The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Hurley kicks off anniversary celebration


July 28, 2018

Jean Nordine/Daily Globe

Vietnam Veteran Bob Morzenti (right) and U.S. Navy Veteran Bill Thomas raise the flag at Hurley City Hall during the kick off for Hurley Heritage Days. In the background is retired Major Fred Matusewic who gave a brief history of the city of Hurley.

HURLEY - The City of Hurley kicked off their 100th year anniversary celebration yesterday with a flag raising ceremony at Hurley City Hall.

Mayor Paul Mullard welcomed those gathered before turning things over to retired U.S. Army Major Fred Matusewic who was in charge of the change of flags with the local color guard.

While Hurley resident Susan Walesewicz sang the National Anthem, Vietnam Veteran Bob Morzenti and U.S. Navy Veteran Bill Thomas raised a U.S. flag and a Wisconsin state flag that were given to the city, each having been flown over the state capital.

The city received certificates of congratulations from Governor Walker and U.S. Representative Sean Duffy, and state representative Beth Meyers was in attendance to also offer her congratulations.

Matusewic read from a prepared speech about the history of the city. Excerpts of the speech are quoted below.

Hurley's History

Hurley took its name from M.A. Hurley, a prominent attorney who won a lawsuit for the Northern Chief Iron Company in 1884. The compensation for winning the law suit was that he asked for no fee, but only requested that the town involved in the case be named after him. The full name "Glen Hurley", was used for one year, but in 1885, the first name was dropped and the community became known as Hurley.

Henry Meade was the first Mayor of Hurley. John Ankers opened Hurley's first saloon, and served as Hurley's first town clerk, first justice of the peace, and first fire chief.

Celebrating the centennial of our small town calls to mind the determination and perseverance of those who arrived nearly 40 years before the charter of the city in 1918. The abundance of iron ore discovered in 1879 quickly yielded forests alive with men of all nationalities, creeds, and temperaments armed with true grit. Any historic account of the early development of Hurley and its surroundings would be incomplete without the mention of the activity of E.A. Hayes and his brother J.O. Hayes. These two men were the first to start ore mining on a scientific basis.

In 1883, the Hayes brothers shipped a boiler and a pump from Ashland to Mellen, the end of the railway line at that time. From Mellen, a trail had to be cut through the forest and streams bridged to convey this heavy machinery the thirty odd miles to the mining camp. The machinery had to be dragged by oxen, and two miles a day was considered very satisfactory progress.

Hurley's first mining machinery was set up on what is now Germania Hill. Alongside mining operations, lumber was another thriving industry. These were great days for the city of Hurley. In 1887 the town boasted more than 7000 permanent residents and hundreds of lumberjacks who came and went with the seasons. Schools, churches, and banks were established within a couple years of the pioneers arriving.

Disaster struck that year in the form of two devastating fires. The first broke out on June 27 and before it could be contained one whole block of buildings on Silver Street had been destroyed. Two weeks later a second fire ruined the entire business district. It destroyed all the buildings between Silver and Copper streets on Fifth Avenue.

Very few of the business men had any insurance, yet with the same resoluteness that spawned the mining and lumber industries, most of them found a way to re-establish themselves.

Mining has ceased but the legacy carved out by our early settlers remains. Take a walk down Silver Street and visit Hurley's architectural history. We celebrate our heritage in the form of National Finnish American Festival Cultural Center, known as Little Finland and the annual Festival Italiano. The Iron County Historical Museum, entrusted with the care of relics left behind, gives us an opportunity to time travel back to the days of old. The Plummer Mine Interpretive Park serves as a tangible icon reminiscent of that grit upon which our community was built.

Today our city continues to persevere. We offer various activities anyone can enjoy. Residents and visitors take pleasure in our natural beauty with opportunities to view abundant waterfalls, wilderness and wildlife. We boast claim to the 2005 Guinness World Record for the largest ATV parade with 687 participants and host the Paavo Nurmi Marathon, Wisconsin's longest running marathon.

It is fair to say the J.E. Murphy, an educator in the Hurley schools for 50 years, was an institution in Hurley. It is also fair to say that his life touched almost everyone for over a half century. J.E. Murphy came to Hurley in 1904 as a principal in the school system. Two years later he became the superintendent. His tenure saw three and four generations of students.

He said: "What constitutes a town? Its industries? To some extent yes. Its business? Again to some extent, yes. Its wealth and resources? To some extent, yes. But far greater and far more important than all of these, the very raw material from which all industries, business, wealth, and resources spring, the real wealth, the real resources of a city lie in the character and equality of its people. In this most priceless of all resources, Hurley has been and will always be rich."


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