Thanks for Asking | Dec. 16, 2010

our local jack-of-all-facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot |

If you go up Quarry Street in Shawtown (across from Caradori Pottery), there is a tiny house on the left-hand side of the road. I don’t mean small, I mean TINY. What is the story on this diminutive dwelling?

Thanks for asking! You’re right: easily the smallest house in Eau Claire. Easily. I bet it’s not 200 square feet.

It originally sat in the woods between Rock Falls and Meridean. About 60 years ago, the Brandrup family loaded it up and hauled it to their lot at 1521 Quarry. It became 1521B. Rented it to single folk. Place has a kitchenette, a bathroom, and a little space between. Most renters had a sleeper sofa or a trundle bed. A trapdoor in the bathroom leads to a full basement. Whole thing’s heated by a Jungers oil stove.

Don’t know if it’s interesting, but one long-term tenant was a fellow who was a dwarf. Makes a certain amount of sense, really.

Recently the City of Chippewa Falls opened up the rebuilt River Street. Now, when traveling west, one can see a large arch in the railroad bridge next to the Chippewa River. I was wondering if that was where an old road once went.

Here’s what I know: it was not a named street. The rest involves some guesswork.

The land on the west side of the bridge (now a Canadian National Railway line) has been zoned “heavy industrial” forever. (In fact, Chippewa Falls industry was born in the River Street area.) One example: in the roaring Twenties, Boone Tire & Rubber sat next to Chippewa Foundry & Machine, on the riverbank, spitting distance from the bridge. The Chippewa Sugar Company – seriously, sugar! – stood a little farther west.

I’m guessing that the negotiations between the railroad (Soo Line at the time), city, and state involved designing an archway into this combo of two girder bridges (one over the street and one over the river), to give commercial truck traffic easy access to West River St.

The industrial zone has since been re-graded – and the little nexus of Wagner St. and West River St. has been redesigned several times over the decades. I’m sure that during one of those redesigns somebody thought, Wow, huh, maybe it’s not such a good idea, heavy trucks merging onto Business 29 while blinded by a giant concrete railroad bridge.

What do you know about the old graves on Hwy 37, west side of road, south of West Creek? We were told stories when we were kids but would like to know the real story. What stories have you heard?

Do tell. I only know it as a private Noyes family cemetery.

There may be some horrible scandal, but the bare facts only suggest Ira Noyes’ life was full of tragedy. He and his wife Hephzibah buried two of their children there, a boy, Smith, and a girl, Minnie. (At least two more girls, Rachael and Mary, survived to move on into their adult lives.)

Shortly after Minnie’s death, Hephzibah died at 45; she also lies in the cemetery. Ira then married Amanda Herring. She lived only four years after their wedding. In August 1877, Ira and his third wife Clarissa (Clara for short) sold their 160 acres in the town of Brunswick “excepting a half-acre now used as a burial ground.” I start to lose the trail after that, although I do know Ira and Clara had two children, William and Clara.

Got a local question? Send it (17 S. Barstow St.) or email it ( and Frank will answer it!  Frank has lived in Eau Claire for most of the past 43 years. He is an editor and researcher at the Chippewa Valley Museum, which is open all year just beyond the Paul Bunyan Camp Museum in beautiful Carson Park. You should go there.