If you're heading to Cornell, you can't miss the pride of the city; it can be seen for miles. But, it's a sight that can be confusing since most people don't know what it is.
Yet, it's not all that surprising that the Cornell Stacker is misunderstood; it could quite possibly be the only one left standing... in the world!
From a distance and even up close, there's no doubt it looks like a crane. But, ask anyone in town and they'll kindly set you straight.
"People will always come to town and to the Visitor's Center here and ask 'what's that thing?'"
That thing is the Cornell Stacker. It's such a point of pride in the city that even if you miss the 178 foot tall mass of metal, you'll likely see signs of it all over town.
"In 2012, it's going to be 100 years old and it's still standing, so it's a big piece of pride for the city of Cornell," says Judy Talbot of the 'Save the Stacker' group. "It's on our signs, our T-shirts; it's everywhere you look. We consider this 'Stacker City.' if you go downtown, there's Stacker Cafe. It's on everything!"
Talbot is perhaps one of the proudest members of a group dedicated to saving the stacker and its long, detailed history.
"It was brought here in 1911 and erected at this sight here in Cornell in 1912," Talbot says. "The logs would come in either on the river or by railroad cars. They would come in 81 inch sections and there was a sawmill under the stacker. From there, the wood would be conveyed to the top of the stacker. Then from there, they would drop into piles. They'd be conveyed over to the paper mill where they would be cut down and turned into the paper products."
Talbot says the stacker's main job was to save time in a time where not a lot of people were willing to work in the business of manufacturing wood. But, for years and years in Cornell, the ones who did work worked hard.
"If you talk to any man here over the age of 50, they've at one time worked on the stacker or for the paper mill. Winter, spring, summer, 30 below zero, ice, heat of summer, they'd still have to walk to the top to make sure things were working properly," she says.
In 1971, the stacker shut down when new technology made it obsolete. In 1989, the buildings below it caught fire and were quickly destroyed. But, the stacker still stands today and if Talbot has her way it will remain in Cornell for years to come.
"This pulpwood stacker is the only one left in North America that is still standing. I've done research and it's the only one I've found in the world. It can be seen for miles and miles. It's a piece of history. It's a landmark. It's our legacy."
Talbot and the Save the Stacker group are working on raising $350,000 to sandblast and resurface the rusty stacker. If you'd like to help there's a fund set up called "Save the Stacker" at the Northwestern Bank in Cornell. That address is:
201 Main St
Cornell, WI 54732-8393
The group also is raffling off crafts made by local artists. You can call Judy Talbot for details at (715) 239-6056 or stop by the Visitors Center just feet away from the stacker to buy a ticket. The center is open daily through October from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The winners will be announced at the Cornell Craft Fair on October 25.