Alma Historical Society

Alma Historical Society Recapturing the Small River Town Atmosphere of Early Alma, Wisconsin
The Alma Historical Society works to preserve the history of Alma, Wisconsin and to promote awareness of our heritage through educational programs, displays and exhibits.

In the spring of 1978 several local residents of Alma, Wisconsin began meeting to organize a group with the idea of recapturing the small river town atmosphere of early Alma. As a result of these meetings the formation of the Alma Historical Society was begun.

Mission: Recapturing the Small River Town Atmosphere of Early Alma, Wisconsin

DELTA QUEEN Featured On Cover Of 2018 Buffalo County WI Travel GuideJohn Runions, a well known artist who lived in Alma,...
11/29/2018

DELTA QUEEN Featured On Cover Of 2018 Buffalo County WI Travel Guide

John Runions, a well known artist who lived in Alma, Wisconsin for many years, was a member of the Alma Historical Society and painted this watercolor of the Delta Queen. It was featured on the cover of this year's Buffalo County, Wisconsin travel guide.

Buffalo County chose that image because it promoted the work of a local artist and supported the efforts to bring the Delta Queen back to the Mississippi River.

Congratulations to everyone involved, we look forward to the Delta Queen Steamboat Company returning the "Queen" to the Upper Mississippi River in 2020!

MORE INFO: www.deltaqueen.com

#DeltaQueen2020 #BuffaloCountyWI #AlmaWisconsin #AlmaHistoricalSociety #LockDam4MississippiRiver

304 S MAIN STREET, ALMA WIHEISE GRAIN WAREHOUSE (1862)This historic Alma building is for sale ... the only warehouse tha...
11/21/2018

304 S MAIN STREET, ALMA WI
HEISE GRAIN WAREHOUSE (1862)

This historic Alma building is for sale ... the only warehouse that remains intact from the days when Alma served as a major wheat shipping center (1857-1899).

This building complex would make a great restaurant and/or microbrewery. Mississippi River view from the river-side of the building is phenomenal with full view of Lock & Dam #4!

A rare opportunity to buy an authentic piece of history on Main Street & the Mississippi River … even the rope & hook to lift heavy product (grain) from the wagons is still intact. We're hoping for great things. The grain warehouse built in 1862 has not been renovated. To the north & attached is the implement store built in 1892, today it houses two apartments.

Excerpt From "Alma On The Mississippi", 1980:

DATE OF CONSTRUCTION: 1862
HISTORIC NAME: Heise Grain Warehouse and Implement Dealership
NRHP CLASSIFICATION: The south part of this building, the former grain warehouse, was erected first. It has a gabled roof with a dormer and is of frame construction on a stone foundation. The two-story frame building to the north was added in 1892. It features a cornice with decorative end brackets and a shed roof.

OTHER INFORMATION: William Heise came to Alma in 1876 and immediately engaged in the wheat business as the grain buyer for Schaettle and Kempter. By 1884 he was established in business for himself, using this warehouse which Charles Boehme had erected in 1862. This is the only warehouse that remains intact from the days when Alma served as a major wheat shipping center. In 1892 Heise erected the building to the north. It was used for a machinery warehouse and the implement dealership which his son Herman conducted. William Heise sold the flour and feed business to his son in 1922, the year before he died.

THE WHEAT TRADE IN ALMA: The first wheat shipped out of Alma was handled by Tester & Polin in connection with their mercantile store established in 1857. Other similar operations soon developed so that by 1873 there were 5 warehouses doing business in the village: Polin, Boehme & Kempter, Tritsch, Hatcher and Rabbas. Buffalo County ranked 2nd in the state in total wheat production in 1870 and much of that wheat was being shipped out of Alma ... there were days when Alma's streets were choked with more than 100 teams with wagons waiting to unload their grain. The wheat boom lasted until the end of the 1800s.

NOTE BY CONTRIBUTOR: Grain wagons could back into the warehouse and unload at the Main Street level. Windows facing the river are intact but covered with siding. There is another floor below the warehouse with a barn door and stone foundation. This is at what would have been the river level when warehouse was built. Railroad came to Alma and located between the warehouses and the Mississippi River, cutting off shipping by riverboat.

