October 25, 2013

Fridays with Maia

The thermometer read a cool 46 degrees but it felt like 36 in the shade and 56 in the sunshine! The occasional gusts of wind made it 5 degrees cooler. So our goal for today was: "Stay in the sun and out of the wind!" Not a bad motto for the day, or for life for that matter.

With that in mind, we explored Lime Kiln Park in Grafton. Each time Maia had passed by the park with her parents, she saw the playground and hoped to stop but they were always on their way to somewhere else and never made it inside. So at her dad's recommendation, we decided to investigate today this park that holds so much allure for Maia.

The park entrance welcomes with a sign and lovely park pavilion building. Around the corner, you're immediately struck by the massive and beautiful limestone kilns.

On closer inspection, a sign explains how the kilns worked and what their purpose was:
"This park was once part of a limestone quarry operated the Milwaukee Falls Limestone Company, incorporated in 1890. Five vertical kilns were built for burning limestone from the quarry on the site to make quicklime. The kilns were built of stone lined with firebrick. The fasteners on the timbers are nuts threaded onto long steel rods through the structures to reinforce them.
The kilns were fueled with cordwood, creating temperatures from 1,400 to 2,000 degrees Farenheit, converting calcium carbonate to calcium oxide or lime, which when mixed with water, was widely used in construction and tanning hides.
Mules pulled the trams of limestone from the quarries to the crusher, and then cables pulled them on tracks atop the kilns which were stoked with cordwood in the fireboxes below. When the limestone was dehydrated, it was pounded into a fine powder which was used for plaster, mortar, fertilizer and whitewash. A spur line carried the processed lime to the main line of the old Wisconsin Central Railway for shipments to Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit. By the spring of 1901, the Milwaukee Falls Lime Co. employed 50 men and shipped 5-6 train car loads of lime per day. The kilns stopped operating in the 1920's.
The three remaining kilns were restored many years ago, and serve as monumental reminders of Grafton's industrial activity and related history during the late 19th and early 20th centuries."

As we stood at the back side of the kilns, we could hear water rushing and geese honking...so we followed the sounds down a small hill to find the Milwaukee River in its fall glory...

And finally, after our little history lesson and brush with nature, Maia was at last able 
to connect with the object of her affections. 

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