Manitowoc – Two Rivers History

Indians called us “Mundeowk, Home of the Good Spirit” because of our beautiful harbors and rivers. Around the year 1673, French trappers discovered our bountiful offerings and, in 1795, the Northwest Fur Company incorporated a trading post. As building began, many people of Bohemian, French, German, Irish, Norwegian and Polish descent settled in the area.

history - old buildingManitowoc was officially founded in 1836. In 1839, the county government was formed and the first courthouse followed a year later. Early county commissioners authorized the first roads to connect the farms and settlements of the area.

history - shippingBy the 1850s, congregations of most denominations had been organized, and schools, businesses and factories were constructed. The shipbuilding industry played a major role in the growth of Manitowoc. The first wooden sailing ships, with their fine craftsmanship, were built in 1847. Numerous other schooners and clippers were soon to follow and later, pleasure and fishing industry craft. Submarines, landing craft and tankers became the focus of Manitowoc’s shipbuilding industry during times of war.

Today, Manitowoc is a thriving and prosperous community and recognized worldwide as the manufacturer of spectacular yachts. It is also the sole Wisconsin port for the S.S. Badger, the only upscale passenger vessels still sailing on the Great Lakes.

Our area’s greatest resource is, of course, our people. Manitowoc takes great pride in it strong tradition of friendliness and caring. It is with this spirit that we welcome you to Manitowoc… Wisconsin’s Maritime Capitol!

The Home Front: Manitowoc County in World War II is Online

You can now access Manitowoc County’s World War II home front history on the Internet by pointing your browers to: The digital collection contains photographs, artifacts, and documents that explore Manitowoc county’s history from 1939-1947 and is a joint project of Manitowoc County Historical Society, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, the Manitowoc Public Library, the Lester Public Library in Two Rivers, and archival coordinator Carol Gibson. Check back periodically to see what new artifact have been added to the collection. Oh, and if you have Manitowoc County homefront history to add to the project please contact Carol Gibson.

The Manitowoc Marine Band

Manitowoc Marine Band drumsThe present day Manitowoc Marine Band originated in 1898 in the city of Manitowoc under the name of the Aluminum Goods Band and for 107 years the band has performed in numerous parades and concerts in the city of Manitowoc as well as in many of the surrounding communities.

Today, the band is comprised of approximately 60 performing members of all age groups from 13-70 plus years of age and includes fathers, mothers, grandparents, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and cousins with years of service ranging from 1 year to a couple who have played with the band for 50 plus years.

Our season kicks off in May with the Memorial Day parade and Ceremony at the Veterans Memorial. We begin our weekly summer concerts at Washington Park in mid June and go through mid August including a trip to Two Rivers and Sheboygan for our annual exchange concerts. Our performances delight the audience with Polkas, Waltzes, Marches, Big Band, Show Tunes, Classical and just about anything else one could think of. Our summer season then ends with our annual banquet which is used to acknowledge the season’s achievements and thank the city for their support and gratitude. The band then takes a well deserved break only to get back together at the end of October to rehearse for the annual Christmas Concert held at the Senior Center in Manitowoc the first week of December and let’s not foret annual Lakeshore Holiday parade in November.

If interested or would like more information call the Director, Jeff Mix at 920-864-7088.

Making Malt for ‘the king’

They are virtually impossible for any downtown visitor to miss, three replica bottles, each 30 feet wide and 90 feet tall.  But there is not an ounce of beer in the 176 concrete silos behind the bottles that greet drivers and pedestrians at the east end of Washington Street. Not a single can of beer is brewed or bottled in the mammoth manufacturing facility that includes 40 buildings on 23 acres fronting Lake Michigan and owned by Briess Malt & Ingredients Co.  The recognized leader in developing and producing handcrafted specialty malts for the American Craft Beer industry Briess Malt & Ingredients Co. produces more styles of malt than any other malting company in the world.   Briess sets the benchmark for unique flavor, color and performance in handcrafted specialty malts. About 2,700 railcars of barley arrive annually at the plant where the grain is processed into malt. After a series of steps involving cleaning, grading, storage, steeping, germination and kilning, it becomes “the heart and soul” of beer. Barley malt determines a beer’s flavor and coloring and, with modifications, the speed at which the beer can be brewed. From processing in Manitowoc, the malt travels by truck to craft-brewers & home-brewers throughout the country.

158 years of malting in Manitowoc

  • William Rahr erected the malting plant in downtown Manitowoc in 1847. Rahr family members also operated a brewery until Prohibition in 1920, focusing on turing malt into cereals. Beer production did not resume when Prohibition ended in 1933.
  • The Rahrs began selling malt to St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch for its beer as early as 1891.
  • The Manitowoc Malting Plant was sold to Anheuser-Busch in 1962. The Rahr family continues to operate a malting plant in Minnesota and some of its malt goes to A-B breweries.
  • Busch Agricultural Resources, a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch, operates the malting plant in Manitowoc and others in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Moorhead, Minnesota. Together, they supply about half the malt needs for the parent company’s 12 breweries. The other malt comes from commercial malting plants, including the Rahr family.
  • Anheuser-Busch closed the Manitowoc Malt Plant in 2011.
  • Briess Malt & Ingredients Co. purchased the Malt Plant and Storage facilities in 2014
  • Malting operations return in 2015

For more history of Manitowoc County, please visit The Manitowoc County Historical Society and look for their links page.

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