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New Mural Honors Rhinelander’s Industrial History

Photo by Katie Thoresen/WXPR

There’s a new mural in Rhinelander that gives people a snapshot of the city’s industrial history.

The artwork takes up the entire side of the Airpro building facing Sutliff Avenue across from the papermill.

“I love murals,” said Airpro and Fan Blower Company President and Founder Keith White.

Credit Photo by Katie Thoresen/WXPR

White loves murals so much, he put one on the side of his office off Davenport Street.

The background depicts well-known sites in Rhinelander like the courthouse and high school.

Gears are prominent in the foreground of the mural.

Each one depicts a piece of Rhinelander’s industrial history starting with F.W. Rhinelander in 1886 all the way up to 2002 with White and the Airpro design.

The mural features 24 families that helped make Rhinelander what it is today. White’s wife helped tracked down descendants of those families to bring them together for the mural unveiling.

“It’s such an honor. Cindy reached out to me on Facebook and I was blown away,” said Whittaker Dunn. He’s related to the Stevens family that played a large role in the logging industry. Dunn and his father traveled from Seattle, Washington for the unveiling.

I wanted to do something that would ultimately be something as a source of pride for the entire community

“Dunn Lumber has a lot of history in Seattle, but we also talk about originally the idea for the business came from Rhinelander, from the logging industry out here. So it’s such an honor to be out here,” said Dunn.

Craig Taylor and his sister Barbara also came back to Rhinelander for the unveiling. They grew up in Rhinelander but hadn’t been back in years. Their family owned the Coke Cola Plant in the city.

“Rhinelander for a long time kind of seemed to be a city that was being passed by and now it really seems thriving with new businesses that are being developed, the papermill surviving and doing well. That’s exciting. And the town looks, can I saw prosperous?” said Taylor.

Credit Photo by Katie Thoresen/WXPR

At the end of the timeline on the mural there’s blank gears over the davenport street bridge.

White hopes it inspires others to help the city grow.

“We’d love to see the names in the blank gears for the years to come. The whole symbolism of the bridge here. This is a bridge to what is to come. So we’re tracing what has happened. What has come and showing a bridge to the future,” said White.

White commissioned an artist out of Madison to bring his idea to life.

He hopes the art will inspire others to paint murals and create public art throughout the city.

“I wanted to do something that would ultimately be something as a source of pride for the entire community,” said White.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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