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Muskego still has plenty of history to tell this year

Jan. 22, 2014

Muskego — A historic sign describing the original Pioneer Drive downtown will be only the first of several plaques the Muskego Historical Society is working on for various historic parts of the city.

The society is contributing to Muskego's 50th anniversary celebration this year by putting up plaques at historic sites.

Muskego Centre Park will be the first to get a historical plaque — in that case, noting the history of the site, located on Pioneer Drive, as a trolley stop that served hotels and the growing tourism industry a century ago.

Other plaques contain varied history. The information on some of those plaques might surprise even longtime residents, said Jerry Hulbert, Historical Society president.

For instance, who knew that entire railroad cars disappeared on the right of way from Pioneer Drive to Racine Avenue? And many might be surprised to learn that Muskego had Nike missile installations during the Cold War.

Plaques describing these and many other historic curiosities will be mounted along city recreation trails passing by those historic sites, Hulbert said. All but one will be paid for by the Historical Society.

"The mission of the Muskego Historical Society is to collect, preserve, interpret and promote Muskego's history for future generations," Hulbert said. "Our sign project will help to fulfill that mission."

Park Arthur

The second historic sign will go up at the city's newest park, Park Arthur, W17833 College Ave. The sign was developed and paid for by the family that had a dairy farm on much of what is now Park Arthur.

The family of Arthur Thiesenhusen wants park visitors to "meet" the family and to know a little more about the parks' origins. The sign will be erected on the walk to the park shelter and ballfields.

Janesville Road

The Historical Society hopes to have a Janesville Road plaque installed there before the grand opening of the widened and beautified Janesville Road, .

Janesville was a plank road back in 1848 with a toll gate about where the Tess Corners Volunteer Fire Department Station is at W17858 Janesville Road, Hulbert said. That's where the society wants to install the plaque that will tell all about the road, he said.

Devil's Teapot

"The "Devil's Teapot," a stretch of railroad track where railroad cars actually mysteriously disappeared, will be the focus of another plaque to be placed close to the former downtown. The area was once a swamp with quicksand, Hulbert explained.

Decades later, the Martin Drive area played a role in the nation's Cold War defenses. Nike missile installations were atop two tall hills. One was a command post and the other installation housed the actual missiles, Hulbert said. The missile silos and the original cement block buildings are still there, he said.

A plaque describing the part Muskego played in the nation's Cold War readiness will be installed near the Nike sites.

Future signs

While research and the wording for those three signs are well along, the society hopes to do additional signs for other historic areas, he said. More information is available at the society's website at muskegohistory.org.

— Jane Ford-Stewart

PARK ARTHUR

This city park is named in honor of Arthur Henry Thiesenhusen (1898-1990) by his wife Myrtle.

He farmed this land until his retirement in 1966. Arthur was the son of William Johann and Henricka "Ricka" (Garbe) Thiesenhusen - both early immigrants to Waukesha County. The Thiesenhusens were from Rosenow, Mecklenburg, Germany and arrived in 1853.

They established their latest dairy farm on the north side of College Avenue in 1880, adding this land in Muskego in 1911. Arthur built a colonial-style home on his land in 1934 as a gift to his new bride Myrtle Honeyager, and raised four sons who attended Muskego schools.

The southernmost portion of the park was once part of the Ralph Martin family farm. The city of Muskego purchased the land in 1997 and opened the park to the public in 2013.

The Arthur H. Thiesenhusen Family — 21 June 2013

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