Volume One Contributors

writers, photographers, artists

Frank Smoot

author

Content By This Contributor:

Eau Claire's Legendary "Cave Lady"

Frank Smoot, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Let's enjoy a blast from the past (July 7, 2011 to be exact) as former Volume One columnist and local history ninja Frank Smoot details the very true tale of a very real cave along the Eau Claire River – and the very real lady who once lived in it.

Old Songs in Our Hearts

musical threads are woven deep into the valley's history

Frank Smoot

When he was but a lad, my friend Noah Taylor asked the adults assembled, Wouldn’t your life be better if you had your own personal soundtrack? Why yes, Noah, yes it would. Fortunately for Eau Claire, its people have always had songs in their hearts, and I’m not talking about the downtown ...

The Final Thanks for Asking

The beloved Volume One column draws to a close as its author embarks on a new adventure on the Oregon Coast. Here, Frank Smoot picks a few of his favorites from the series’ historic run.

Frank Smoot

People love history. They love stories, context, and a chance to reflect on the events and people who’ve come before them. These elements and more have solidified Frank Smoot’s “Thanks for Asking” column ...

Thanks for Asking | August 15, 2013

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

Frank Smoot

How did Half Moon Lake get its name? Thanks for asking. In one way it seems simple enough, doesn’t it? I mean, look at ...

Thanks for Asking | July 18, 2013

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

On a city street rain gutter/grate I saw that it was made by Northwestern Motor Company, Eau Claire. Can you tell me about them and why a motor company made city street rain gutters? And for how long?

Thanks for Asking | June 20, 2013

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

"There’s been a lot of talk lately about Jackie Robinson and that got me wondering about a local baseball question. I have the “famed” 1952 Eau Claire Bears team photo poster in my house (which I got from V1 at The Local Store!) ..."

Thanks for Asking | May 23, 2013

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

The horses’ heads that are on the brick wall outside on The Livery on Wisconsin Street: Are they “new,” or left from when the building was actually a livery stable years ago?

Thanks for Asking | April 25, 2013

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

Do you have any information on a large derelict house 12 miles north of Chippewa Falls on Highway 124 at the junction of 182nd Avenue? I believe it is known as Twelve...

Thanks for Asking | Mar. 28, 2013

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

At the recent passing of either Ann Landers or Abby Van Buren, it was stated that when they lived in Eau Claire that they were socialites. What activities made them a socialite and what people today are considered socialites in Eau Claire? And ...

Thanks for Asking | Feb. 28, 2013

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

What do you know about Pfefferkorn Photography from Augusta, WI? I have two old photographs (deceased in coffins) from that business. I find it interesting that photographers back then went to great lengths to photograph these subjects. The floral...

Thanks for Asking | Jan. 31, 2013

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

There is a place I have always wondered about, Mount Hope Corners. Its location on old county maps was just south of where we live in the town of Brunswick. I haven’t been able to find any info about it.

Thanks for Asking | Dec. 27, 2012

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

What do you know about the Modern Book Bindery that once operated downtown?

Thanks for Asking | Nov. 29, 2012

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

"The Kline Building at 6 S. Barstow Street was built by local architect Charles A. Pear. Are there any other buildings designed by Pear left in Eau Claire, or anywhere? Do you have any other information about Pear and his work?"

Thanks for Asking | Sept. 20, 2012

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

"We were reading a plaque on the bike trail down from the parking lot behind the Galloway Grille, and it said something about explorer Jonathon Carver naming the Eau Claire River. Could you give us a backstory?"

Thanks for Asking | Sept. 6, 2012

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

Years ago a man named George Brunner owned The Outdoor Sport Shop on North Barstow across from what is now the Pad Thai restaurant. He was a friend of my Grandpa’s. My Dad said Mr. Brunner had a daughter who moved out west, became a member of ...

Thanks for Asking | August 9, 2012

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

What is the tall tower that stands between the two church properties on East Hamilton Avenue?

Thanks for Asking | July 12, 2012

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

What was the name of the bakery near or at the current location of the video game store next to Pad Thai? I remember one being there when I was younger. Thanks for asking! You didn’t say exactly when you were younger, but I bet you’re thinking ...

Thanks for Asking | June 14, 2012

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

I own Eau Claire’s newest winery and only distillery. We’re about to debut our vodka and my question is: Has there ever been another distillery in Eau Claire?

Thanks for Asking | May 17, 2012

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

In a previous article, you mentioned the neighborhood on the west side was called “the bloody Ninth.” I actually went to Ninth Ward School in the ’40s and didn’t realize it was called that. How did it get that name? ...

Thanks for Asking | April 19, 2012

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

Savvy readers often send additions and corrections. In my last column (March 8) I’d answered a question from Karl Markgraf about O’Neill Creek cemetery near Eagle Point. After the issue came out, V1 reader Duane Popple reminded me that Daniel ...

Thanks for Asking | Feb. 9, 2012

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

I’ve heard that Eau Claire had the first outbreak of Legionnaires Disease. True?

Thanks for Asking | Dec. 8, 2011

our local Jack-of-all-Facts tells you how it is

Frank Smoot

In 1879, the Eau Claire Free Press opined, “It is a matter of great moment to our people that the metropolis of the Valley should be a center in all things desirable and accessory to the highest civilization and culture.

Thanks for Asking | Nov. 10, 2011

Our Local Jack-Of-All-Facts Tells You How It Is

Frank Smoot

There’s a plaque on the base of the flagpole at the Eau Claire Area School District building up on Main Street. It says it’s made from metal from the USS Maine, which sank in 1898. How did we get it?

