Tag Archive for: Milwaukee

Wisconsin Urban Legends Panel at 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

Panel on Wisconsin urban legends, as well as new guest speakers, announced for the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference happening this October 14-16.
Cult of Weird will present a panel on Wisconsin urban legends at the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

The latest round of guests to appear at the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference have been announced. Besides an exciting list of speakers (below) to supplement an already great lineup, a new panel has been added to the schedule.

There’s no shortage of weird in Wisconsin. If you’re from here, you have likely followed one odd legend or another down a creepy back road with the hope of encountering something otherworldly. Ghosts, witches, goatman, reclusive circus folk…you know, the usual. That’s why this year’s Paracon will include a panel on Wisconsin’s Wildest Urban Legends.

Here’s what to expect:

This panel will talk about one of the more fun aspects of our folklore– the urban legend. We’ll be talking about Menomonee Fall’s Haunchyville, an alleged colony of angry little people, the bloody legend of Boy Scout Lane in Stevens Point, the break out star of the 2015 Milwaukee Para Con–Goatman!–and more. This panel includes J. Nathan Couch (Goatman: Flesh or Folklore?), Charlie Hintz and Christina Rickman(Cult of Weird), and Valerie Kedrowski (Stevens Point Paranormal). Moderator: Tea Krulos (Monster Hunters, Riverwest Ghost Stories).

Newly announced guest speakers include:

  • UFO researcher and MUFON member Chase Kloetske
  • Beyond Deep Black Radio host Nick Roesler
  • Kristan T. Harris on “The Hidden History of Giants”
  • Dark Star Ministry presents: “Ouija & Tarot: Occult Tools and the Paranormal”

More: MKE Paracon 2016 First Details Announced

Buy your tickets now right here.

For more info go to milwaukeeparacon.com

Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2016 First Details Announced

The Milwaukee Paranormal Conference returns this year with guest speakers, panels, screenings and more. Here’s a quick look at the first details.
Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2016

Get your fix of weird Wisconsin this October at the the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference! This year’s con will be held October 14-16 at the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts located on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus.

Speakers will include:

  • Loren Coleman, founder of the International Cryptozoology Museum
  • Chad Lewis, Wisconsin paranormal researcher, Unexplained Research
  • Mary Marshall, founder and director of The Paranormal MD
  • Allison Jornlin, Milwaukee ghostlorist
  • Celesté Contreras, organizer, Día de los Muertos Milwaukee
  • Summerwind Restoration Society
  • Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee

The first panels announced are:

Haunted Roadtrip with ghost guides Mike Hoke (Cedarburg Ghost & Dark History Walking Tours), Lisa Van Buskirk (Madison Ghost Tour), Kathi Kresol (Haunted Rockford, author of Murder & Mayhem in Rockford, Illinois). Moderated by Mike Huberty of Minneapolis Ghost Tour and the See You On The Other Side podcast.

Searching for Wisconsin’s Sasquatch with Linda S. Godfrey, Jay Bachochin (WPI Hunts the Truth), and Jen and Larry Dopke (Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, Wisconsin). Moderated by Sanjay R. Singhal, RA (Beyond the Forest Radio).

There will also be a pre-con party, Ghost Story Open Mic, Masquerade Ball, screening sessions and more. Con director Tea Krulos (Monster Hunters) kicked off the inaugural Milwaukee Paranormal Conference last year with great success. This year is sure to be bigger, better…and undoubtedly weirder.

Tickets available now right here.

Loren Coleman of the International Cryptozoology Museum
Loren Coleman of the International Cryptozoology Museum will be a keynote speaker at Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2016

More info right here.

See: Close Encounters at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2015

How a Dead Cat Became the Mascot of the Milwaukee Press Club

Meet Anubis, the mummified cat that has served as the sacred emblem of Milwaukee news professionals for over a hundred years after it was stolen from the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1897.
The Sacred Cat hangs above the bar in Milwaukee's Newsroom Pub

The Milwaukee Press Club was established on November 1st, 1885, and remains the oldest continuously operating press club in North America. It’s 300 members are comprised of journalists and other media professionals, marketers, educators and more. And it’s mascot is a 100-year-old mummified cat, which they keep encased above the bar at their downtown Milwaukee headquarters, the Newsroom Pub.

Owned and operated by the Safe House (and connected by a secret passageway), the historic Newsroom Pub is home to Newsmaker luncheons, social gatherings, and other events throughout the year. The walls are marked by a collection of over 1,300 signatures from visiting dignitaries, celebrities, athletes, and politicians dating back to the 1890s.

And then there is Anubis, the mummified “Sacred Cat” of the Milwaukee Press Club.

Anubis, the Sacred Cat of the Newsroom Pub

The story of how the cat came to be in the possession of the Press Club was not told until 1950, when Tom Brahany, Washington correspondent and former personal secretary to President Woodrow Wilson, finally offered a confession by way of an article in the club’s annual magazine:

Fifty years ago a Cat was stolen. I helped to steal it. In this tardy confession, I am not trying to ease my conscience. I confess only because the story is a good one.