#AlmaWisconsin #BusinessOpportunityAlmaWI #HistoricAlmaWI

HEISE GRAIN WAREHOUSE | 304 S MAIN STREET, ALMA WI | 1862
This historic Alma building is for sale ... the only warehouse that remains intact from the days when Alma served as a major wheat shipping center (1857-1899). This building complex would make a great restaurant and/or microbrewery. Mississippi River view from the river-side of the building is phenomenal with full view of Lock & Dam #4! -- A rare opportunity to buy an authentic piece of history on Alma's Main Street & the Mississippi River … even the rope & hook to lift heavy product (grain) from the wagons is still intact. We're hoping for great things. The grain warehouse built in 1862 has not been renovated. To the north & attached is the implement store built in 1892, today it houses two apartments.

DEER HUNTING in Alma WI, 19th Century StyleSaturday Morning is the start of Wisconsin's 10-day gun season for deer hunte...
11/17/2018

DEER HUNTING in Alma WI, 19th Century Style
Saturday Morning is the start of Wisconsin's 10-day gun season for deer hunters. Stay safe and be glad you're not wearing a 3-piece suit!

DEER HUNTING In Alma WI
19th Century Style

ARMISTICE DAY BLIZZARD OF 1940Now Veterans Day
11/11/2018

ARMISTICE DAY BLIZZARD OF 1940
Now Veterans Day

ARMISTICE DAY BLIZZARD OF 1940

Upper Mississippi River Valley, 11/11/1940 – It was the end of a 3-day weekend, the morning brought with it unseasonably high temperatures and the duck hunters were on the backwaters of the Mississippi River trying their luck. Conditions quickly deteriorated but the ducks were coming in by the thousands—it was hard to walk away from the “big flight”—a duck hunter’s dream. Temperatures dropped sharply, winds picked up, and rain, followed by sleet and then snow, began to fall. An intense low pressure system had tracked from the southern plains northeastward into western Wisconsin, pulling Gulf of Mexico moisture up from the south and pulling down a cold arctic air mass from the north. The result was the 1940 Armistice Day Blizzard.

This was a raging blizzard that would last into the next day. Snowfalls of up to 27 inches, winds of 50 to 80mph, 20 foot snow drifts, and 50 degree temperature drops were common over parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. In Minnesota, 27 inches of snow fell at Collegeville. Record low pressures were recorded in La Crosse and Duluth. Transportation and communications were crippled, which exacerbated finding the dead and injured. Max Conrad of Winona, Minnesota took to the air in his Piper Cub to find stranded hunters and lead rescuers to their aid. The Armistice Day Blizzard ranks #2 in the area’s list of top-5 weather events of the 20th century.

Dale Engler, a 17-year old from Iron Creek just north of Alma, survived the storm. His written personal account tells of his love for duck hunting, the harrowing details of the storm and how he survived swimming through 3-foot waves on Beef Slough. Very few hunters who went into the water that day lived to tell their story.

Prior to this event, all weather forecasts for the region originated in Chicago and they had gone home anticipating no weather occurrences. The Midwest headquarters of the nation’s weather service in Chicago was not staffed overnight; no one was watching the storm's explosive development in the pre-dawn hours of November 11th. The uproar over this deficiency and the resulting loss of life led to several changes. The Chicago office went to round-the-clock operation and the Twin Cities office was upgraded so it could issue forecasts.

The Alma Area Museum, a project of the Alma Historical Society, offers an exhibit on the Armistice Day Blizzard and although the museum has closed for the 2017 season we encourage you to visit the exhibit next year (June through September). You can often hear visitors who pass by the exhibit at the museum in conversation with their group saying "I remember that day..." or "my father told me stories about ..."

November 11th marks the 77th anniversary of the 2-day blizzard that overwhelmed the Upper Mississippi River Valley in 1940 and took the lives of many local duck hunters. The storm reached from the Dakotas to shipping on Lake Superior & Lake Michigan. In total 154 people lost their lives with injuries to many others. There were heroic efforts up and down the Upper Mississippi River Valley to rescue the many duck hunters, to dig out stranded travelers and to make sure everyone was taken care of following the storm. While tragic, the anniversary of this storm is a great reminder of the caring people and river towns along the Mississippi River, the disappearance of state borders between Wisconsin & Minnesota in a time of emergency and the ability to pull together as a community when needed.

QUILT SHOW HAS ENDEDAfter 30+ years the  Alma Historical Society decided to end it's Annual Quilt Show each October.  Th...
10/08/2018

QUILT SHOW HAS ENDED
After 30+ years the Alma Historical Society decided to end it's Annual Quilt Show each October. Thank you for your past support and attendance.

