Hurley, Wisconsin

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    Hurley had the reputation of being a tough town, with lots of bars.

    Jim Draeger and Mark Speltz in their book Bottoms Up describe the town:

    "Many Wisconsin cities never truly were dry. The most infamous was Hurley, a notorious northern Wisconsin city with a long history of vice. Prohibition agents staged massive raids on Hurley, but each time the saloonkeepers paid their fines and went back to the usual business. On December 27, 1926, federal agents padlocked twenty-nine Hurley saloons in a single day. A 1931 raid closed forty-two saloons resulting in the arrest of sixty people--or one out of every forty Hurley residents. In an economy dependent of revenues from drinking, gambling, and prostitution, local officers looked the other way and the city continued its business with routine harassment by enforcement officials."

    I remember a story from abou 1950 told me by a young teenager who lived in the Vilas County area. (He was a friend of he family that owned North Star Lodge where my family was staying.) On Halloween, when the boy was about ten to twelve years old, his father would take him up to Hurley, dressed in some kind of Halloween costume. While his father stood at the door, he would go into a bar, toss his costume hat on the bar and call out, "Trick or Treat." This go a lot of different reactions, and he father was standing by if they were hostile. But the most common reaction was to toss a coin or two into the hat. Repeating this in most of the bars in town made a very lucrative Halloween evening!

    In her novel, Come and Get It, Edna Ferber portrayed the logging industry in Wisconsin, including scenes of the northwoods. Her town of Iron Ridge is based on Hurley, and the Burton House in Hurley is the model for her Ridge House in Come and Get It. Wikipedia's [downloaded 8/26/2020] entry for the Burton House is: "The Burton House was a celebrated hotel located in Hurley, Wisconsin during the city's heyday as a mining and logging community. The building was erected by mining speculator, John E. Burton and opened its doors in September 1886. The hotel was an immaculate structure, with a four-story frame, containing 100 elaborately decorated rooms, dining room, café, clubrooms and a ballroom. One of the Burton Houses's most famous guests was president Grover Cleveland who registered at the hotel on October 5, 1889. After years of decline, the Burton House burned to the ground in 1948, as a result of an overheated stove in the first floor meeting room of the VFW."

    August 26, 2020
  • Bibliography

    Major References

    ****. Journey Journal, Official Guide to Exploring Highway 51. [Brochure, 2012 and 2015] 2012. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Dott and Attig. Roadside Geology of Wisconsin. Missoula, MT, 2004. View Full Entry
    Draeger and Speltz. Bottoms Up. [Companion to Wisconsin Public Television Series of the same name] Madison, 2012. View Full Entry
    Ferber, Edna. Come and Get It. [Prairie Classics No. 2] Madison, 1991. View Full Entry
    Ferber, Edna. Peculiar Treasure. New York, 1961. View Full Entry
    Hooper, C. W., ed.. Hurley ... lumber company closed its mill down today.... [Minocqua Times, August 27, 1896,] Minocqua, 1896. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Ostergren, Robert C. and Thomas R. Vale, eds.. Wisconsin Land and Life. Madison, 1997. View Full Entry
    Pohlen, Jerome. Oddball Wisconsin. Chicago, 2001. View Full Entry
    Techtmann, Catherine. Rooted in Resources, Iron County, Wisconsin 1893-1993. Friendship, Wisconsin, 1993. View Full Entry
    Will, Tracy. Wisconsin. [Compass American Guides, Third Edition] Oakland, CA, 2001. View Full Entry

    Minor References

    ****. Take in Ironwood's History While Visiting. [Autumn Times, August/September 2015, p. 21B. [Summer Times]] Minocqua and Rhinelander, 2015. View Full Entry
    Allen, Terese. Wisconsin Food Festivals. Amherst, WI, 1995. View Full Entry
    Emerson, Charles. Wisconsin Scenic and Historic Trails. Madison, 1933. View Full Entry
    Hollatz, Tom. Haunted Northwoods. St. Cloud, MN, 2000. View Full Entry
    Huhti, Thomas. Wisconsin. [Fourth Edition] Berkeley, CA, 2008. View Full Entry
    Huhti, Thomas. Wisconsin Handbook, Including Door County. [First Edition] Chico, CA, 1997. View Full Entry
    Mobil. Mobil Travel Guide, Great Lakes Area. [1976, 1983, 1994, 2001 editions] Chicago, 2001. View Full Entry
    Schultz, Gwen. Wisconsin's Foundations, A Review of the State's Geology and Its influence on Geography and human Activity. [Cooperative Extension Service, University of Wisconson] Madison, 2004. View Full Entry
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