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Fans of Milwaukee – and Great Lakes – history who haven't signed up for the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society's mailing list are missing out.
The group – headquartered at Milwaukee Public Library, which I featured in this story a few years back – is very active in terms of collecting and archiving documents and photos and objects and also hosts numerous events each year.
The newsletter is an easy way to find a cool old photo in your inbox every week (sometimes more). And, because these folks are history buffs like the rest of us, there's always a story behind the photo and the WMHS folks share that story.
Here is today's story – in honor of St. Patrick's Day – from the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society:
In March 1933 a Brown & Rehbaum photographer caught KILLARNEY at the Edward E. Gillen Kinnickinnic River dock in Milwaukee.
Built for Jeka Fish by the Leathem D. Smith Company of Sturgeon Bay, she was originally a 60-foot fish tug. But soon after delivery, she was converted to a generic tug. Named BETTY D., she worked for T.L. Durocher Wrecking of Detour, Michigan.
She was named for Killarney, a town in southwestern Ireland. Its natural heritage, history and location on the Ring of Kerry make the town a popular tourist destination.
Edward E. Gillen Towing of Milwaukee bought the BETTY D. in 1932 and renamed her KILLARNEY. However, she would spend less than three years in Milwaukee. Luedtke Engineering, a marine contractor in Frankfort, Michigan, acquired KILLARNEY in 1935. Renamed KARL E. LUEDTKE, She still works for the firm
Behind KILLARNEY is the Becher Street swing bridge, which was built in 1881. The building beyond was built in 1910 for the Independent Electric Manufacturing Company, which made industrial motor controllers. The O’Neil Duro Company bought the building in 1926. It produced paints, enamels and lacquers. Today, the building is a middle school.
Gillen's former Kinnickinnic River dock is now part of River 1, a mixed-use development project in Milwaukee's Harbor District that plans to open its first building late this year.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.