Harvestore, Highway 147, Two Rivers, WI

Harvestore, Highway 147 near Two Rivers, Wisconsin (1.31.2014) © J. Shimon & J. Lindemann
Thinking about branding and decay. The signature blue color and A.O. Smith HARVESTORE font and logo erode and change slowly as the Wisconsin elements (snow, ice, rain, wind) work away at this resilient surface. The Harvestore® silo structure stands tall amidst a grouping of traditional farm buildings of functional design also gracefully disintegrating in the snow of January.


Found: Blast Furnaces, Mayville, WI

Found: Blast Furnaces, Mayville, Wisconsin. 
Postmarked Mayville, Wis. August 21, 1908
Iron mining and the old Iron Ridge were integral to early Mayville and vicinity development from 1845 to 1928. Blast furnaces, operated by the Mayville Iron Company, and the pig iron they made earned the area the title of the Pittsburgh of the West. As time marched on, iron came from Minnesota and upper Michigan rather than the immediate area. The blast furnaces declined as a result of a transition from iron to steel and were demolished during the depression as part of a government works project. Today an important abandoned iron mine in nearby Neda serves as habitat to an estimated 200,000 bats.


Harvestores on the Horizon, Brillion, WI

Harvestores on Horizon, Long Lake Road near Brillion, Wisconsin (1.31.2014)
© J. Shimon & J. Lindemann

Driving along Wisconsin roads, silos of various vintages break the horizon often with Harvestores in the mix. As we pan the landscape, several farms are visible across the frozen tundra each with a Harvestore or two.


Found: Alexander Stewart Lumber Company, Wausau, WI

Found: Looking South from City Hall Tower, Wausau, Wis.
Vast lumber mills sprung up in central Wisconsin to serve the 19th-century logging industry. Silos stored saw dust while railroads and rivers moved logs from one destination to the next. Alexander Stewart Lumber Co. survived downturns and contributed to Wausau's history and development. Rib Mountain looms beyond this industrial scene.


Short Harvestore, Kaukauna, WI

Short Harvestore, Kavanaugh Road at Fainway Drive, Kaukauna, Wisconsin (3.3.2014)
© J. Shimon & J. Lindemann
The technology of silos and animal feed storage evolved over time. New materials such as concrete, then enameled steel, made silos increasingly air tight helping silage last longer and making it taste better to farm animals. This layered history is evident in the barnyard with new ideas co-existing with old ones.


Found: Christ Bearing Cross, Wisconsin Dells, WI

Found: CHRIST BEARING THE CROSS, One of many scenes at BIBLICAL GARDENS between Wisconsin Dells
and Lake Delton, Wis. on Hwy. 12. "And he bearing his cross went forth..." St. John 19:17. J2862
Photo by John A. Trumble. Published by DELLS PHOTO SERVICE, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
Sun Johnson Printing Inc. Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Circa 1970s.
Found: SERMON ON THE MOUNTAIN. One of many scenes at
BIBLICAL GARDEN between Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton, Wis. on Hwy. 12.
"And seeing the multitude, he went up to the mountain...and taught them
saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
St. Matthew 5:1,2,3. D204 Photo by John A. Trumble.
Published by DELLS PHOTO SERVICE, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
Sun Johnson Printing Inc. Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Circa 1970s.
Found: JESUS AND THE CHILDREN. One of many scenes at BIBLICAL GARDENS between Wisconsin Dells
and Lake Delton, Wis. on Hwy. 12. "Suffer the little children to come unto me, amd forbid them not:
for of such is the kingdom of God." St. Mark 10:14. D202 Photo by John A. Trumble.
Published by DELLS PHOTO SERVICE, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Circa 1970s.
Found: THE CRUCIFIXION. One of many scenes at BIBLICAL GARDENS
between Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton, Wis. on Hwy. 12.
"And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary,
there they crucified him..." St. Luke 23:33. J2862 Photo by John A. Trumble.
Published by DELLS PHOTO SERVICE, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
Sun Johnson Printing Inc. Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Circa 1970s.
Found: In Biblical Gardens. Mrs. Eva Newsom, owner-artist of Biblical Gardens in
Wisconsin Dells, puts the finishing touches to this figure for the new "Ascension Scene.
 There are 13 biblical scenes at the Dells attraction, all in a natural setting of ferns, pine, wild
and cultivated flowers. The Dells area is getting set for a big summer vacation season.
For a list of accommodations write Chamber of Commerce,
Dept. S-T, Wisconsin Dells, Wis  53965. Photo by John A. Trumble,
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Stamped Sun-Times April 5, 1970.
Wisconsin had a rich history of concrete Christian shrines leading up to to Biblical Gardens in Wisconsin Dells. The Dickeyville Grotto (built 1925-1930), Rudolph Grotto Gardens (built 1927-1983), and Necedeh Shrine (circa 1950s) commemorated aspects of biblical and Marian lore with concrete and obsession. Mrs. Eva Newsom constructed her vision starting in 1961 casting each biblical figure from people she knew around her in Dixon, Illinois. She left Dixon to set up and run Biblical Gardens with her husband in Wisconsin Dells where they owned land. The two-thirds scale statues she made weighed as much as 700 pounds. Painted to be as "lifelike" as possible, they were presented in a wooded Wisconsin setting. Photographer John A. Trumble captured the approximately 15 final vignettes, often with a keen eye for dappled light to create drama. He published them on postcards with Bible verses for tourist consumption. The Newsoms project seemed to reach a peak in the 1970s and they retired in 1980 with Biblical Gardens operating until 1997 when their land was sold. Mrs. Newsom wanted the statues to remain together and they did when the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod purchased them at auction in 1997 for $5,000. WELS announced plans to repair and restore them then placed them at their Camp Phillip summer Christian retreat center in Wautoma in April of 2014.


