There are just some moments that stick with you, from great happiness to immense sadness, from victory to tragedy. Here in Wisconsin, there’s some things that have happened that have left an indelible mark on our consciousness. Of course the events depend on when you were born, so with that in mind, I’ve kept the list to pretty much the last 50 years. Here are some of the biggest events in recent history that folk born here aren’t likely to forget.
1. Braves Move to Atlanta
An injunction put it off for a year, but in 1966 the Braves headed off to Atlanta, leaving Milwaukee without a baseball team. The Braves were in Milwaukee from 1953-1966 and won the World Series in 1957 as well as two NL pennants. The Milwaukee Braves are the only major league team who played more than one season and never had a losing record.
2. Super Bowls 1 and 2
We love our Packers here and one of the reasons is because of their history. One of the oldest teams in existence, we have a lot of pride in our "Titletown" moniker and that came about thanks to the Packers' wins in Super Bowls I and II. That second championship was Vince Lombardi's last with the club, so it has even more meaning.
3. 1967 Dow Jones Protests at University of Wisconsin-Madison
In October 1967, recruiters from Dow Chemical, who made napalm, were recruiting on the UW-Madison campus and anti-war sentiment was high, leading to protests. When they blocked access to a building, Madison police showed up and started moving people by force. It was the first time tear gas was used on an anti-war demonstration and numerous people were hospitalized after being beaten bloody. According to UW, "The violence of the event is credited with politicizing thousands of previously apathetic students and helping to transform the Madison campus into one of the nation's leading anti-war communities."
4. Baseball returns to Milwaukee
In 1970, after a couple of false starts, MLB baseball returned to Milwaukee when the Seattle Pilots moved after one season and became the Milwaukee Brewers.
5. Sterling Hall Bombing
Sterling Hall on UW-Madison's campus was bombed on August 24, 1970. An anti-war protest, this bombing targeted the university's research connections with the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. It resulted in the death of a university physics researcher and injuries to three others.
6. March 1976 Ice Storm
A devastating ice storm hit in 1976 that affected nearly the entire state. It devastated counties, left many without power and is still remembered as one of the worst natural disasters in Wisconsin history. Ice ended up 5" thick. Many places were without power for days. In the end, 21 Wisconsin counties were declared Federal Disaster Areas. Newspapers from the time say estimates of the damage were more than $8 million dollars, which is more than $34 million in today's money.
7. Barnaveld Tornadoes
In 1984, there was a tornado outbreak across much of the US. It affected the town of Barneveld, as an F5 tornado blew through the town and was responsible for nine deaths and nearly 200 injuries while causing about $25 million in damage. Tje tornado came shortly after midnight, so much of the town was asleep and did not know about the warnings. The tornado traveled 36 miles over 59 minutes and at its peak, was nearly a quarter-mile wide.
8. Jeffrey Dahmer
Wisconsin's most infamous resident, Dahmer killed 17 people from 1978-1991 and kept pieces of the remains in refrigerators and freezers. He was arrested in 1991 when one of his victims escaped and ran to police. What followed horrified the county as stories of Dahmer's sick and demented crimes came to light.
9. Cryptosporidium Outbreak
The largest water-borne disease outbreak in United States history, more than 400,000 people were sickened by faulty water treatment from the Howard Avenue Water Purification plant. There was a two-week water boil advisory. Numbers of both sickness and deaths in relation to the outbreak are difficult to track, as many sicknesses were not reported as they were often treated at home. Though with compromised immune systems were more vulnerable and the outbreak may have lead to their deaths.
10. Oakfield Tornado
This tornado, combined with heavy storms, decimated Oakfield in 1996. Nearly 15% of the homes in town were destroyed, with another 56 homes and businesses suffering heavy damage. There were 11 other tornadoes in Wisconsin due to this storm, including one causing a casualty in Marytown.
11. Packers win Super Bowl XXXL
It had been 29 years since the Packers had won a championship and with a young, exciting team, they returned the Vince Lombardi trophy to Titletown. There aren't many Wisconsinites that don't remember Brett Favre running around with his arms up or Desmond Howard's punt returns.
12. Big Blue Crane Collapse
On July 14, 1999, the Big Blue crane that was being used to construct Miller Park collapsed. Three workers who were on an observation platform were killed when the crane fell on it. There is a statue commemorating them outside of Miller Park.
13. 1-94 Fog Crash
In 2002, drivers described hitting a wall of fog along I-43 in Sheboygan county. Visibility was zero and more than 50 cars were involved in a pile-up crash. There were 10 casualties in this biggest auto accident in state history.
14. Brewers make first postseason in 26 years
Photo courtesy of author
There was a lot to love about the "new look" Brewers in the early 2000's. Tons of young talent had been brought up through their system and then the Brew Crew brought in CC Sabathia. The season came down to the final game, which the Brewers won. But their Wild Card berth was contingent on what happened in the Marlins vs. Mets game, so no one left Miller Park, the game was put on the scoreboard and everyone waited for the results. The players were on the field or hanging over the dugout and more than 40,000 people waited out the end of that game before the celebration commenced. It was a truly unique moment.
15. Super Bowl XLV
It was another 14 year break, but another young and exciting Packers team brought another trophy to Green Bay in 2011.
16. 2011 NLDS
Photo Courtesy of Author
In 2008, the Brewers broke a long streak by earning the Wild Card, but in 2011, they won their first post-season series since 1982 in dramatic fashion. Nyger Morgan's bloop hit in the 10th inning scored Carlos Gomez to give the Brewers the game and series win. It was pandemonium in Miller Park and a pretty amazing moment in Wisconsin sports.
What are the Wisconsin moments you’ll never forget? Let us know about them in the comments!