On May 14, 1952, the Milwaukee Journal printed an article promoting the idea of an automobile trip to various Milwaukee County Parks, including Estabrook. The article advised visitors not to miss an artifact that was then a well-known attraction in the park but today has been forgotten.
To find this overlooked Estabrook attraction, one parks in the southernmost parking lot and crosses the road to the Lannon stone restroom building, behind which runs a paved path. On the opposite side of the path, just southwest of the building, in the deep shadows of the trees, is a large flat rock with two deep oval-shaped depressions.
“Legend has it,” the paper reported in 1952, “this stone was used by the early Indians for grinding corn. They put the grain in the hollows and pounded it.”
The reporter called it a ‘legend’ because, after all this time, who can say for certain? However, it may well be true. If so, this rock was used by Milwaukee’s earliest settlers, 2,000 years ago.
The earliest settlements in the area were built along waterways, and the Milwaukee River is close by this rock.
In 1919, Alanson Skinner of the Milwaukee Public Museum excavated a large burial mound where today’s Hubbard Park Lodge now stands, a short distance to the south. The mound builder culture typically created earthworks in areas where natural resources could sustain a long-term settlement.
Estabrook Park was the site of one of those settlements. Archaeologists have found stone tools, pottery, hearthstones, and other artifacts in the park dating back more than 2,000 years.
Also discovered were the bones of the people who once lived in Estabrook.
The rock itself is about four feet long and three feet wide. There is the nub of a half-inch metal rod embedded in the stone. It might be the attachment point for a long-gone historical marker. Or not. Again, who can tell?