Thursday, January 13, 2011

Randy…..when is your next trip to Iowa?

Or Steve….or any of the other readers?  We need someone to check this out, it seems so “Cool”

Inside Iowa City’s “Beer Caves”

IOWA CITY – The corner of Linn and Market in downtown Iowa City is a true mix of business and residential buildings.
But could the next attraction for tourism in Eastern Iowa be hidden beneath the southwest corner of the block, deep under Brewery Square?
“It’s awe-inspiring seeing something this enormous and no one is really aware of it,” said Angela Collins of Iowa City. “It’s like modern spelunking.”
Collins and about 20 others took a tour Wednesday afternoon of the “beer caves” under the old Union Brewery, part of three breweries that operated throughout Iowa City in the 19th Century.
“It’s a beer cave, technically,” said archaeologist Marlin Ingalls, who has taken a lead role in exploring the cave's three stories under the ground level. “It’s about 35 feet down and there’s two beer caves down there.”
Getting to the actual caves takes some ducking and dropping. An elevator to the basement and a quiet glide through a day spa leads to a scene that looks like it’s inside a mine, nestled deep in the earth. Then another ladder drop, about 20 or 25 feet, puts a person on the ground floor. The true ground floor.
Ingalls said the caves were probably constructed in 1855 and used for storage by the brewery.
“They produced about 1,000 kegs a year and the two breweries nearby were all set up for local consumption,” said Ingalls.
One cave is about 70 or 80 feet long and about 20 feet wide, with a limestone floor and bricks on the arched “roof."
Another cave is much more elaborate, with a long cave leading to about a 45-degree angle and a second cave, complete with places for candles and other storage areas.
Rubble and a small amount of litter also fill the edges and corners. Empty cans from a bygone era, such as old Pepsi cans or Milwaukee’s Best cans, were lodged on one side. About a dozen unmarked bottles also led to some etchings, claiming two people were there in January 5, 1986.
The question now comes for what to do about this find? The building’s owner, Mark Moen, recently spoke with The Gazette's Dave DeWitte about a future plan for the caves. One possibility could be a location for wine tastings by restaurants in the cool, 58 degree temperatures of the cave.
“I think it has a lot of potential,” said Mary Bennett of the State Historical Society of Iowa. “So many stories of the Czech settlers and this is evidence of their hard work and what the community was like at the time with all the breweries.”

1 comment:

  1. Not planning a trip until spring anyway. The weather up there is not good.

    However the 58 degrees would feel great about now :)


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