‘It’s like a treasure chest that’s hidden from us’: 1860s underground beer cave unearthed in Iowa

Peninsula Premier Admin

A beer cellar that once chilled cold drinks for the oldest brewery in Iowa has gotten its close-up. Though historians and locals have known about the existence of the cellar, it hadn’t been seen for generations until it was rediscovered earlier this year.”It’s like a treasure chest that’s hidden from us,” said Linda Smith, chair of the Madison County Historic Preservation Commission. “We know a little bit of its history and there was a brewery here, but it’s just better to see the physical evidence.”The ground has been dug out, exposing the entrance to the cellar.On Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Transportation used a light detecting and a ranging unit to scan the structure to the most minute detail. “We can compare the architecture, we can compare the stone mason work,” said Brennan Dolan from the department of transportation. “It’s just incredible the level of detail we can capture through a tool like that.”Morris Schroeder’s brewery on the north side of Winterset started in the mid-1860s, but it caught the ire of some locals, and eventually, some town ordinances forced it out of business by the early 1880s.Schroeder moved to Nebraska, but the beer cellar has remained in the same place. “It’s not about the structure,” Smith said. “It often starts with the structure, but it’s about the people and their lives and where they moved and how they interacted in the society of the town.”Previous coverage: 19th century beer cave rediscovered in Winterset

A beer cellar that once chilled cold drinks for the oldest brewery in Iowa has gotten its close-up.

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Though historians and locals have known about the existence of the cellar, it hadn’t been seen for generations until it was rediscovered earlier this year.

“It’s like a treasure chest that’s hidden from us,” said Linda Smith, chair of the Madison County Historic Preservation Commission. “We know a little bit of its history and there was a brewery here, but it’s just better to see the physical evidence.”

The ground has been dug out, exposing the entrance to the cellar.

On Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Transportation used a light detecting and a ranging unit to scan the structure to the most minute detail.

“We can compare the architecture, we can compare the stone mason work,” said Brennan Dolan from the department of transportation. “It’s just incredible the level of detail we can capture through a tool like that.”

Morris Schroeder’s brewery on the north side of Winterset started in the mid-1860s, but it caught the ire of some locals, and eventually, some town ordinances forced it out of business by the early 1880s.

Schroeder moved to Nebraska, but the beer cellar has remained in the same place.

“It’s not about the structure,” Smith said. “It often starts with the structure, but it’s about the people and their lives and where they moved and how they interacted in the society of the town.”

Previous coverage: 19th century beer cave rediscovered in Winterset

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