John Manke is an active former Bay View resident who is involved in numerous neighborhood organizations, including the Bay View Historical Society, the Humboldt Park Fourth of July Association and the Shore Shore Farmers Market. He believes Bay View has a fine tradition in its past that we do not want to lose in the future.
We had an old coal furnace in our house. It was a headache trying to keep water inside of it to establish humidity. Taking out the ashes and clinkers was heavy dirty work. Keeping the fire going with coal was also dirty hard work. Whenever we had snow or ice on the sidewalks or in the alley, the coal ash and clinkers were used to remove the ice. Your car always had traction when you drove on a ash filled alley. We had very few falls on the icey sidewalks when we used the ashes to remove the ice. We lived at the end of the alley and the surface would have been muddy if we did not establish a layer of ashes on it. The coal ash was almost like concrete on a muddy surface. Today when we use salt or sand to remove the ice, we do not have the same quality of grit that the coal ash has. Coal ash and clinkers are a thing of the past most likely forgotten by people.
When we had the Bay View Rolling Mills, ashes from the mill would be used in creating the road beds of the local streets and alleys. The base created by the coal ash was almost as strong as concrete on the local streets. This part of Bay View history is mostly forgotten by people.