Sometime before the turn of the century, the desiccated remains were found in the town of Darlington and donated to the Wisconsin Historical Society. For some time, it was on display in the State Historical Rooms, which were housed in the Capital building in Madison at the time. It was eventually removed, and found it’s way into the office of chief fish and game warden Dud Fernandez. There, it caught the attention of newsman Charlie Lush, who wanted to borrow it for an upcoming cat show in Milwaukee.

According to Brahany’s account, Fernandez said the cat was property of the state, so it couldn’t be borrowed. But after further pleading, he noted that he wasn’t usually in his office in the evenings. “If the cat disappears after hours and I don’t miss him, and he comes back, nobody could blame me,” Fernandez said. “After all, I’m a fish and game warden, not a cat warden.”

So Lush enlisted the help of Brahany, who was just a student journalist at the time. They took the cat from Fernandez’ office after hours and whisked it away on the night train to Milwaukee. After the cat show, however, it never found it’s way back to the Historical Society. Instead, it became the distinguished emblem of the Press Club. They named it Anubis, cleaned it up, and put it on display.

Brahany writes:

Over the years Anubis has been glorified by poets, orators and statesmen. The great of the land have come to wonder and worship.

On the musty shelves of the Historical Society it would have been just another forgotten exhibit, but as the Press Club’s Cat it will live forever enshrined in the hearts of scholars and savants.

Milwaukee Press Club mummified cat logo

Safe House: A Clandestine Lunch Adventure in Milwaukee

If you’re a secret agent looking for a great place to lay low and grab some good food in Milwaukee, the Safe House restaurant is the place to be.
Safe House restaurant in Milwaukee

You’ll find it in downtown Milwaukee, along the river near the life-size bronze replica of Fonzie. An inconspicuous door in a back alley. A nameplate on the wall reads International Imports, LTD. But beyond the door (if you can find the secret entrance) is the legendary, espionage-themed Safe House restaurant.

Since we happened to be wandering around the area on a top secret Cult of Weird mission last weekend, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity for a lunch adventure in once of the most unique restaurants you’ll ever find.

David J. Baldwin opened the Safe House in 1966. But before it was a safe haven for international spies, it was home to a jazz club. I haven’t found any other info about the history of the building, but it’s not hard to imagine the hidden doors and passages serving the clientele of a seedy, prohibition-era speakeasy.

Entrance to the Safe House

We managed to find our way inside, and that’s where the real mission begins. After taking our order, the waitress handed up a scavenger hunt with clues to the secrets hidden around the restaurant. Can you find the piece of the Berlin Wall? How about the cell door from a notorious KGB prison?

600 feet of tubing along the ceiling is the secret behind the Spytini. It’s shaken, not stirred, by zipping around the perimeter of the restaurant. I’m not a martini drinker, but I wanted to order one just to see it in action.

Get your Spytini shaken, not stirred

A piece of the Berlin Wall on display at the Safe House in Milwaukee.

No shooting within the city limits

Return fire here...

Don't disrupt the interrogations.

Spy women only.

If you chose to take refuge at the Safe House next time your mission takes you to Milwaukee, don’t forget to bring a quarter so you can make your escape through the secret subterranean exit.

The Safe House is located somewhere in the vicinity of 779 N. Front Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202. Decode more information on their website at www.safe-house.com

Bonus Find: The Bronze Fonz

The Bronze Fonz on the riverfront in Milwaukee

Milwaukee Public Museum

10 Weird Facts About the Milwaukee Public Museum

The Milwaukee Public Museum has a long history of creating innovative and immersive exhibits. The earliest habitat dioramas were created here, and The Streets of Old Milwaukee transport you directly into the past.

Opened in 1965, The Streets of Old Milwaukee was designed by artist Edward Green to be more than just an exhibit. You wander through a neighborhood on a fall evening, peering through windows into incredibly realistic scenes of life at the turn of the century. There are homes and shops, all filled with authentic items, people and pets. Sure, some of the cats and dogs are looking a bit rough, but it’s all part of the charm (and eeriness) of the experience.

But there is a lot more quirkiness, creepiness and mystery in Milwaukee’s legendary museum if you know where to look. Here are some strange and interesting facts about the museum and its exhibits to think about next time you visit.

The Creepy Granny Takes a lot of Abuse

Creepy walking grandma in the Streets of Old Milwaukee

In The Streets of Old Milwaukee lurks a mannequin of a grandma rocking on her porch that has a tendency to strike fear into the hearts of all who encounter her. After years of abuse and outright assault, Grandma had to be replaced in 1987. These days, she even has her own Twitter account.

But she’s still just as creepy.

Finding the Snake Button

Bison hunt diorama at the Milwaukee Public Museum
Photo by John December/Creative Commons

The Indian Crow Bison Hunt, which was the largest open diorama in the world when it opened in 1966, contains a tiny secret whose discovery has become a quintessential part of the Milwaukee experience. A hidden button makes the rattlesnake in the diorama shake it’s tail.