Thanks for Asking | Oct. 13, 2011

Our Local Jack-Of-All-Facts Tells You How It Is

Frank Smoot

When you come into town you see DOT highway signs for restaurants and gas stations. How much does it cost to advertise on those?

Thanks for Asking | Sep. 1, 2011

Our Local Jack-Of-All-Facts Tells You How It Is

Frank Smoot

"I heard that Hillcrest Country Club Golf course was originally started by workers at Uniroyal. Management from Uniroyal did not want to golf with the workers, so the workers started their own club, Hillcrest."

FEATURE: Tube Town

Trevor Kupfer, Kaitlyn Heisick, Eric Rasmussen, Frank Smoot, photos by V1 Staff & Contributors 

The Chippewa Valley has a massive inner-tube floating scene, and this guide breaks down the local origin of the activity, what the big annual events are all about, the economic impact of it, plus what you need, where to go, and how to do it right.

Thanks for Asking | Aug. 4, 2011

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

Frank Smoot

A friend of mine at work (a big sports fan) was telling me about Hobbsy’s Bar in Hallie. In the 1950s or 60s two Hobbs brothers (related to the family that owns the bar) were outstanding football players first at Regis and then at the UW as Badgers.

Thanks for Asking | July 7, 2011

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

Frank Smoot

I walked along the south bank of the Eau Claire River between the Dewey Street bridge and the S-bridge by Banbury. I had heard there was a cave on the north bank, but I couldn’t see it. Do you know where it is?

Thanks for Asking | June 9, 2011

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

Frank Smoot

“Tough, strong men with energy to burn – sometimes not much to do with it, except sit around with an old hound dog in the evenings and brag about who was the greatest lumberjack of them all ..."

Thanks for Asking | May 12, 2011

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

Frank Smoot

There is a really cool building in Menomonie that I have always been curious about. It is on Wilson Avenue West, down the hill behind the Acoustic Cafe, on the right side of the street. Please help me figure out the history of this building.

Thanks for Asking | Apr. 14, 2011

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

Frank Smoot

Wisconsin’s flirtation with the KKK was short-lived, but nonetheless scary at the time. Between 1922 and 1924, membership grew to more 40,000. Chippewa County alone had 1,300 enrolled.

Thanks for Asking | Mar. 17, 2011

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

Frank Smoot

How many dams are there on the Chippewa River? I can think of four, but are there more?

Thanks for Asking | Feb. 17, 2011

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

Frank Smoot

Somebody called me and said he’d read on the internet that the first snowman ever made was made in Eau Claire. Could it be? No, it could not.

Thanks for Asking | Jan. 20, 2011

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

Frank Smoot

I’m curious about the road that runs through the east side of the park, Putnam Drive. I once heard a rumor that this trail was originally cleared by soldiers, including a young Jefferson Davis. Is there any truth to that?

Thanks for Asking | Dec. 16, 2010

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

Frank Smoot

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.

Thanks for Asking | Nov. 18, 2010

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

Frank Smoot

When the Genealogical Research Society of Eau Claire (GRSEC) did a survey of Drammen Cemetery in 1996, they found 18 graves. Ten years later, a fellow named James Seidelman went through and photographed the stones – all 11 of them. Now there are six.

Thanks for Asking | Oct. 21, 2010

answering your questions to the very best of Frank's considerable ability

Frank Smoot

I pass by the old firehouse off Vine several times a day. What’s the deal with the building? It’s awesome! Will it go for sale?

Thanks for Asking | Sept. 9, 2010

answering your questions to the very best of Frank's considerable ability

Frank Smoot

Is there some safety/legal/economic/carbuncle reason that prevents Eau Claire from developing public river fun spots?

Thanks for Asking | Aug. 12, 2010

answering your questions to the very best of Frank's considerable ability

Frank Smoot

I understand there was a hospital where Carson Park is now. Where exactly was the hospital?

Horseradish, I Say!

Investigating som of the rural rumors about Silver Spring and Huntsinger

Frank Smoot, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Horseradish was an inspired idea for a truck gardener, because you can harvest in the fall and have money coming in winter as well as summer.

Thanks for Asking | July 15, 2010

answering your questions to the very best of Frank's considerable ability

Frank Smoot

Apparently Presto needed a site to store ammunition away from the plant so that, if sabotaged, it would not compromise the plant itself?

Thanks for Asking | June 17, 2010

answering your questions to the very best of Frank's considerable ability

Frank Smoot

I live southeast of town and can see two towers when I look toward Eau Claire ...

Thanks for Asking | May 19, 2010

What’s the best way to get from Water Street to Oakwood Mall?

Frank Smoot

answering your questions to the very best of Frank's considerable ability

Thanks for Asking | April 22, 2010

answering your questions to the very best of Frank's considerable ability

Frank Smoot

"I heard Sarah Palin has a family connection to Eau Claire. Is that true?"

Thanks for Asking | March 25, 2010

Frank Smoot

"Why are so many old cemeteries so close to bodies of water? Weren’t they worried about water contamination?"

Thanks for Asking | February 25, 2010

answering your questions to the very best of his considerable ability

Frank Smoot

"My mother-in-law was wondering if we had any POW or internment camps here. Do you know?"

Thanks for Asking | January 28, 2010

Frank Smoot

“I’m an insomniac. At four o’clock one morning I saw you on an episode of Animal Planet’s new show The Haunted, and I wanted to know where the story was set. The bridges looked like Chippewa Falls or maybe Jim Falls …”

Thanks for Asking |
December 24 2009

What are the top 5 celebrity appearances in the Valley?

Frank Smoot

"Well, some locals beat-down the Insane Clown Posse on Water Street in 2001."