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HISTORY OF THE HUMBIRD

Updated: Nov 3, 2023


Humbird was first called Rocky Mound City by the original settlers which was taken from the nickname that they gave the bluff which overlooks the town, Rocky Mound. The Hotel Bar was originally built by prominent businessman George W. King between 1869-1871 and was one of the first buildings to be erected in the town and was originally called Rocky Mound House. It stands proudly on a street bearing it's makers name (King St.) and has lasted thru two millennia, a testament to its builder and the structures of its time.

Humbird was founded in 1868 and adopted its name from Jacob Humbird, a well known railroad contractor who fell in love with area when he began the construction of the West Wisconsin railroad, 180 miles in length, which is a portion of the railroad between Chicago and St. Paul.​


In the Fall of 1873, a gentleman from Chicago got off the train in Humbird to get a room at the Hotel Bar as he felt very sick. Later it was discovered that he had smallpox. In a tragic event many people contracted the disease as it spread uncontrollably through the town and many people died. At the time, the death rate was very rapid, and the only building in town that could house that many sick people was the Hotel Bar. Many people passed away in the rooms upstairs. That winter the bodies were put into a mass grave that is located just a few miles out of town.

Even though Humbird today is a very small community, it was quite the bustling metropolis back in its day, all thanks to the railroad which brought trade, goods, and tourists to the area on The 400, the name given to the line as it took 400 minutes to go from Chicago to St. Paul. Humbird was the exact halfway point between the two, and so passengers could get off the train and get a cold beer, a shot of whiskey, some food, and a room for the night at the Hotel Bar, while resuming their trip the next day. It also served as a bordello for many years before and after prohibition.

Humbird has had it's brushes with desperados and even famous mobsters. In 1928 on a trip with his caravan of gangsters from Chicago to Hayward WI, Al Capone broke down in his favorite personal vehicle just outside of Humbird. Mr. Capone and his crew found a local mechanic named Clarence Olson to fix his Cadillac as his goons patrolled the outside of his shop with machine guns. Mr. Olson fixed the vehicle after a few hours, but story has it he refused to take Mr. Capones money. They drove Mr. Clarence two miles out of town and dropped him off to walk home. Two weeks later Mr. Clarence received a letter in the mail from his bank saying the deed to his property and shop had been paid in full, by an unknown source, but most probably Al Capone.

Humbirdians even have their own wave called The Humbird Wave. Maybe ask a local to show you the wave when you are in town.

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