The first snowfall of this winter reminded me of an article I ran across in the 1887 Marshfield Times about a toboggan club and its slide here in Marshfield.
On Jan. 20, 1887, a group of prominent citizens of Marshfield held "an enthusiastic meeting at the Tremont House parlors, for the purpose of organizing a Toboggan Club. The necessary funds were raised to build a slide, and the following officers were elected: George R. Martin, President; George Stein, Jr., Vice President; A. C. Baumgartner, Secretary; M. H. Wheeler, Treasurer; and a Board of Directors - W. H. Upham, J. B. Gill and M. L. Roeder."
The money was raised by the issuance of stock in the club, which was purchased by the members. The slide, location to be determined, was to open in 10 days.
A "Toboggan Exchange" was opened at the Tremont House, and active trading of the stock in the club took place. Value of the stock continued to rise rapidly as it was bought and sold by the members.
The following were members trading in the "stock market" of the Marshfield Toboggan Club Exchange: J. B. Gill, M. L. Roeder, W. H. Upham, A. C. Baumgartner, J. H. Matthes, George Martin, Ed. Finney, F. R. Upham, W. L. Little, W. A. Sexton, F. Vollmer, R. L. Kraus, H. A. Lathrop, A. Jones, F. W. Upham, M. H. Wheeler, Geo. Stein, Jr., D. F. Clark, Vernon Peck, C. S. Vedder, Fred Baumgartner and Charles Rust. W. H. Upham was a particularly heavy trader, buying much of the stock and pushing the value up.
The men also adopted uniforms for the club to be worn when operating the slide and for any other club functions. Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate any pictures of the group in uniform. If any of you have such a photo, please let me know.
The story of the slide was also a feature story in the Marshfield Demokrat, one of the two German-language newspapers in the city as well as in a very long poem by P. J. Krause titled "The Toboggan Craze," which names many of the men involved in the project and makes comments about them, which are not always the most flattering. I will put the poem in my next column on the opening of the slide on Jan. 31, 1887.
Tobogganing was not just a local craze in the 1880s but was widespread across the state. People would travel to slides throughout the state for a chance to feel the thrill of the slide down the chute, the run through the snow and the cold wind on their faces.
Next time we will locate the slide, describe opening night and read the personal description of the members in Mr. Kraus' poem.
Ken Wood is a member of the Marshfield Historic Preservation Committee and on the board of directors for the North Wood County Historical Society. Write to him at email@example.com.