AS YOU GET TO KNOW EAU CLAIRE, you’ll see the names of certain prominent local figures from history plastered all over the town. Here are four of the people behind those names.
What’s named after him? The public library, UWEC’s science hall, the senior center, a Scout camp, and lots more! • Who was he? President of Eau Claire-based National Presto Industries for nearly three decades in the mid-20th century, he was also a major philanthropist. • Fun fact: Presto is still around, and makes everything from salad shooters to military ammunition.
What’s named after him? The Historic Randall Park Neighborhood, Randall Park, Randall Street. • Who was he? An early settler, entrepreneur, and politician. In the 1850s, he owned much of what is now Eau Claire’s west side, and he donated land for a park, a cemetery, and churches. • Fun fact: He’s the guy whose statue is in the middle of Randall Park.
HENRY CLEVELAND PUTNAM
What’s named after him? Putnam Park, Putnam Trail, Putnam Drive, Putnam Heights Neighborhood. • Who was he? One the city’s founding fathers, he made a fortune investing in lumber and later became a conservationist. • Fun fact: Katherine Putnam Hall is named after his daughter.
What’s named after him? Carson Park. • Who was he? A late-19th century lumber baron whose heirs donated Carson Park to the city in 1914. The park is home to UWEC football and countless rec opportunities. • Fun fact: In 1892, eight of Wisconsin’s 64 millionaires – including Carson – lived in Eau Claire.
One of the greatest men to ever play baseball got his start right here in town. Henry Aaron’s first pro gig playing baseball was for the Eau Claire Bears in 1952 – then part of the Boston (soon to be Milwaukee, then Atlanta) Braves’ farm program. He quickly moved up and after one season was promoted to another team.
FACT CHECK: Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Titanic, Jack Dawson, says he’s from Chippewa Falls, and remembers swimming in Lake Wissota – which actually didn’t exist in at the time the Titanic sailed.