The former quarry-dump is reborn as Hartung Park

From 1910 to 1961, the Hartung Quarry, located along the Menomonee River Parkway, was located in a residential area between Burleigh Street and Capitol Drive. The quarry was named for Wauwatosa farmer Frederick Hartung, who began mining the land in 1910 and mining the mineral dolomite which was used in the construction of homes and businesses in the area.

The quarry was over 100 feet deep and approximately three million tons of rock were excavated. It became a dump in the 1960s and was converted to a park in 2010. The city used the 17-acre site as a landfill for clean construction waste from 1964 until it reached capacity. The quarry was used to dump rubbish and was renamed Hartung Quarry Landfill. Milwaukee was very careful about operating the landfill by dumping only clean waste because there was a plan that had been around for some time to convert the area into a park.

The city-owned landfill was surrounded by a single-family neighborhood and for more than 50 years, trucks roared through its streets. After the neighborhood was built, residents objected to the noise and dirt and eventually the landfill was closed. When the quarry closed, the gigantic rock quarry hole slowly filled in with dirt and concrete from earlier excavations as the neighborhood developed around it.

Daredevil Boys

In the late 1950s, neighbors remember the whistle before the explosions went off. Many homes would shake. resulting in the departure of many families from the region. During the 60s and 70s, neighborhood daredevil boys rode bikes for adventures on the quarry shelves.

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Operated by Wauwatosa and the City of Milwaukee, Hartung Park opened in 2010 and uses green infrastructure to help prevent water pollution in Milwaukee area rivers and Lake Michigan. Residents of the surrounding neighborhood fully supported a plan to convert it into a park by covering the contaminated embankment with clean dirt and grass.

The installations include bronze statues representing the fossils of organisms that inhabited the region during Silurian times (more than 400 million years ago). One fossil, the trilobite, is recognized as the state fossil of Wisconsin. Even though it has been many years since the source rock has been exposed, I wonder if there are still any fossils to be found. Probably not, but when it comes to history, my curiosity always wins out.

Adam Levin

Adam Levin is the administrator of the Old Milwaukee Facebook group and author of Fading Ads of Milwaukee.

Read more by Adam Levin

March 08, 2022

11:44 am

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