CRUISING THE GREAT LAKES #8: GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN—GO PACK GO!

Bruce and I have such fun memories of our previous visit to Green Bay, when we toured Lambeau Field, home of the “Cheeseheads.”  The Ocean Navigator was offering that as a premium tour; however, we opted to take the included narrated hop-on-hop-off for a new experience.  We did convince a few of people from our ship to take that tour, though, and they loved it!

Green Bay, a city of 107,000 residents, gets its name because of the greenish color of the water.  It is Wisconsin’s oldest settlement and was established as a fur-trading post. Paper production manufacturing was also established and it is now Green Bay’s largest employer. (Thankfully, by the early 1900’s, splinter-free toilet paper was invented.  Whewww!)  Ultimately, Green Bay also became a major shipping center. 

For sports trivia enthusiasts, here are some Green Bay sports facts:  It is the smallest city to host a National Football League (NFL) team, the Green Bay Packers, named for the meat packers where its founder, Curly Lambeau workedHe sold shares of stock to raise money for the team, and the Packers, a non-profit organization, are the only NFL team owned by its shareholders and fans today.   Go Pack Go!  

At a capacity of 82,000, Lambeau Field, the Packers stadium, is the 4th largest in the NFL.  It is located in the middle of a residential area, so the homeowners closest to the stadium have become quite entrepreneurial.  To raise money for their snowbird vacations (Green Bay gets 40 inches of snow a year.), they rent out their driveways and front lawn as parking spaces on gameday for $20-$40!

Our first tour stop was the fantastic National Railroad Museum.  Their collection of trains was amazing! The Lake Superior & Ishpeming #24, constructed in 1910, is the oldest locomotive in the museum’s collection:

Here are a few of the other trains:

Milwaukee, aka “Brew City,” has an interesting history of beer-hauling trains.  The earliest beer breweries in Milwaukee date back to the 1830s, with more than 300 operating across Wisconsin by the 1890s.  All of that beer needed to be distributed somehow, so the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad banded together to become The Milwaukee Road.  They brought in grain and other beer-making materials and hauled away the beer.  What a great business collaborative! 

Unfortunately, by the mid-1980s, many of Milwaukee’s industrial and manufacturing businesses had moved their production to Mexico or China.  Today, less than a mile of the rail route remains.

MillerCoors, the one large brewer remaining in Milwaukee, still receives grain by the Milwaukee Road’s successor, Canadian Pacific Railway.

These are some of the U.S.A.’s other rail lines.  One surprised me, “The Phoebe Snow.”  I had only remembered the singer and had no idea there was a train of the same name.  As it turns out, the singer was born Phoebe Ann Laub and changed her name after seeing Phoebe Snow, a fictional advertising character for a railroad, on trains that passed through her hometown in New Jersey.

The museum had a beautiful Pullman train with an excellent display detailing the history of the Pullman Porters and their fight for civil rights.  Following the Civil War, George Pullman, owner of The Pullman Company, reinvented railroad travel with the introduction of his luxury Pullman Palace Car.  He hired thousands of attendants, nearly all of whom were African -Americans.  Porters served their mostly white patrons for years despite discrimination and difficult working conditions.

Philip Randolph established the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters to fight for their labor and civil rights.  The Pullman Company responded with threats, firings, and intimidation.  It took decades for the group to able to become a truly independent labor union, in 1937.

Meet Big Boy, Union Pacific’s #4017:

What a hungry beast!  It took 28 tons of coal to fuel the locomotive while pulling a 3,600-ton train between Ogden and Echo, Utah, a distance of 55 mountainous miles.  Yikes!

Big Boy also runs hot and stinky.  Its huge cab normally reached around 90 degrees Fahrenheit; however, in tunnels, the heat could build up to as much as 180 degrees!  Even in the Wyoming winters, engine crews would run with the roof vent and windows open.  The cab got very smoky as well, sometimes becoming so dark that the crews had to grope for the controls.  I wonder what the lung cancer rate was among Big Boy’s crews…

Next stop on the hop-on-hop-off tour was The Automobile Gallery.  They had a wonderful collection of cool cars, including this Delorean we were invited to hop into for a photo:

We wanted to see what the downtown area was like, since we missed it during our 2017 visit to Green Bay.  A nice surprise greeted us as we walked through the Broadway District: Murals, and lots of ‘em!  I love murals, and I photograph them wherever I go.  The district sponsors the Mural and Busker Festival with prizes going to the mural winners, so it has been a great way to beautify the Broadway District’s businesses and bring in tourists.

