Inside the Creamery
Butter & Ice Cream Factory
Bayfield Progress – June 15, 1916
From Bayfield being in 1856 to the early 1900’s milch cows and beef cattle grazed the hillsides and barned in many a downtown homes backyard. At the turn of the 20th century with the Pinaries forests cut away and the cutover land viewed as fertile and tillable, farmers of the Bayfield peninsula began to diversify farming practices to include husbandry and dairying.
Dairy herds increased and lending institutions aided the prospective farmers in the Townships of Bayfield and Russell. “Both last week and this week W. S. Powell has been out of the city on commission to buy cows for adding to the dairy herds of this locality. On Friday he brought up 13 from Bloomer, Wisconsin, and every one of them was promptly placed. In the same car were 70 sheep belonging to Paul Johnson, and these four at once loosed on the Johnson farm west of the city. Mr. Powell departed again Sunday, this time to gather 20 more cows, all of which have been spoken for. The purchases are being to a considerable extent made by farmers through the aid of the First National Bank that institution arranging for easy terms of payment for such as is not prepared to make purchase and full payment at the outset”. June 8, 1916 Bayfield Progress
With the advent of a bourgeoning dairy industry at hand the need for a creamery came into play. During the months of February through June or 1916 the concept of a creamery to finalization of the building came about and was shortly after actualized. The Progress on February 3 reports that, “a new creamery building would be constructed. “Though not much has of late been heard respecting the Bayfield Creamery Association, which organization was launched last fall, officials of the association haven’t been idle on their part, for there be little use in starting manufacturing before late spring, even if all was in readiness. The earliest talk was in favor of purchasing and utilizing a building which just now is occupied, what the directors, when they came to give the property inspection, found that it would not serve all for creamery purpose. Decision to build has therefore been reached. Site for the structure has been secured on First Street adjacent to the Fruit Shippers Association building. Contractor Erickson is now drafting plans for the new structure and will ere long have them in readiness to turn over to the directors. Immediately thereafter, bids will be received for construction work”.
Creamery contracts were let and bids for the constructing and equipping of Bayfield’s new creamery were received and opened. Contracts were not, however, formally awarded, as some of the trustee’s had not been able to attend a prior meeting.
This, however, is given us as a certainty; a contract to construct the building will be awarded to the Bayfield Cement Construction Company and the price will be approximately $2100. The specifications will call for the completion of the work by May 1. The creamery establishment is to be of cement-tile construction and 1 1/2 story in height. In every particular it will be thoroughly modern in type and as sanitary as possible to build. No money will be wasted on ornamentation; what that the structure nevertheless will be attractive in style has heretofore been stated in these columns. This location will be on First Street adjacent to the warehouse of the Fruit Shippers Association.
O.W. Wahl is to become the operator of the new Bayfield creamery, having arrived in the city. In response to the potential production of milk, cream, butter and ice cream, Bayfield business community investors rallied to meet the needs locally and constructed the Butter & Ice Cream Factory that continued its legacy to. On June 16, 1916 the following review of the new creamery is presented.
Then on the June 15 edition of the Bayfield Progress it is stated, “The opening of Bayfield’s model creamery, which opening took place Monday, was most auspicious. The day’s deliveries of cream totaled about 200 gallons, and practically every smitch of it was sweet end of first quality. Nels Hagman has the distinction of being the first patron to make delivery of cream at institution; but Frank L. Wolfe beat Hagman somewhat with a delivery of milk. The Monday deliveries fell a bit short of expectations. Only four patron’s sent cream across from Madeline Island and none came up from the Sioux River community. From both these districts large receipts are due, and doubtless they will come as the season advances.
The Tuesday churning of Monday’s cream receipts produced a total of 340 pounds of butter. Since the foundation was of perfect cream; since all receptacles and utensils were of such cleanliness as made ‘em first cousins of godliness; well, we admit that it’s practically needless to say that the butter product was rankable with the purest and best ever turned out by any establishment.
Operator Wahl is working at the outset under heavy handicap by reason of lack of some requisite machinery and the absence of many of the implements required for the proper handling of raw material and finished product. All such appurtenances of the business were ordered in due season; but these are exceptionally busy days for the makers of creamery supplies and the orders from the Bayfield management have had to wait their turn. However, all the needful equipment will ultimately be at hand, and Mr. Wahl will in the meantime do the best he can with the implements which now are available.
O.M. Wahl says: “the new Bayfield creamery will be ready to receive its first offerings of cream next Monday.” That’s enough to make many a man and woman of this locality to toss aloft their headgear and shout from excess of joy. Many such were prepared to supply milk and cream to the new establishment a month ago, when it was expected to be opening time. But the creamery builders had reckoned without considering possible delays for which they would not themselves be responsible. The building itself was ready for occupancy not far from the appointed time; but the equipment wasn’t so promptly to be had. Piece by piece it came dribbling in, and Mr. Wahl is satisfied that he now has enough of the outfit installed to allow of the beginning business. The receiving tanks, the pasteurizer, the starter tanks, the ice cream machine, the churn and one motor are installed, and a crew of workers is hustling to affect this in connection with the city’s power plant. When that is accomplished, Mr. Wahl will be ready to make start, though he will work under considerable handicap until the second motor and the other ordered equipment is in.
The creamery building is, in its construction, arrangement and interior finish, a model. Such as have not viewed that interior should “go and take a look.” It’s as clean and white as a hospital ward, and this construction is such that it easily may be kept in that condition. The walls and woodwork still lack the final coating of white enamel. When that shall have been applied, every man afflicted even with bad breath would almost be ashamed to breathe inside those rooms. As for germs and foul smells, why, they will flit at their first glimpse or whiff of the cleanliness and sweetness that’s apparent in the new Bayfield creamery. It’s a beaut. No mistake about that.
This history brief was written by Robert J. Nelson. Generously sharing our local history through his research and writing.