Do you know where the snake button is?

House That Belonged to a Victim of Belle Gunness?

European Village at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Photo by John December/Creative Commons

Cult contributor J. Nathan Couch tells me that one of the houses in the European Village allegedly belonged to a victim of turn-of-the-century serial killer Belle Gunness.

After the mysterious deaths of her first two husbands, the “Black Widow” began placing ads in newspapers looking for a new husband. Many men responded, a number of them from Wisconsin. Gunness corresponded with potential suitors by mail, beckoning them to visit her on her farm in La Porte, Indiana and “come prepared to stay forever.”

The men arrived on her farm with their life savings…and then vanished. The Mistress of Murder Farm was poisoning them, butchering them and feeding them to her hogs.

Did one of the houses in the European Village once belong to a victim of serial killer Belle Gunness? And if so, which one?

A Lion Once Lived on the Roof

Milwaukee Public Museum director Dr. Sam Barrett, leading an expedition to Africa in 1928, purchased Simba from a group of Massai people who had found the lion cub wandering alone after a grass fire. He was brought back to Milwaukee, where he spent some time living in the museum’s taxidermy studio until a special structure was built for him on the roof.

After chipping a tooth chewing on his bowling ball, Simba was transferred to the Washington Park Zoo, the precursor to the Milwaukee Public Zoo, where he lived out the rest of his long life. When he finally died, Simba was given a permanent home in one of the museum’s dioramas.

The lion that lived on the roof of the Milwaukee Public Museum

During Simba’s time the museum shared a building with the library. Today, the roof of Central Library where he once lived is a green roof, with tours happening on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Samson Taxidermy is a Re-Creation

Milwaukee Public Museum taxidermist Wendy Christensen works on Samson the gorilla

Featured in a recent issue of National Geographic, the mount of Milwaukee’s famous gorilla Samson is a re-creation by the museum’s resident taxidermist Wendy Christensen. After 25 years in a freezer at the zoo, Samson’s skin was too damaged to mount. So Christensen used his plaster death mask and photos to bring him back to life using synthetic materials, such as fur provided by National Fiber Technology, the company that supplies wookie fur for Star Wars.

When she took Samson to the World Taxidermy Championships in 2009, Christensen won several awards for her work, including Best of Show and Best in World, Re-Creation.

The Samson re-creation, as well as his articulated skeleton, are on display in the museum’s Victorian-style Sense of Wonder natural history exhibit.

Carl Akeley’s Muskrat Cabinet

Taxidermist Carl Akeley created the muskrats, the world's first habitat diorama, in 1890 at the Milwaukee Public Museum

Legendary taxidermist Carl Akeley pioneered the art of modern taxidermy during his time working at the Milwaukee Public Museum, where he created the world’s first habitat-style diorama in 1890 – the muskrat cabinet by the bathrooms on the second floor. His work inspired museum exhibit designers around the world, and it became known as “the Milwaukee style.”

Streets of Old Milwaukee Inspired House on the Rock

Streets of Yesterday at House on the Rock
Streets of Yesterday at House on the Rock. Photo: Alexis Fam/Creative Commons

Deep within the bizarre caverns of House on the Rock you can walk through the Streets of Yesterday, a dark and surreal re-creation of a street in the 19th century. Streets of Yesterday made its debut in 1971, inspired by the techniques devised for The Streets of Old Milwaukee.

Mound Builder Princess Was Once on Display

Aztalan princess burial on display at the Milwaukee Public Museum

The remains of what is believed to have been a princess of the ancient and mysterious Mound Builders were unearthed by Sam Barrett during excavations of Aztalan. She is one of only a few burials discovered in what was once a thriving Northern outpost for the Middle Mississippian people.

Unlike any other remains found in Wisconsin, these were adorned in shells from as far away as the Gulf of Mexico.

The princess of Aztalan was on display at the museum until 1973, when she was removed due to controversy over the disturbance of Native American burials.

One Guy Was Used for 4 Different Mannequins

Museum exhibit designer Thomas Shea
Milwaukee Public Museum exhibit designer Thomas Shea.

In a video on the creation of the Crossroads of Civilization exhibit, designer Thomas Shea says he’s undergone a full body cast four times over the years for the creation of various people around the museum.

Most recently, Shea was cast for the Persian archer. He now battles beside his brother, who was cast for the Greek hoplite in the early 90s.

Where else can you find him?

Also, the museum handyman was the model for Tutankhamun’s ear.

Herb Was Butchered By Humans 14,500 Years Ago

Milwaukee Public Museum mammoth bones

It’s a strange feeling to look at the bones of an animal that was eaten by humans 14,500 years ago. Herb, a hebior mammoth, was found in 1979 by a farmer in Kenosha County, less than 30 miles from the museum.

Butchering marks on the bones indicate that people were present in North America 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.

There is no much history inside the walls of the Milwaukee Public Museum. Are there more weird facts that should have been included? Tell me about it in the comments below.