Last week, workers clearing land for the future site of a Route 66-themed park on College Street in Springfield, Missouri, found a series of underground rooms that probably were at least a century old.
This week, media outlets — including the Springfield News-Leader — found the tunnel once was part of the Springfield Brewing Co.
A 1969 report from Springfield Plateau Grotto, which explores caves in southwest Missouri, provided the details:
“The first cellar was 37 feet long, 16 feet wide and 10 feet high, constructed of laid Burlington stone in the classic arched form typical of brewery cellars in such places as Hermann, Missouri and the brewery caves of St. Louis,” the report reads. […]
“Two ventilation shafts penetrated the ceiling of the second cellar; these were filled with trash, including what appeared to be an ancient stove or safe. The other shaft had been used to dispose of large quantities of soda bottle caps, among other debris,” the report reads. “The trash had been in the cellars for many years as shown by the almost complete oxidation of metal containers. These were almost entirely rust, though the ancient labels of some of the cans could still be read.”
And KSPR-TV in Springfield provided some details about the long-gone brewery:
German immigrant Sebastian Dingeldein moved to Springfield in 1876. He signed a ten-year lease on Springfield’s only brewery, and later bought it. He owned the company for almost 15 years. In that time, he more than doubled its production selling beer throughout Southwest Missouri and Northern Arkansas.
Jason Dingeldein, Sebastian’s great-great grandson, says, “A hundred years ago he would have been a well known member of the community, and, it’s just amazing to think that we have that connection.”
According to the Brewery History Society journal, the first brewery — which later became Springfield Brewing Co. — was established in 1872. For a time, Dingeldein’s company was called Southwest Brewery. The brewery eventually closed in 1911.
After that, there was no beer brewing in Springfield until the beginning of the microbrewing era in the 1990s. That includes Mother’s Brewing Co., which is right on Route 66, and the resurrected Springfield Brewing Co., which is at another location from the original.
The city hasn’t decided what to do about the tunnels, but a Public Works Department spokeswoman said its historical nature is a good fit with the Route 66 park and some sort of marker is likely.
(Image of the Springfield Brewing Co. via City of Springfield)