The Miswald Brewery
The paint was still wet in Lakeview when a pair of brothers from Ontonagon – Joseph and Martin Miswald – looked to expand their brewery business into the booming Red Jacket area. The brother’s had previously operated a brewery out of an old church in Ontonagon, a brewery which was destroyed in the great Ontonagon fire of 1896. Leaving the scarred remains of the town behind, the brothers looked for a new market in which to restart operations and settled upon the burgeoning village of Red Jacket. At the time Red Jacket didn’t have a brewery of its own with the nearest competitor – the Bosch Brewery – sitting far down the hill in the mill town of Lake Linden. Fresh with new funds and a new determination the brothers looked to Lakeview as the future home of their new operation. The town fit their needs perfectly: it was affordable, accessible to Red Jacket by means of a well-maintained road, and best of all had a convenient source of fresh water required for their beer right at its doorstep – that spring-fed stream on the town’s eastern end.
Thus in 1897 the brothers bought up over a dozen lots at the corner of Mine and Second Streets right alongside that supply of water – a creek unsurprisingly known today as Brewery Creek. There they erected themselves a massive modern brewery to rival all others in the region. Thanks to their unfortunate recent fire experience, the brothers made sure that this new brewery was built to be as fire proof as possible. Towards that end its walls were built completely out of stone, its structures resembling something more akin to the massive mine buildings found up the road in Red Jacket. With the town sporting its own industry, remaining lots began to sell and soon the sprawling complex was joined by several single-family homes.
Unfortunately Lakeview’s most important landmark was not to last, as just two years after its completion the brothers were struck with tragedy yet again as another fire swept through the structure in 1899 resulting in over $30,000 in damage. This was the last straw for the Miswald Brothers, as both their original brewery in Ontonagon and their beer depot in L’Anse had also been destroyed by fire in the previous few years. Thus the brothers skipped town abandoning their destroyed Lakeview brewery in the process, leaving everything – including brewing vats still filled with beer – behind. With taxes due the ruined property went to auction and was bought up by a newly formed corporation whose board consisted of a who’s who of Calumet area saloon owners -Joseph Schroeder, Marcus Sterk, and Frank Schumaker to name just a few. The group would go to work rebuilding the ruined property – rebranding the old facility as the Calumet Brewing Company.
The Calumet Brewery
The new rebranded Calumet Brewery began operations the next year, shipping its signature “Calumet Select” brew to saloons all throughout the region. The company touted its clean and pure water source, plastering on each of its labels the motto “pure and without drugs or poison”. Business would be slow but good, and after six years of operation the company managed to pay out its first dividends marking its emergence as one of the Copper Country’s premier brewing companies on par with the likes of Bosch and Haas. The company would soon thereafter reinvest heavily in its aging brewery which had become outgrown by the burgeoning business. The building would undergo a complete transformation from end to end, converted along the way from its traditional horizontal layout to the more efficient and modern “Tower” layout.The transformation was impressive, converting what was in reality just a patched together burnt out structure into something far more permanent. The old brewery’s two sections were connected together via a new section of poor rock wall while a trio of brand new brick floors were set on top. Most noticeable was the replacement of the original iron stack with a new towering brick stack rising up from a new rubble stone base. Additionally a one story brick addition was added to the south-west corner – a structure housing the facility’s new shipping warehouse.
The new “Tower” design utilized the power of gravity to help streamline the brewing process – in much the same way as mines adopted tall rock houses to better process its rock. In this design the main ingredients used in beer making – malt and water – are stored high up in the top of the structure. From there those ingredients make their way through various steps of production, gravity being used to move the product from one stage to the next. At the base of the building can be found the fermentation rooms where the last step in the process is carried out. Also found in the building’s base is its boiler room and brewery engine – a steam powered engine used via connected belts and pulleys to power various machines in the building including the pumps used to bring the water up to the top of the structure in the first place.This new improved Calumet Brewery at Lakeview would be the pride of the company and as such was used prominently on the label of its beers. It was a rather idyllic version, however, as it shows a far more park-like setting then was actually the case. For a company whose motto was “pure and without poison” I’m sure it was important to put their best face forward even if it was a bit exaggerated. The truth of the matter was closer to this – a view of the brewery around 1910. The rough dirt road fronting the building was Mine Street, today known as Tamarack Waterworks Road. Just behind the brewery is Third Street, which today is a continuation of Tamarack Waterworks as it makes its turn westward. Further up the hill Mine Street continues, but today we know that road as Dextrom. As can clearly be seen here those roads are far from the clean and well groomed thoroughfare’s the Calumet Brewery label shows, nor is there a single sidewalk to be seen. Worst yet the hardscrabble landscape which lines those roads is far from a park setting, looking more like some desolate stretch of frontier land. Yet even despite appearances this was a brewery at the top of its game. The company was in its prime, its brews highly popular throughout the region and its growth assured for years to come. Success had finally arrived to the Lakeview brewery.
