Eau Claire Area Historical Photographs, Chippewa Valley Museum

More than 1,100 photographs depicting Eau Claire and the surrounding area are now available online from the Chippewa Valley Museum archives. The Museum has partnered with the L. E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire to provide access to this wide-ranging collection, which offers a look at businesses, industry, recreation, and daily life in northwest Wisconsin in the 19th and 20th centuries. The digital collection is organized into thirteen browsable subject categories, including “All About Music,” “Downtown Eau Claire,” and “Summer Sports and Recreation.”

Eau Claire’s longstanding ties to professional baseball are documented in team portraits of the Eau Claire Bears (1937-1942; 1946-1953), later known as the Eau Claire Braves (1954-1962), a minor-league team affiliated with the Chicago Cubs and, later, the Boston Braves. Baseball legend Hank Aaron played his first season of professional baseball with the Eau Claire Bears in 1952. The history of baseball in Eau Claire has been documented by students in the Public History program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire,  who conducted oral history interviews with Eau Claire residents involved in the local baseball scene in the 1940s and 50s.


Team portrait of the 1952 Eau Claire Bears, including Hank Aaron (second row, far left). Chippewa Valley Museum.

The Eau Claire Bears played in Carson Park, which still hosts baseball games and has also been the home of the Chippewa Valley Museum since 1974. The park itself, situated on a peninsula extending into the dramatic oxbow of Half Moon Lake, is well represented in the digital collection through photographs of the grounds, beaches, sporting events, picnics, and aerial views of the distinctive landscape.

Evelyn Welsh and Mahala Ray swimming at Half Moon Lake, Eau Claire, 1916. Chippewa Valley Museum.

Evelyn Welsh and Mahala Ray swimming at Half Moon Lake, Eau Claire, 1916. Chippewa Valley Museum.

Barstow Street looking south, 1897-1902. Chippewa Valley Museum.

Barstow Street looking south, Eau Claire, 1897-1902. Chippewa Valley Museum.

Chippewa Valley Sweet Adelines barbershop-style women's choral group, 1969. Chippewa Valley Museum.

Chippewa Valley chapter of the Sweet Adelines (a barbershop-style women’s choral group), 1969. Chippewa Valley Museum.

The Chippewa Valley Museum and L. E. Phillips Library developed this digital collection in collaboration with the ResCarta Foundation of La Crosse. The Museum worked with volunteers to scan the original photographs, and a small start-up grant from the Eau Claire Historic Preservation Foundation helped to get the digitization program off the ground. A large group of photographs related to logging and lumbering in the Eau Claire area will soon be added to the digital collection.

Browse and search the Eau Claire Area Historical Photographs collection.
See more historical materials digitized by the L. E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, including city directories and Eau Claire high school yearbooks.


  1. Hunter Brooks:

    This is Hunter Brooks… I am studying the American Iron Mining Company from 1887, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Please if any historical foundation, Museum, etc. has any information on or about this topic. contact me by email. I would appreciate the help.

    • Joseph Linck:

      Iron ore would have been shipped using river barges. Do you have any knowledge of when river navigation ceased at Eau Claire ?

  2. Recollection WI:

    Hi Hunter,

    The staff at the Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire might be able to help. You can contact the museum at info@cvmuseum.com

  3. Diane Chartrand:

    I have a relative of a little league team from Eau Claire with the name “The Ramp Bar” – Eau Claire, Wis on the front of the shirts. Can you tell us where that bar may have been and any info you may have? He’s putting together a scrapbook for his grandson and wants to add some information below the picture. Thank you for your efforts.

    • Recollection WI:

      Hi Diane,
      I’ve forwarded your question to staff at the Chippewa Valley Museum and the public library in Eau Claire. We’ll see if they have any information!
      Emily — Recollection Wisconsin

      • Recollection WI:

        Update: We took to Twitter and asked Volume One, the culture and entertainment magazine for the Chippewa Valley. They tell us the Ramp Bar was located at 316 Gibson Street. There’s an advertisement for the bar in the July 27, 1954 issue of the Eau Claire Leader.

    • kim Stoecker:

      My parents owned the Ramp Bar in Eau Claire in the 1950’s. I know it was downtown Eau Claire, but I was a baby then. I don’t think they were in business too long.

  4. Joseph Linck:

    Does anyone know when the last barges navigated the river at Eau Claire,or have any pictures ? Please advise.

    River historian, Naftamarine@aol.com

  5. Wow!

  6. Earl Anderson:

    Is there anyone out there who is familiar with “Jack Downens” as a term for moonshine? William M. Biss (my 3rd-great grandfather) uses it in his Civil War diary, in an entry for Christmas 1862, when he was in Camp Randall, Madison: “The Jack Downens was out.”

    “Jack Downens” can’t have anything to do with “Jack Daniel’s,” which wasn’t manufactured until 1875 in Moore County, Tennessee.

Post a Comment

* (will not be published)