5 Nicknames Only Eau Claire Townies Will Understand
How many of these old-timey Eau Claire monikers do you know?
1. Plank Street Hill
To long-time residents, the steep street that the maps call Harding Avenue has another name: Plank Street. In the early days of Eau Claire, this steep, sandy ridge was a difficult climb for horses, so a road was built out of planks to make travel easier. These wooden boards have been gone for generations, yet the name remains – at least among those of us who’ve lived in town awhile.
The thousands of visitors who will soon be winding their way to the music festival grounds just outside the city limits will have no idea they’re cutting through one of Eau Claire’s oldest and most colorful neighborhoods, Shawtown. This neighborhood, built along the west bank of the Chippewa River around the slopes of Mt. Washington, takes its name from Daniel Shaw’s lumber mill, which once stood here.
3. The Bloody Ninth
Genuine Eau Claire old timers refer to the West Side neighborhood around Bellinger and West Madison streets as “The Bloody Ninth.” More than a century ago the area took its name from both its voting ward and its young people’s pugilistic reputation. As former V1 columnist Frank Smoot wrote in 2012, the Bloody Ninth was a “tough, working-class, immigrant neighborhood, without, as we say now, ‘enough parental controls.’”
4. The Four Corners
Countless communities have a crossroads dubbed “The Four Corners,” and Eau Claire is no exception. Long-time residents will recognize that the title here is applied to the intersection of South Barstow Street and East Grand Avenue. Today, you’ll find the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire on that corner, as well as the parking lot next to The Lismore Hotel, One Source Imaging, and a multi-tenant building. A century ago, the intersection was home to the Eau Claire National Bank and the Union National Bank; just down the street was the massive Ingraham Block, later home to the Midelfort Clinic.
5. The Point
Before it was cleaned up, parkified, and rebranded as the Confluence, locals referred to the spot where the Eau Claire River flows into the Chippewa River as “The Point.” The area was home to the “old gas house” – a former Northern States Power manufactured gas plant – and was largely abandoned and unused by the mid 20th century. Whatever you call it, it’s far from forgotten now as it's the home of Phoenix Park.