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MUSKEGO — A sold-out busload of folks learned about the histories of drinking establishments during a recent pub crawl of historic Muskego pubs, guided by Gary Kulas, Muskego Historical Society member.

The throng grew increasingly happy by stopping at four pubs with the first being  Marx Pioneer Inn, W180 S7808 Pioneer Drive. Marx is located on what used to be a bustling Muskego downtown.

That's when Pioneer Drive was known as the Waterford Plank Road. It connected with the Janesville and Forest Home plank roads, Kulas said.

Marx Pioneer Inn and other drinking establishments have occupied the building since 1910, he said.

A self-proclaimed Muskego bar historian, Kulas more formally is an on-call guide for Historic Milwaukee, Inc., giving walking tours throughout the year and power-point presentations. He also takes out-of-towners on bus tours of the Milwaukee area.

The proceeds from the pub crawl went to the Muskego Historical Society.

 

Lake turned deadly

The first stop was at AJ’s Bar & Grill, S90 W13970 Boxhorn Drive, on Big Muskego Lake where the history students for a day learned from Kulas how a massive temperature drop, affecting Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota, combined with nearly hurricane force winds killed 153 people. 

Two of those were in Muskego. They were out on Big Muskego Lake when temperatures dropped from the upper 60s to the upper teens within a few short hours. At the same time, winds were clocked at 75 mph, Kulas said.

The two were not the only hunters out on the lake on that Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1940, enjoying the unusually balmy November weather, he said. 

There was little warning of plunging temperatures. 

"The Coast Guard came out and saved many, but not those two," Kulas said.

AJ's started out as Ludwig Boxhorn’s Resort in 1919, he said.

 

Venerable history

The next stop was the Bass Bay Brewhouse & Eatery (most recently the Aud-Mar Supper Club), S79 W15851 Aud Mar Drive, on Bass Bay off Little Muskego Lake. Although to most people, this establishment has been the Aud-Mar Supper Club forever, it actually was The Hole in the Wall Tavern and Sandy Beach long before the Aud-Mar opened in 1958, Kulas said.

Becky Rodriguez’s Pack N Brew Bar & Grill, S78 W16355 Woods Road, was next on the pub crawl. The establishment originated as a Schlitz Tied bar in 1904 when it was still legal for the breweries to construct saloons and lease them to tenants who would serve their brand, Kulas said.

 

These tied bars were usually at prime locations, many along the interurban rail rights-of-way and near industrial plants, he said,

The last scheduled stop was at a former hotel and resort that dates back to 1914. Known today as Danny Haskell’s Pub & Grill, W171 S7260 Lannon Drive, it originated as Schubring’s Resort and then became the East Side Hotel, Kulas said.

"People would come up on the old plank road, lease rooms for a week and enjoy Schubring Bay on Little Muskego Lake," Kulas said.

The resort had a “summer bar” outside along with a bar inside the hotel. The resort had an adjoining barn where dances were held, Kulas said.

He paid tribute to all who helped research the pubs and who shared stories they knew. They are Ted Lienhart, Becky Dublinski, Joan Bauman, Marge Ingold, Laura Mishefske, Wally Bohrer Jr., Jerry Fohr, Dick Strauss and Bob Schaefer.

 

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