Murals by Tud Bowden

Throughout the downtown of Platteville Wisconsin you will find historic murals created by Tud Bowden. The murals tell the storys of the rich history of the Platteville area. In the beginnings of creating each mural Tud invests a consideral amount of time researching the story he is wanting to share. By gathering information in the records stored in historical archives and searching for images from the time period, Tud is able to literally paint a picture of yester-year, and share Platteville’s history with great aucuracy.

Below are several of the most current murals created by Tud Bowden. Along with each mural is a bit of the story and history that goes along with them. Although all the murals are designed by Tud, many other people helped to make these murals go from concept to creation to completion. If we have not mentioned someone that was a contributor in the creation of a mural, please let us know. Thank you to all that have been a part in these creations.

“Pioneering the Good Life” Rountree to Ryan

Corner of Main & Oak St, Platteville, Wis.

This three dimensional interactive display features nine prominent people from Platteville’s past. Match the clues to the proper person and check your answers by looking from the side. Dedication of this wall display was Wed 5:30-6pm October 22nd, 2008. The event was well attended, thanks to all that were there.

Platteville Fire Dept. Mural

In April of 1874, a disastrous fire destroyed or damaged 17 businesses on Second and Main Streets in downtown Platteville. It started in Louman’s Saloon. A meat market, harness shop, jewelry store, dry goods store, boot and shoe shop, cigar manufactory, grocery store and another saloon were destroyed.

On May 18, 1874, the Platteville Hook and Ladder Company was formed. The first piece of fire equipment (shown above) was purchased in April of 1874. It cost $300, was 24 feet long and was steered by both sets of wheels. It was built by Butler Wagon Works of Platteville, Wisconsin.

Firemen used leather buckets in place of hoses. Buckets were dipped into cisterns and handed along a bucket brigade to douse the fire. The empty buckets were tossed back to the cisterns to be refilled. They had a total of 36 buckets which were carried on the wagon. If you had a fire, you ran to City Park to ring the bell. That called the firemen to the firehouse. The firemen then pulled the equipment to the fire.

The Babcock Chemical Engine , was purchased in October of 1874. It had 4 wheels and was built mostly of iron painted red with black and gold stripes. It had two fifty gallon tanks (tubs) and 250 feet of hose with a one-half inch nozzle. It was made in Chicago and delivered by train at a cost of $2500. It was normally pulled by hand, but came with a pole so horses could be hitched to it.

Brass “speaking horns” were the walkie-talkies of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. There were two horns, one for each company. The foreman issued the commands through the horns. Also, with the use of a small cork in the speaking end, the horn became a drinking vessel to help celebrate the extinguishing of the most recent blaze.
The Platteville Hook & Ladder Company wore red jackets and were later called the “Reds”. The Mound City Engine Company was formed in November of 1874. They wore blue uniforms and were called the “Blues”. Each company had a twelve member brass band that played when they marched.

Later the MCEC, wearing new uniforms with white pants & blue shirts, and the PH&LC held what was believed to be the first football game played in Platteville. The game was played in a recently occupied cow pasture. After the game, their pants were no longer white. They were so stained that they had to be thrown out. They were the best looking parade uniforms but not the best for playing football. The “Reds” and the “Blues” united and became the Platteville Fire Department, Inc. in 1951. The Platteville Fire Department has a proud history since its founding in 1874. Loss of life and property has been small through the years. We owe a debt of gratitude to the volunteers of the Platteville Fire Department, who put their lives on the line every time they are called out to fight a fire.

THANKS to the Volunteers of the Platteville Fire Department!

Special thanks to all of those who helped to make this project a reality:

Tud Bowden, Graphic Designer, for both the design & execution of the PFD mural, as well as his research & excellent advice.

Brandon Hastings, artist and art teacher at Galena Illinois High School, Chad & Jesse Clayton, the staff at Bowden’s Brush Signs.

Ron Boldt, 40 year PFD volunteer, for the use of his building & providing the rich history of the mural subject.

Platteville Main Street’s Design Committee members who worked on the project: Mary Huck, Louise Jensen, Kathie Kluth & Cheryl Zmina.

Rollo Jamison Museum for their educational display of PFD history.
Mary Schliem, teacher at Westview Elementary, for her cooperation and technical advice.

To all generous financial contributors

Lead Mining Mural

This 1868 lithograph (displayed below) was originally from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Jounal and is the inspiration for the 50′ x 12′ mural . The picture is captioned, “President elect Grant taking a lesson in minerology at the lead mines near Galena, Illinois.” The mural goes on to tell that this event must have taken place near Platteville, Wisconsin since the Platteville Mound is clearly visible on the left horizon. Notice back then the Big M was just a small m, it was only until 1937 when the little”m” was upgraded to it’s present “Big M” status (A little known but true fact, if you believe it.)

I ran across this illustration at the Old Market House in Galena, Illinois while they were featuring a display about Ulysess S Grant, “From womb to tomb”. I was able to find an unframed copy at the Galena Public Library.

The last mine in the in Southwest Wisconsin closed in 1972. This photo of an unknown miner and ore bucket is from about 1912. The inset photo of three miners in the bucket with one of their legs outside the bucket is around 1950. This practice was unique to the mines in the Galena Lead District. One hundred and fifty years of mining has now become lore. This mural serves as a reminder of the hard lives these miners led.

The Platteville Mural Program was featured in an article in the National Main Street News Issue#192 December of 2002. They really liked the “Find these hidden items” part of mural which was a tie-in with educational aspect for the forth graders field trip on local history. The notoriety was nice. Thank You Main Street News