Bikernet Blog Search Bikernet
Ride Forever - Bikernet.com
Friday Edition


Building the H-D Juneau Plant

From Woodshed to Red-brick Behemoth in Ten Short Years

By Mitch Boehm, Thunder Press, Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson
1/12/2020


Share this story:

Harley-Davidson’s Juneau Ave. headquarters nearing completion on November 29, 1912. Them horses look hungry to us.
Harley-Davidson’s Juneau Ave. headquarters nearing completion on November 29, 1912. Them horses look hungry to us.



We’ve all heard the stories of how Harley-Davidson began life in 1903 in a Milwaukee woodshed on the site of what is now the headquarters of Miller Brewing Company. But with motorcycle production set to jump from around 1000 units in 1909 to nearly 30,000 by 1920, the Motor Company’s industrial digs had to change, and in a big way.

Workers fabricating fuel tanks – by hand, of course – at the Juneau factory, circa 1915.
Workers fabricating fuel tanks – by hand, of course – at the Juneau factory, circa 1915.



Excavation work and a makeshift bridge for the factory addition at 37th and Juneau, circa 1912.
Excavation work and a makeshift bridge for the factory addition at 37th and Juneau, circa 1912.



That ‘big way’ ended up being the legendary Juneau Avenue headquarters, which stands proudly today as a testament to Harley’s history and industrial fortitude over the last 117 years. Actual motorcycle production ceased at the site back in 1973, but the Juneau Ave. headquarters remains the nerve center of the company to this day.

A 10,000-gallon engine-oil tank being moved into the factory receiving yard, circa 1912.
A 10,000-gallon engine-oil tank being moved into the factory receiving yard, circa 1912.



Female employees assembling roller bearings prior to engine assembly, circa 1919.
Female employees assembling roller bearings prior to engine assembly, circa 1919.



A recently discovered cache of photographs and architectural drawings – including plans for the original Juneau Ave. facility – are part of a gotta-see exhibit called ‘Building a Milwaukee Icon’ that opened earlier this month at the Harley-Davison Museum. Since getting there might present a bit of a challenge to most of you, we wanted to share a few of the fascinating photos from the exhibit to give you a feel for what was happening on the ground 110 years ago at the corner of Juneau Ave. and 37th Street. Enjoy!

Ground plans from 1910 showing sewer, gas and water lines for the Juneau Ave. complex.
Ground plans from 1910 showing sewer, gas and water lines for the Juneau Ave. complex.



First-floor and elevation plan for the addition to the main manufacturing building.
First-floor and elevation plan for the addition to the main manufacturing building.



A walk through the Harley-Davidson Museum is a walk through the history of America. With an unrivaled collection of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and memorabilia, a 20-acre, park-like campus, and a calendar full of activities, the H-D Museum is one of Milwaukee’s top tourist destinations for visitors from around the globe. A visit to the H-D Museum is an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. Make your plans to visit the Harley-Davidson Museum at H-DMuseum.com.


Share this story:



Back to In History, Special Reports




Reader Comments


One of the best things I have ever done was this past summer. I went to the Harley-Davidson Museum, in Milwaukee.. Words can not describe it. I loved the history, all the old paper work, the pristine antique bikes One of my favorite displays was a wall with a tank display. I remembered a lot of those tanks.. I went three days in a row! Hope to go again one day.

mike pullin
charlotte, nc
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Editor Response I hope you took notes...
--Bandit

Your thoughts on this article

Your Name
Email
City
Country
v
State/Province
v
Comments
Anti-Spam Question:
Please enter the words you see in the box, in order and separated by a space. Doing so helps prevent automated programs from abusing this service.
Submit
Clear