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Your Gateway to Cheese Country

National Historic Cheesemaking Center -- Cheese Images

The Cheese-making Gallery

The gallery below is comprised of photographs and other artwork related to the history of cheese making in the Green County area. Additionally there are some photos of various museum exhibits. This is just a small sampling of what you'll find when you visit the National Historic Cheesemaking Center in Monroe, WI.

Three key figures in the formation of the cheese industry in Wisconsin.    Historic Cheesemakers

This picture is of the three outstanding individuals who were key figures in the formation of the cheese industry of the Green County area. Nickolas Gerber (in the center) came to Green County from New York state and started the first commercial cheese factories, where a few farmers hauled their milk, which was made into cheese. Nickolas Gerber started the first limburger factory in the state at a farm approximately 4 miles southwest of New Glarus and the first Swiss factory in Wisconsin, located between Monticello and New Glarus. Regez and Karlen began opening factories and controlling others by committing to the purchase farmer's milk and sale of cheese produced. Karlen has been recognized by the Wisconsin Historical Society.

 
Stirring the Kettle a painting by Ernest Jaeggi.    Making Cheese

Cheese-maker stirring a kettle of milk during the manufacture of a wheel of Swiss cheese. This is from his memory of a scene in the mountains of Switzerland, where he was a young man and worked in a mountain factory such as that shown.
 
Small equipment used in the making of Swiss cheese.    Tools of the Trade (From left to right)

1.
Stirrer to keep curd particle from hoop. 2. Adjustable wooden hoop in which the ball of curd is placed to form the wheel of cheese. 3. Caliper to measure for making lid of Swiss cheese shipping tub. 4. Wooden scoop used to remove whey and curd from bottom of kettle. 5. Cheese trier is used to pull sample from cheese to determine grade. 6. The Spoon is used to tap wheel on press to determine if whey pockets are present or to scrape curd that has protruded through the cheese press cloths. 7. Saable is used to place under wheel removing much of wheel from surface for handling. 8. Swiss harp is needed for cutting congealing mass of curd to very small particles.

 
Dipping cheese from kettle using a weighted T.    The Weighted T

The cheesemaker seen here is dipping cheese from the kettle using weighted T. This supported him from falling into the tub. When manipulating the net to extract the cheese curd from the tub, both hands had to be used (besides using one's teeth to help hold the bottom of the netting). It is said that if a cheesemaker didn't have a T, an apprentice would hold the cheesemaker to prevent falling into the tub. Sometimes the apprentice slipped, resulting in a slightly more than unhappy cheesemaker!
 
The cheese tub in which 4 or 5 wheels are placed for shipment.    The Cheese Tub

A tub in which 4 or 5 cheese wheels are placed for shipment. Weight can vary from 550 to 1300 pounds. This was made by the cheesemaker after making the ends by hand.
 
THE CHEESE CELLAR--Artwork by Carl Marty    The Cheese Cellar
Artwork by Carl Marty

The huge wheels of Swiss having had patient daily care, constant salting and turning, are now left to age and mature for that special nut-sweet flavor.
 
Swiss Cheesemaking Class of 1920.    1920 Cheesemakers

Swiss cheesemaking class of 1920, second session (by UW Extension).
 
Cheesemaking Tools.    More Tools of the Trade

A skid used to haul cheese from factory to warehouse. Also shown is a wheel of Swiss lids that were placed under the wheel at bottom. A longhorn hoop for American cheese and midget hoop for American cheese. In the foreground is a weighted T to hold cheesemakers legs or heels when dipping cheese from kettle.
 
Swiss cheesemaker cutting the curd with his Swiss Harp.    Cutting the Curd

A picture of a Swiss cheesemaker cutting the curd with his Swiss harp.
 
Sealing the deal a painting by Carl Marty.    Sealing the Deal
Artwork by Carl Marty.

This piece shows the cheesemaker and cheese buyer coming to agreement, for a month of cheese between cheesemaker and cheese dealer, while the hired man, working hard, waits for them to get out so he can get a swig of home-made Wild grape wine, the old standby of pioneer times. Notice the gallon of wine drawn from the wine barrel, along with the shelf of home-canned fruit and vegetables, and the cut wheel of cheese (to sell small portions of cheese back to farmers). Note also the helper (hired man) washing the cheese while the buyer is being bribed by the glass of wine, most likely very potent, by today's standards. This was a ritual that could not be taken lightly. Also notice the use of tobacco, which was common in days past.

 
THE CHEESE KETTLE -- painting by Carl Marty.    The Cheese Kettle
Artwork by Carl Marty.

The cheesemaker's wife helps separate newly made cheese aprox. 200 lbs. from the kettle and another golden wheel of Swiss is born.
 
Cheesemaker and family.    Cheesemaker and Family

A cheesemaker and his family standing by their cheese factory circa 1900-1910. This man was an exceptional individual. He later became a cheese buyer, factory owner, and pioneer in cheesemaking in Idaho. In addition, he became the manager of Monroe's Turner Hall when it was rebuilt.
 
Johnson Factory, located a few miles northwest of South Wayne, Wisconsin.    An Early Wisconsin Cheese Factory

A picture of farmers at the cheese factory with their milk wagons. Note in the background is what appears to be a small gridiron on a post. This held wires that ran from the cheese factory to the farm immediately to the left of the picture on which the milk cans were carried from the milk house to the factory. On the cable is a 30 gallon milk can, being sent to the factory. This is photo of the Johnson Factory, located a few miles northwest of South Wayne, Wisconsin. and was submitted by Ervin Johnson.
 
National Historic Cheesemaking Center Logo    Visit the National Historic Cheesemaking Center in Monroe, Wisconsin

Discover the amazing history of cheese-making from the Old World to the New World and the rich heritage that still exists here in Green County, Wisconsin. You'll find these and a great many other exhibits, and archived materials for you to peruse and enjoy.