Encouraged by that success, the Calumet Brewing Company began to flex its muscles in taking on its main competitors in the hopes to become the region’s No.1 selling beer. Towards that end the company spent $18,000 in 1910 to purchase the Copper Range Hotel in Calumet – a building sitting on one of the region’s most valuable pieces of real estate along Calumet’s booming Sixth Street. Not only was the hotel right across the street from the Calumet Opera House, the interurban line passed right in front. It was a move mirroring the Bosch Brewery’s purchase of the Hotel Michigan down the street just five years earlier, who would use the hotel and its saloon to promote its brews. Additionally the company would also invest in one of the newest pieces of technology available at the time – the gas powered delivery truck. This was one of the first such trucks to be used in the Calumet region, serving not only as an efficient method of beer delivery but also as a rolling advertisement that garnered attention wherever it roamed.
Yet for all its success storm clouds were on the horizon. The temperance movement was gaining momentum, and before the decade was out alcohol production and distribution would become illegal in the United States. Suddenly all the Calumet Brewing Company’s success and popularity meant nothing – as it and the rest of the brewing industry was suddenly out of business. The Calumet Brewery attempted to wait Prohibition out, by re-tasking its Lakeview plant into soda pop and “near beer” production in the years to follow. Yet it was endeavor that proved futile, as the Calumet Brewery would be forced to lay off its workforce of over 30 men and close its doors for good. It would never open again.
After the Close
In the decades that followed the great Copper Empire began to contract as the copper industry wained, and with it the old town of Lakeview faded into obscurity. The town’s remaining residents left, leaving nothing but old cellar holes in the ground. As the houses disappeared the now unused roads of the town were overtaken by the surrounding forest. After some time only the old brewery remained – the last reminder of the old town that was. The Calumet Brewery would be the most distinguishable landmark for decades more – as seen in the 1939 aerial image seen above. By that time only four streets could be seen – Mine Street (Now Tamarack Waterworks Road and Dextrom Road), Third Street (also Tamarack Waterworks Road) along with a block’s worth of Michigan Street and Second Street. The rest (shown in light white) were just cleared paths through the trees which were never developed. In fact in all only three or four blocks of the entire 16 blocks were even sold off. Even at its peak Lakeview was only home to about a dozen homes, its most prominent and important resident being from day one the Miswald Brewery. With the brewery there would be no Lakeview.
Yet even the brewery was not immune from the ravages of time. The building would be pillaged for its equipment and machinery leaving gaping holes in its walls. By the time of that aerial image the roof had begun to collapse from years of heavy snowfalls and at some point later the building would be partially demolished, its brick-built portions including its towering smoke stack, warehouse addition, and upper floors torn down and hauled away. In the end only a shell of the old brewery remained – which consisted primarily of the old stone walls of the original Miswald structures.Today that old shell can still barely be seen peeking out of the foilage along the road – the rest of the old building largely buried in brush and trees. These old rubble rock walls are the only reminder of the Lakeview that was, a town born from Calumet’s rise and in turn wiped from the map by its fall. Yet this isn’t just some turn in the road, as something substantial and influential once called this place home – an important piece of Copper Country history largely untold today.
I would like to thank the Lake Superior Collection Management Center at the Keweenaw National Historical Park for the great archive images found in this post. The park and especially archivist Jeremiah Mason have been incredibly accommodating to my request for high-resolution archive images for use here on CCE – a request that turned out to be more difficult to fulfill then I first imagined. Truth is that without the park’s and Mr. Mason’s help such high-resolution images would not even be possible. In honor of their generosity I ask that you do not copy or share the archive images found in the post without first contacting the archives with your request so they can track the image’s use. Tracking how and where the archives’ images are being used helps to insure their continued availability in the future.