Hurley had the reputation of being a tough town, with lots of bars.
Jim Draeger and Mark Speltz in their book Bottoms Up describe the town:
"Many Wisconsin cities never truly were dry. The most infamous was Hurley, a notorious northern Wisconsin city with a long history of vice. Prohibition agents staged massive raids on Hurley, but each time the saloonkeepers paid their fines and went back to the usual business. On December 27, 1926, federal agents padlocked twenty-nine Hurley saloons in a single day. A 1931 raid closed forty-two saloons resulting in the arrest of sixty people--or one out of every forty Hurley residents. In an economy dependent of revenues from drinking, gambling, and prostitution, local officers looked the other way and the city continued its business with routine harassment by enforcement officials."
I remember a story from about 1950 told me by a young teenager who lived in the Vilas County area. (He was a friend of the family that owned North Star Lodge where my family was staying.) On Halloween, when the boy was about ten to twelve years old, his father would take him up to Hurley, dressed in some kind of Halloween costume. While his father stood at the door, he would go into a bar, toss his costume hat on the bar and call out, "Trick or Treat." This got a lot of different reactions, and his father was standing by if they were hostile. But the most common reaction was to toss a coin or two into the hat. Repeating this in most of the bars in town made a very lucrative Halloween evening!
In her novel, Come and Get It, Edna Ferber portrayed the logging industry in Wisconsin, including scenes of the northwoods. Her town of Iron Ridge is based on Hurley, and the Burton House in Hurley is the model for her Ridge House in Come and Get It. Wikipedia's [downloaded 8/26/2020] entry for the Burton House is: "The Burton House was a celebrated hotel located in Hurley, Wisconsin during the city's heyday as a mining and logging community. The building was erected by mining speculator, John E. Burton and opened its doors in September 1886. The hotel was an immaculate structure, with a four-story frame, containing 100 elaborately decorated rooms, dining room, café, clubrooms and a ballroom. One of the Burton Houses's most famous guests was president Grover Cleveland who registered at the hotel on October 5, 1889. After years of decline, the Burton House burned to the ground in 1948, as a result of an overheated stove in the first floor meeting room of the VFW."
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