Wisconsin Hometown Stories: Eau Claire

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Discover Eau Claire, a community that was both shaped and empowered by the convergence of two rivers. Follow the origins of the Native people who lived on the land and the growth of timber milling, tire manufacturing, and cookware industries that provided employment for Eau Claire residents. Also learn about a feathered mascot named Old Abe who led area troops into Civil War battles, as well as the influential role the city played in the fight for civil rights in baseball.

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Video Segments and Teaching Resources

Segment Summaries (PDF) | Wisconsin Biographies, Joe Bee Xiong: War to Peace

Credits: Eau Claire Area School District and Chippewa Valley Museum

Segment 1: Introduction
Learn about the topics in the full documentary.

Segment 2: The First Eau Claire
With dense pine forests and prairie lands, the Ojibwe and Sioux found the Eau Claire area rich in resources. Europeans soon came, and lumber camps emerged.

Segment 3: Old Abe
After being captured by Chief Big Sky, Old Abe, a bald eagle, became the mascot during the Civil War before retiring to the state capitol.

Segment 4: The Second Eau Claire
As lumbering diminished, new industries took hold in Eau Claire, including the Gillette Tire Company and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Segment 5: Flying Eagles
Norwegian immigrants brought ski jumping to Eau Claire in the 1880s.
Soon the area became a ski-jumping center of the Midwest.

Segment 6: Breaking Barriers
After Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier of baseball, Henry Aaron played for the minor league team the Eau Claire Bears, and went on to have a Hall of Fame career.

Segment 7: Improvisation
Eau Claire’s downtown area began to fade, but the revival of the local arts led to Eau Claire drawing attention as an arts destination.