Milwaukee Resort Towns

When Chicago’s population boomed in the 1800s, the new population frequently traveled “up north” to Milwaukee for vacations. Different Milwaukee companies built resorts in the towns surrounding the city to increase profits from tourists. These “resort towns” attracted visitors from all over Wisconsin and Illinois and helped boost Milwaukee’s social status and economy.

Whitefish Bay Pabst Resort (Image courtesy of the Whitefish Bay Historical Society).
Whitefish Bay Pabst Resort (Image courtesy of the Whitefish Bay Historical Society).

One of the most famous Milwaukee resorts was the Whitefish Bay Pabst Resort. In 1888, Captain Frederick Pabst built a family-oriented recreational resort in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. The Whitefish Bay Pabst Resort opened in 1889 and consisted of a 48-foot circular bar, ladies room, dining room, and porch overlooking Lake Michigan. The resort hired 150 staff members, including waiters, band members, and German yodelers.

Whitefish Bay Pabst Resort (Image courtesy of the Whitefish Bay Historical Society).
Whitefish Bay Pabst Resort (Image courtesy of the Whitefish Bay Historical Society).

The easy transportation and scenic location attracted over 15,000 people to the resort every weekend. The resort became so popular that many famous people, including Wisconsin’s governor and President Theodore Roosevelt, came to visit.

The resort provided freshly caught Whitefish from its fishing bay and music from Milwaukee bands for its visitors. Other entertainment at the resort included outdoor movies, a ferris wheel, shooting, and swimming. The children’s favorite part of the resort was eating the famous ice cream, which was made by the turning of the ferris wheel. Additionally, many clubs and organizations in Milwaukee, including Milwaukee’s Wheelmen Bicycle Club, used the resort for meetings and conventions.

Whitefish Bay Pabst Resort ferris wheel (Image courtesy of the Whitefish Bay Historical Society).
Whitefish Bay Pabst Resort ferris wheel (Image courtesy of the Whitefish Bay Historical Society).

One purpose of the Whitefish Bay Pabst Resort was to increase Pabst profits, so the only alcoholic beverages sold at the resort were Pabst products. However, Pabst did not make enough variety of drinks to satisfy the average family. For example, any resort visitor under the age of 18 had nothing to drink besides water. As a solution, Pabst contacted the local Whitefish Bay Cassel Soda Bottling Company. The two agreed that Cassel could sell his soda at the resort and would benefit from all of the profits. In return, Pabst would attract the younger generation to come visit the resort. Overall, the resort was a huge success and helped the C. Cassel Soda Company stay in business for over 20 years.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Object story created October 2014.