There is a new area quilting event in September sponsored by Valley Quilters.

"MAIN STREET IMPROVEMENTS" is the eighth & final installment in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of ...
10/02/2018

"MAIN STREET IMPROVEMENTS" is the eighth & final installment in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through ALMA Wisconsin: Historic River Town.

Improvements throughout the years were welcomed but the widening of Main Street to 40 feet in some places was a dramatic event with the loss of trees, porches and 7/10th's of a mile of homes.

September was "Drive the Great River Road Month". Thank you for joining in the celebration of the 80th anniversary of The Great River Road, Wisconsin Great River Road and Wisconsin State Highway 35, Wisconsin's only National Scenic Byway.

10/01/2018
SMOKE STACK DEMOLITION | Alma, Wisconsin

VIDEO Of The Smoke Stack Coming Down
October 1, 2018 the smoke stack at Dairyland's Alma Generating Station was demolished. The power plant began operation in 1947 and was decommissioned in 2014. Buildings were brought down through 2017 and the smoke stack came down today.

Dairyland's John P Madgett power plant, also located on the Alma Site, is still in operation.

Many members of the Alma community worked at the power plant and the town was greatly impacted by it's proximity. The stacks have been a landmark for travelers by water or road for over 70 years.

Smoke stack demolition at Dairyland's Alma Generating Site in Alma, Wisconsin. Plant was opened in 1947 and demolished in 2017, 700 foot stack taken down Oct...

"IMPROVEMENTS IN THE 1950's" is the seventh in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through ...
09/27/2018

"IMPROVEMENTS IN THE 1950's" is the seventh in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through ALMA Wisconsin: Historic River Town. Today very few people know of the "Old Stone House" or the lighthouse on the Mississippi River along Wisconsin State Highway 35, the Wisconsin Great River Road.

September is "Drive the Great River Road Month". Join us in celebrating the 80th anniversary of The Great River Road, Wisconsin State Highway 35, Wisconsin's only National Scenic Byway.

"RIECK'S CORNER & BEEF RIVER" is the sixth in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through A...
09/24/2018

"RIECK'S CORNER & BEEF RIVER" is the sixth in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through ALMA Wisconsin: Historic River Town. Today very few people know of "Rieck's Corner", but you will find Rieck's Lake at the intersection of Wisconsin State Highway 37 and Wisconsin State Highway 35, the Wisconsin Great River Road.

September is "Drive the Great River Road Month". Join us in celebrating the 80th anniversary of The Great River Road, Wisconsin State Highway 35, Wisconsin's only National Scenic Byway.

"DEPOT HILL" is the fifth in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through ALMA Wisconsin: Hi...
09/22/2018

"DEPOT HILL" is the fifth in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through ALMA Wisconsin: Historic River Town. Main Street is Wisconsin State Highway 35 today and the Wisconsin Great River Road.

September is "Drive the Great River Road Month". Join us in celebrating the 80th anniversary of Wisconsin Great River Road, Wisconsin State Highway 35, Wisconsin's only National Scenic Byway.

"STATE HIGHWAY 35" is the fourth in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through ALMA Wiscon...
09/19/2018

"STATE HIGHWAY 35" is the fourth in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through ALMA Wisconsin: Historic River Town. Main Street is Wisconsin State Highway 35 today and the Wisconsin Great River Road.

September is "Drive the Great River Road Month". Join us in celebrating the 80th anniversary of The Great River Road, Wisconsin State Highway 35, Wisconsin's only National Scenic Byway.

"MAIN STREET ALMA" is the third in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through ALMA Wiscons...
09/17/2018

"MAIN STREET ALMA" is the third in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through ALMA Wisconsin: Historic River Town. Main Street is Wisconsin State Highway 35 today and the Wisconsin Great River Road.

September is "Drive the Great River Road Month". Join us in celebrating the 80th anniversary of The Great River Road, Wisconsin State Highway 35, Wisconsin's only National Scenic Byway.

"TOWN ROADS" is the second in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through ALMA Wisconsin: H...
09/15/2018

"TOWN ROADS" is the second in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through ALMA Wisconsin: Historic River Town.

September is "Drive the Great River Road Month". Join us in celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Wisconsin Great River Road Wisconsin State Highway 35, the state's only National Scenic Byway.

"FROM RIVER TO ROAD" is the first in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through ALMA Wisco...
09/13/2018

"FROM RIVER TO ROAD" is the first in a series of Historical Society studies on the impact of The Road through ALMA Wisconsin: Historic River Town.