All that walking made us thirsty, so we stopped in for a beer at Titletown Brewing Co., one of Green Bay’s brew pubs.

The Nevill Public Museum was another tour stop, but it was so close to the ship that we saved it for the end of what turned out to be a very full and enjoyable day!

Next up:  Super Sturgeon Bay

TOURING LAMBEAU FIELD, HOME OF THE CHEESEHEADS

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Wisconsin is the Dairy State; however, I wondered just how the Cheeseheads got their name.  As quoted by Lee Remmel, the Packers team historian, “The birth of the world famous ‘Cheesehead’ hat was not initially about fashion, but a gouda, self-deprecating response to those we kindly call the ‘flatlanders’.  Still riding high from their only Super Bowl victory in 1986, Chicago Bears fans began ridiculing citizens of the Dairy State by calling them ‘Cheeseheads’.”

It didn’t take long for the marketing and merchandising department to take advantage of that moniker.  Cheeseheads (surely, you have seen those silly hats on Packer fans) are sold in the Packer’s gift shop for just $21.95!

Bruce grew up a Cheesehead having lived eight of his childhood years in Appleton and having a Cheesehead mom and maternal grandparents.  I, then, became an adopted Cheesehead as Bruce’s wife.  It’s infectious!  Once you get to know the history of the team and the loyalty of their fans, it’s hard not for it to grow on you—that is, unless you’re an arch-enemy Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, or Detroit Lions fan.

First of all, the Green Bay Packers are the only community-owned franchise in American Professional Sports.  Right there, you got me, as I have a hard time getting behind teams owned by multi-gazillionaires.  Since the spoiled-brat owners of the San Diego Chargers took their team away from San Diego when they couldn’t get the city to build a new stadium for them (Whaaaa!), I’ve given up on them.  If the Packers can keep remodeling and improving Lambeau Field (but keep a bunch of the same metal bleachers they have always had; bleachers seat more fans than chairs do), then good on ‘em!  (Don’t even get me started on the idiocy of the Atlanta Braves abandoning Turner Field for a new stadium.  Built in 1996 for the Olympics and given to the Braves for a whopping fee of $1, the stadium was perfectly fine!)

As of 2014, the Packers were owned by 360,584 stockholders.  That’s a lot of owners!  (Keep in mind, too, that no one person can hold more than approximately 4% of the outstanding shares.).  That kind of community support (and non-profit structure) has kept the Packers in Green Bay, since they were founded in 1919.

Green Bay’s population is only around 100,000; however, Packer fans hail from all over Wisconsin and the entire United States.  As a matter of fact, Packer fans are so loyal that every home game has been sold out since 1960, and their season-ticket waiting list is more than 86,000 names long!  According to Wikipedia, “The average wait is over 30 years, but with only 90 or so tickets turned over annually, it would be 955 years before the newest name on the list got theirs.  As a result, season tickets are willed to next of kin and newborns placed optimistically on the waiting list.”

Not being born into a season ticket-holding family, Bruce never had the opportunity to see a game at Lambeau Field, so we decided to see the Packers stadium the only way we could—on a tour.

We arrived for our tour the morning after sold-out Family Night, so the stadium was still in the process of getting cleaned up.  That was of no concern to us; we were getting to see Lambeau Field!

As we pulled into the parking lot, I couldn’t help but to notice the modest homes located in the residential neighborhood just across the street.  There was nothing glamorous or big city “Wow!” here!

Lambeau Field itself, on the other hand, got an attractive makeover in 2013, and it looked great.  Its capacity is now 81,441, which is the third-largest stadium in the NFL.  (By the way, the Packers paid only $250 for its charter membership to the NFL.  In comparison, the Houston Texans paid a whopping 750 MILLION dollars to join.)

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Bruce doing the “Lambeau Leap.”

Our tour guide was a hoot!  Between the funny stories he told as we toured the stadium from top to bottom (including the Champions Club, players tunnel and field), and the ribbing he gave a couple of Vikings fans in our group, we were thoroughly entertained.  (When you’re a tour guide for the team that boasts 13 National Championships—more than any team in the NFL—you have license to tease non-Packer fans!)

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The view from inside the Champions Club

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This giant neon football hangs from the ceiling of the massive Packers gift shop.

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The Packers Hall of Fame was two stories.  This uniform display could be seen while riding the escalator to the second story.

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Those Packer fans are LOYAL!  I couldn’t imagine even being outdoors in 13 degrees below 0 temps.!

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$900 in 2011!

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$900 in 2011!

Next up:  DOOR COUNTY:  HOLIDAY MUSIC MOTEL, FISH CREEK, AND FISH BOIL