Harvestores, Brillion, WI

Harvestores, County K near Brillion, Wisconsin (1.24.2014)
© J. Shimon & J. Lindemann
Three Harvestores and a concrete stave silo were big farming in the 1970s, but small by 21st century standards. Unlike many Harvestores in our region, these appear to be in use. Taken in a blizzard, the blue monoliths dominate the rural landscape and the the plywood cut-out cow on the barn makes a quaint statement.


Found: Winnebago Couple, Wisconsin Dells, WI

Found: An attractive Winnebago couple do not seem to notice our sight-seeing boats pass along the beautiful shores of the Wisconsin River at the Dells Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. D133 Photo by John A. Trumble. Published by DELLS PHOTO SERVICE, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Sun Johnson Printing Inc. Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Circa 1970s.
Found: Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Along the shores of the Wisconsin River there are 15 miles of colorful rock formations. The soft sandstone has been worn into many unusual shapes  by the weather.  D197 Photo by John A. Trumble. Published by DELLS PHOTO SERVICE, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Circa 1970s.
Found; THE SUGAR BOWL. A large steel passenger boat going through the narrow channel that separates the rock island from the mainland. In the ""Lower Dells" of the Wisconsin River. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. D127 Photo by John A. Trumble. Published by DELLS PHOTO SERVICE, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Sun Johnson Printing Inc. Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Circa 1970s.
Found: Dancing Waters. The Fabulous and Amazing DANCING WATERS. As Featured at Tommy Bartlett's Water Thrill Show. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. D200 Photo by John A. Trumble. Published by DELLS PHOTO SERVICE, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Circa 1970s.
Like so many pre-Internet era professional photographers, precious little is known about John A. Trumble whose theatrical color photographs document Wisconsin Dells on postcards. Decades after H. H. Bennett's romantic approach to capturing the Dells, Trumble's carefully crafted photographs  used male and female models in "Indian" or touristy shorts outfits to accent rock formations and waterways circa 1970s. His colorful geometric Dancing Waters at Tommy Bartlett's Water Thrill Show postcard indicates a departure from earlier landscape adulation thus paving the way for the "Waterpark Capital of the World®" version of the Dells of today.



Harvestore (Spirit of America), Forest Junction, WI

Harvestore (Spirit of America), County K near Forest Junction, Wisconsin (2.15.2014)
© J. Shimon & J. Lindemann
A direct reference to the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the "Spirit of America" catchphrase was baked into the enameled metal of some Harvestore silos. Many consumer products, including the Spirit of America Chevrolet, expressed patriotism in preparation for the US Bicentennial celebration. The blue Harvestore was the ultimate though towering as they did above the American rural landscape.


Found: Stand Rock, Wisconsin Dells, WI

STAND ROCK is the most curious and wonderful formation in all the region.
It is a huge table supported by a single water-torn rather
irregular shaped column of rock, about 46 feet high.
The top is a great sandstone slab some 18x24 feet in area
and practically level. The is 5-1/2 feet from the main cliff.
Copyright by H. H. Bennett Studio, Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
"C.T. Art Colortone,"
Made only by Curt Teich & Co. Inc. Chicago, U.S.A. Circa 1940.
Found: Lone Rock, Dells of he Wisconsin River, Kilbourn, Wis. Published by W.S. Blatchley Kilbourn, Wis.
At first it was all about the rocks and the stunning sandstone land forms etched by the water in the driftless area of Wisconsin. The place was eventually named Kilbourn City after its founder, a land surveyor named Byron Kilbourn. Photographer H.H. Bennett was so inspired by this landscape on the Wisconsin River, that he began making photographic views to sell at the new railroad stations to entice people to visit. He invented an instantaneous shutter to capture his son jumping from the cliff to stand rock and sold Ho Chunk artifacts from his studio. So successful was his venture making postcards and 3-D stereoscope cards that Kilbourn City became a bustling destination. The town name changed to Wisconsin Dells in 1931 to more clearly identify it in the public mind with the landscape. Decades later, "the Dells" reinvented itself as "the water park capital of the world." Its theme parks often overwhelming the senses to such a degree that visitors can miss the landscape that started it all.


