Independence is a small town in Trempealeau County. It is also an old town, founded in 1875 when the railroad came through. It is a town working hard to reinvigorate itself. A noticeable indicator of this is the impressive municipal building. You can see its spire from miles away. The town was mysteriously attractive to me as a great place to take photos of a rural Wisconsin town striving to hold on in the midst of tough economic times. The Trempealeau river runs through town. A dam has been positioned under the main road through town to create the small Bugle Lake.
left center this photo is the A Garthus Building, constructed in 1895 and named after Amund Garthus, the five-time Town mayor. He and Henry Hanson founded the Garthus Store in 1881 which operated until 1953.
This is the Weier Building, constructed in 1892. It is named after August Weier. he fought in WWI. The enemy employed poison gas from which he ultimately died in 1927.
If you visit Independence, you must visit Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Parish. You can’t miss it since it is on Hwy 93. It is also known as Kosciol SS. Piotr I Pawla in Polish.
Three Polish families came to the area in the 1860s looking the area over. Their fellow townspeople from Siolkowice and Popielów in Polish Silesia followed over the next two decades. They were farmers who owned their own farms in Poland and wanted to come to the US. It is a magnificent church.
I mentioned earlier the town is old. It has many old buildings to prove it. I roamed among them to photograph some. I did this because I thought they had their own beauty. They give the town a flavor that interested me. Here are some of them.
The Green Bay and Western Railroad put Independence on the map. It runs almost parallel to the Trempealeau River. David Kelly promoted the line. He founded the village on the land he bought for the depot in 1876. It had been known as Burnside, but Kelly renamed it Independence in honor of the nation’s centennial of independence. Passenger service between Green Bay and Winona, Minnesota ended in 1949. Freight trains still use the line.
This once was the Independence Co—Operative Creamery. It was built in 1927. It manufactured the Independence Brand 93 Score Butter. Its motto was “Won its favor thru its flavor!” Grade AA is the highest possible grade for butter. It must achieve a score of 93 out of 100 points based on its aroma, flavor and texture. The building now serves as an Antique & Refinishing shop.
The Wisconsin Historical Society says this is the Leo Breska Texaco Company Service Station. The Society has written:
“It exhibits design indicative of the Spanish Colonial Revival style, such as stuccoed walls, multipaned windows, a stepped parapet, and a tile roof. Leo Breska built this station in 1931 as STH 93 (Burrows Road) was being improved. Breska leased his station to Texaco for one half of cent per gallon of gas sold.
“The station is currently owned by Loren Nelson, who operates an auto-repair business in the building. Following an
aneurysm, Nelson decided to follow his true passion by restoring the station, outfitting it with historically accurate petroliana. The station is featured on the cover of Fill'er Up: The Glory Days of Wisconsin Gas Stations.”
Independence is small, old, working hard to stay alive as a town, and is filled with lots of fun things to view if you’re paying attention!