Rhinelander chamber celebrates 80 years of service

September 26, 2016

Kayla Breese

The Northwoods River News

The Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce staff took some time Wednesday to recognize a milestone, the organization's 80th birthday.

Bill Clow, executive director, said the date for the anniversary is "a little bit of a nebulous" due to the fact that there are several old documents that go back to 1898.

"We started finding some of these old documents," he said excitedly, holding a slightly yellowed deed. "This is actually the document that gave us Sept. 21 and this is a deed that certifies the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce, and actually there are about three dates on here. We went with the date that we paid it off and it was official."

That date was Sept. 21, 1936. Clow and the rest of the staff were happy to have found the papers and to have an official date they can commemorate.

"It's kind of fun to put a flag down and say 'this is our birthday' and now we will establish a date and treat it as such," he said, as business leaders and other members of the community enjoyed birthday cake.

Clow said he enjoyed digging through the history and found several interesting things, such as a deed from 1898 where the chamber paid $1,000 for two blocks of city property, presumably to put in a headquarters.

"It was the Rhinelander Advancement Association - which, (in) my understanding, (was) the precursor to the chamber," he said.

He also came across visitor guides from way back and noted the longevity of several businesses.

"If you look at these old visitor guides you'll see some of the same businesses in the 2017 guide, which is kind of fun," he said.

"What we're really trying to do is celebrate our past, the city's past, the past of businesses and one of the fun things that has happened in the course of doing this is we've come across a lot of documents and I've had the opportunity in the last couple days to share some documents with some businesses," he added. "I'm a big believer in celebrations, first of all, and I'm also a big believer in recognizing where you come from. We are very forward-focused but some of your success of moving forward is knowing where you come from."

Kayla Breese may be reached at

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