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