E). The first building on the right I believe is the village’s general store (which still stands).
As far as the rest of the buildings along main street I can’t be sure of what occupied them but I do have an idea of what could have. According to a 1863 business directory Eagle River was home to 3 physicians, 3 saloons, 3 shoemakers, 2 general stores, 1 hardware store, 2 jewelers, 1 insurance agent, and a lawyer.
Unfortunately by the time this map was drawn the Cliff Mine had closed and the village would never fully recover. Interestingly, by the time the main bridges were built crossing the gorge the village was only a shell of its former self.