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Port Washington centennial, 1835 - 1935 : one hundred years of progress
(1935)

Early industries,   pp. 20-21


Page 20

EARLY INDUSTRIES
Saw Mill to Smut
The early industries of Port Washington all
centered about the natural resources and the avail-
able shipping connection. In 1847 the Moore bro-
thers successfully took advantage of these when
they built a saw mill on Sauk Creek and shipped by
water. Almost contemporary was the North Brick
Yard which was started by Woodruff and Richards
who early realized the possibilities of the red clay.
When crops began to increase beyond local con-
sumption, the first grain mill was established and
was powered by a dam in the creek. That was in
1848. The first real brewery was started by Jacob
Moritz. It was very successful. An even more
successful industry was that of Lyman Morgan &
Co., which manufactured smut machines. A smut
machine is a grain separator that cleanses grain of
smuts or rotten kernels. Later the Morgan Com-
pany made machines exclusively for flour mills in
Minneapolis.
Heavy Industries
The heavy industries had their beginning when
Theodore Gilson and John Maas started the first
foundry. Other foundries soon appeared. One of
them cast plows and hitching posts and crosses.
The iron crosses can still be found in Port Wash-
ington's cemeteries. New industries quickly follow-
ed. 1854-Paul Wolf's tannery, later owned by C. A.
Mueller. 1868-Kemp and Poull's malt house. 1872
-the Schumacher and Johnson foundry with a
capitalization of $16,000. 1883-the Crowns door
factory.
Port Washington's largest industry, the Wis-
consin Chair Co., was started in 1888 on $250,000.
The Gilson Manufacturing Co. as incorporated in
1893. Other industries include the C. J. Luther Co.,
Barth Bros. Mfg. Co., the various brickyards and a
tank works.
The Harbor 1867
Captain Charles Lewis, the retired coast light
keeper, vividly describes the day, sixty-eight years
ago, when he saw the first dredges at the harbor.
"I was sailing south," he relates, "and just off Port
Washington. There was a fine West wind and the
day was clear. It was the summer of 1867 and there
right along the creek were the dredges at work."
The dredges were there as a result of a Federal
appropriation of $15,000, and a like amount from
the county. Port Washington was to have an
artificial harbor. The first really artificial one in
the United States.
PAGE TWENTY
14 Foot Depth
Every year the government appropriated more
money and every year new improvements were
made. At first only the West basin was dredged out.
Its depth was kept at 14 feet and two crib piers
were gradually extended until they reached out 800
feet into the lake. After the piers were completed,
Port Washington was a port of call for all types of
boats from the popular passenger steamers to the
little cargo schooners that carried everything from
potatoes to whiskey. Fishing boats also made good
use of the harbor. As more room was needed, the
North basin was dredged out. In 1889 a wooden
pier light was built on the end of the North pier.
It used a gas lantern.
Today!
Today the harbor is the most modern on the
lakes. A new $625,000 breakwater has been built
with a powerful, all-steel light tower. The harbor
wharves are also of all-steel and the minimum
depth of water is now about 22 feet. As the old
harbor was at one time busy and active so is the
harbor today. Already it boasts one of the largest
annual shipping tonnages. Further improvements
are to be made as the Federal government plans to
extend the 'breakwater.
Disasters!
Like all maritime towns Port Washington has
had its share of disaster and tragedy. In the Union
cemetery the tragedy of the "Toledo" is commem-
orated by a huge anchor. The "Toledo", one of the
largest propellers then on the lakes, went down in
October, 1856, twenty rods off Blake's pier.
The "Toledo"
The "Toledo" had docked at the pier to dis-
charge passengers and freight. It was a brisk fall
day and only the slightest indication of storm. But
suddenly, just when a deck load of wood for fuel
had been taken aboard, the winds struck and lash-
ed the lake into a menacing fury.


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