Harvestore Dealership Sign, New Holstein, WI

Former Harvestore Dealership Sign (Lakeside), Hayton Road near New Holstein, Wisconsin (2.21.2014)
© J. Shimon & J. Lindemann

The American Revolution Commission, established in 1966, called on all people and communities across the country to do something to celebrate the US Bicentennial in 1976. Harvestore contributed to the "spirit" by adding US flags to their structures** which towered over the rural landscape in increasing numbers. After Vietnam and Nixon's resignation, the Bicentennial inspired nostalgia, patriotism, and "looking to the future with hope" as Nixon himself proclaimed in a speech (see below clip) years before Watergate. Decades later we found this Harvestore still decorated with the flag while being repurposed as a sign for a rural contracting company.

**Rural legend had it that the flag on Harvestores signified it was paid for. A reliable source claims that in fact the flags were Harvestore's contribution to the Bicentennial celebration.


Found: View from Memorial Bridge, Appleton, WI

Found: View taken from Memorial Bridge across the Fox River at Appleton, Wisconsin.
Photo & Published by G. R. Brown Co., Rt. 5, Eau Claire, WI  54703-9990. Circa 1980s.
Found: Three States View, Iowa-Illinois, Wisconsin, from Eagle Point Park, Dubuque.
Published by Buettell Brothers Company, Dubuque, Iowa. Circa 1930s.
These views of rivers are "taken" from built structures revealing scenes of contrast. On the one hand, the river flowing through the landscape and on the other the buildings, docks, and gateways enabling human access.


Harvestores/Lake Michigan, Cleveland, WI

Harvestores, Lakshore Drive along Lake Michigan, near Cleveland, Wisconsin (2.21.2014)
 © J. Shimon & J. Lindemann

The iconic blue Harvestore® silo or "structure" was the ultimate vertical vessel design for fermented silage (animal feed). Made in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by A.O. Smith as an extension of its glass-fused-to-steel technology first used in hot water heaters and beer brewing tanks, the Harvestore became a symbol of progressive, technology-savvy farm practices. From 1949 until 1984, Harvestores were going up all over Wisconsin and other places in North America--then sales bottomed-out due to an economic downturn. More than 75,000 Harvestores were sold in that time.  A.O. Smith sold Harvestore in January 2001 after various consolidation efforts. Throughout the 1970s though, farmers took on debt to erect the once prestigious silos. By the 21st century, feed storage went horizontal to ag-bags and covered piles preferred by industrial-sized dairy operations. Mechanical problems with the Harvestore bottom unloader plagued farmers and Harvestore. Slowly, the structures transgressed from state-of-the-art to relic. You still see them glinting on the horizon throughout Wisconsin though with fewer and fewer being used. Many are being torn down due to safety concerns. In collaboration with Worm Farm Institute/Fermentation Fest/Dtour, parts of a salvaged Harvestore® may rise out of the ashes as a Band Shell in October 2014...


Found: Let's Have a Picnic, Manitowoc, WI

Found: Let's Have a Picnic, Greetings - Manitowoc, Wis.
Published by Wyman Studio, Wausau, Wisconsin,
Mirro-Krome Card by H.S. Crocker Co., Inc. San Francisco 1, Calif. Circa 1960s
Found: First tint of Autumn, Greetings - Appleton, Wis.
Kodachrome by Sid Lane. Published by Wyman Photo Center Wausau, Wis. Dextone.
Made Direct From Kodachrome and Ansco Color by Dexter Press,  Inc. West Nyack, NY. Circa 1960s.
These watery views could be anywhere in Wisconsin, though are given a location (Manitowoc or Appleton) via  a caption that reads like a poetic turn of phrase. There are few visual cues whether the bodies of water depicted are lakes or rivers in Central Wisconsin or Eastern Wisconsin. The captions suggest time. "Let's Have a Picnic" reads as a summery message to accompany an isolated maiden leaning against a birch tree, back to the scenic view, pondering an empty picnic table on a beautiful sunny day. The surface of the Mirro-Krome "photochrome" shows delicate crackles on its once perfect "high-gloss" varnished surface imparting an eerie quality. "First tint of Autmn" seems a melancholy text accompanying an unpeopled shore sprinkled with a few autumn leaves with a vast expanse of icy blue water ahead in the fading light of day. "Greetings."


Lake Michigan Froze, Manitowoc, WI

Lake Michigan, Manitowoc, Wisconsin (2.15.2014)
© J. Shimon & J. Lindemann

The frigid cold seemed unrelenting in the early part of 2014. The reportage not long after this phtograph was made that Lake Michigan was more than 90% frozen (the average is 40%) according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration proved it was so.