September is "Drive the Great River Road Month". Join us in celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Wisconsin Great River Road, Wisconsin State Highway 35, the state's only National Scenic Byway.

HISTORIC PICTURE Of Main Street in ALMA Wisconsin: Historic River Town but from an unusual perspective.  Comment below i...
09/12/2018

HISTORIC PICTURE Of Main Street in ALMA Wisconsin: Historic River Town but from an unusual perspective. Comment below if you know the Alma location?

September: Drive The Great River Road Month

SEPTEMBER IS "DRIVE THE GREAT RIVER ROAD MONTH"

Do you recognize this spot along Wisconsin State Highway 35? Share below in a comment. Hint: OK, the caption on the picture gives it away but "where" in Alma?

MORE PICS TO COME! We've collected several historic pictures of the Wisconsin Great River Road in Buffalo County, Wisconsin and will share them throughout the month of September as part of "Drive The Great River Road Month".

The Great River Road is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year and Buffalo County will be sharing historical photos. Whether you are a "local" or a visitor come drive The Road, enjoy the views and experience life in our 19th century river towns and villages of Fountain City, Buffalo City, Cochrane, Alma & Nelson.

September: Drive The Great River Road Month

— at Buffalo County, Wisconsin.

PRESERVING THE FRONT DOOR From 321 South Main StreetThere was a recent renovation of the property at 321 South Main Stre...
09/07/2018

PRESERVING THE FRONT DOOR From 321 South Main Street
There was a recent renovation of the property at 321 South Main Street and the front door was removed and salvaged by Nate at the Junk Market. It was inside his store for awhile but the Blue Door Inn: Alma WI purchased the door for a future project. For now, it's gracing an interior wall of their Inn.

Excerpt From "Alma On The Mississippi", 1980:

DATE OF CONSTRUCTION: 1897
HISTORIC NAME: J L Stohr Furniture Store & Funeral Home
NRHP CLASSIFICATION: Historic District
DESCRIPTION: This 2-story frame building has a one story adition to the north which was originally part of Tester & Schilling's first hardware store. The entire building is covered by a brick veneer which was added by Roy Mueller. The front features a parapet decorated with brackets and an oriel window.
OTHER INFORMATION: J L Stohr erected this building for Frank Tritsch. Its first occupant was the meat market of Frederick Schneider and his sons. In 1905 Stohr purchased the building from Tritsch and moved into it with his furniture and undertaking business.

NEW PROJECT At Blue Door Inn
Suite 1 -- Exterior door from 321 South Main Street

This door was salvaged as part of a 321 South Main Street property renovation and we obtained it. It will become part of the entry way into the exterior attic egress upgrade in a future year, but for now we are installing it into Suite 1 where it will not be a "working" door ... just eye candy! Still need to trim it out and put a light over the door and in the fan window.

601 S MAIN STREET, ALMA WIThis historic Alma house has just sold!  Congratulations to the new owners, we're hoping for g...
09/01/2018

601 S MAIN STREET, ALMA WI
This historic Alma house has just sold! Congratulations to the new owners, we're hoping for great things! The "original" stone house is covered, the stone you see on the house today is a veneer.

Excerpt From "Alma On The Mississippi", 1980:

DATE OF CONSTRUCTION: 1866
HISTORIC NAME: Herman Protz Furniture Store & Family Residence
NRHP CLASSIFICATION: Historic District, Pivotal
DESCRIPTION: This large 2-story building is of stone on the first level and frame on the second. The stone has been veneered with plaster and the original clapboard has been covered with wide siding. The house is built into the rear retaining wall. The roof is gabled and has cornice returns. Green shutters frame the windows which are the original six over six panes. A set of double doors are on the northern part of the front; this is where Herman Protz operated his furniture store.
OTHER INFORMATION: Herman Protz came to Alma in 1866 from Buffalo City. That year he erected this building as a residence and furniture store. He remained in business here until 1888 when he sold his stock to his brother Rudolf. Protz then moved family to North St Paul where he became the vice president of a furniture store.

Address

505 South Second Street
Alma, WI
54610

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Alma Historical Society needs you! While we work with many good corporate citizens throughout the year to meet the needs of our organization, the lifeblood of our support comes from the citizens of our community who join as members, volunteer their time and expertise, and often contribute. Thank you for your support!

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