January 22, 2017
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Boyles Ice House, which was on the main rail line through Salem and Silver Lake. The rail stoppedr unning in May 1939. ( Image courtesy of Valentine digital collection )

Is there a train at the bottom of Silver Lake?

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An anonymous Curious Kenosha visitor asked us this question: “I’ve heard there was a train that you use to go across Silver Lake during the winter, and that there is a train car sunken. Is this true?”

We looked into it, and have a definitive answer:

The rumor that a train car is sunken in Silver Lake is false.

Buildings such as the former Elks Club/Hertitage House may have been considered abandoned at some point, but the city is working with developers in an attempt to save the structure. ( BRIAN PASSINO )

Curious Kenosha: Why do buildings stay empty so long?

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As development and redevelopment proceed at a steady pace, questions often arise about how existing buildings in Kenosha can remain vacant or abandoned for long periods of time.

Kenosha News reader Lorrie Marzini asked: “Why do we allow so many empty store fronts and buildings to sit for such long periods of time? Can’t restrictions be put in place to stop this?”

An answer to the first part of that question can be difficult to nail down. There are differences between something that is vacant and something that’s abandoned.

A sign welcomes passer-bys to Kenosha on Washington Rd. ( KEVIN POIRIER )

Curious Kenosha: The community melting pot

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Often a maturing community is faced with an influx of new faces. With them come new thoughts, ideas, cultures and ways of doing things.

That can sometimes cause a rub for newcomers and established residents.

Kenosha is no different.

The Bowfin Ruin is located at Southport Marina, across from HarborPark. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Curious Kenosha: Bowfin Ruin history remains a mystery

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Reader Guida Brown tossed us this Curious Kenosha inquiry: “What is the Bowfin Ruin? Is it art? A smokestack from a historic building? Why is it called Bowfin Ruin”?

Bowfin Ruin is a sculpture created in 1991 by Wisconsin artist Terese Agnew and installed when the graders were still leveling the former Chrysler plant grounds in the HarborPark area.

As the Southport Marina was being improved with a restroom-shower building and parking lot, the Tot Park was built nearby with a $100,000 donation from the Kenosha Rotary Club.

Rob Greskoviak and his son Jacob in the kitchen at Villa d Carlo. ( BILL SIEL )

Curious Kenosha: What’s the longest-run pizza place in Kenosha?

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Pizza. Kenosha. If they make it, we will eat it.

Whether it is because Italian families historically accounted for a strong segment of Kenosha’s early population, or because we just find the combined textures and flavors of melted cheese, savory sauce and oven-crisp crust irresistible, pizza has long played a dominant role in Kenosha’s culinary scene.

For how long? Well over half a century.

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Curious Kenosha: Why no north-side Starbucks location?

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A curious Kenosha News reader had a thought about coffee:

“I guess I am too frequent a customer,” wrote Pete Wicklund. “And maybe I'm spoiled. But five Starbucks along or just off Highway 50? Yet we have nothing along Highway 31 between Highway 158 and Washington Road?”

How can that be, Wicklund wonders.

Joseph Vigneri leads a tour through the Rhode Center for the Art, far above the stage in the fly loft. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BILL SIEL )

Curious Kenosha: Exploring the city’s haunted places

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A door unexpectedly slams shut, papers fly off a desk, something seems to whisper in your ear, the lights flicker on and off. Do you blame ghosts or chalk it up to a sudden gust of wind, or maybe even that extra glass of wine?

Over the years, people have reported “unsettling” experiences at some of Kenosha’s oldest and best-preserved buildings.

Some of the first Curious Kenosha requests came from readers asking us to explain the unexplainable. Here’s our investigation, just in time for Halloween. We recommend you read this with the lights on.

Stacks of ash trees removed from Petrifying Springs Park. The emerald ash borer has devastated the ash tree population in Kenosha County. ( KENOSHA NEWS FILE PHOTO BY KEVIN POIRIER )

Curious Kenosha: What’s the plan for dead ash trees?

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Leaves aren’t the only things falling from trees these days.

City workers removed about 500 ash trees this year, with more than 3,000 others scheduled to be taken down in the future among concerns over falling branches, limbs and other debris, according to city forester Dirk Nelson. The emerald ash borer is to blame for this mess and the extensive cleanup project needed to remove the area’s entire ash population.

The Kenosha News looked into this issue after a question about ash trees received the most votes in a Curious Kenosha voting round. The question, asked by an anonymous user, was:

Kenosha County East End Parks Supervisor Joe Ranchel shows Mary Beth Drechsler, of Kenosha, the spring Petrifying Springs County Park is named after. She is the first person to get her question answered by the Kenosha News Curious Kenosha team. ( KEVIN POIRIER )

Curious Kenosha: How did Petrifying Springs get its name?

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One of the first questions to come in for Curious Kenosha was from Mary Beth Drechsler, who wanted to know the history of Petrifying Springs County Park in Somers.

She lives on the north side of Kenosha, trekked through the backwoods of the park as a child and always wondered why the park was named as it is.

Drechsler and her husband, Carl, of Kenosha tagged along with us out to the park on Friday to get answers from Eastern Kenosha County Parks Superintendent Joe Ranchel.

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