The origins of curling date back to the 16th century in Scotland, where the game was played on frozen lochs and ponds. Scottish immigrants brought the game with them to North America, where it quickly spread across the northern United States and Canada. Settlers began curling on the frozen Milwaukee River in the early 1840’s and officially formed the Milwaukee Curling Club (MCC) in 1845.
The modern game of curling evolved rapidly during the 1900’s, aided in large part by the move indoors through the use of refrigerated ice. MCC relocated to Riverside Park in 1915, where two covered sheets of ice provided a fixed home for the next 55 years. In 1970, the club built a four-sheet curling shed and clubhouse located at Ozaukee Country Club in Mequon, Wisconsin. The club moved into a new five-sheet facility at the Ozaukee County fairgrounds in Cedarburg, Wisconsin to begin the fall season in 2012.
Today, Milwaukee Curling Club is the oldest curling club in continual existence in the United States.
HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS (1843-2011)
1843-45 First curling in downtown Milwaukee on the Milwaukee River ice by Scottish settlers.
1846 Curlers elected James Murray, first permanent Scottish settler in Milwaukee (1835), as president. Currently the oldest existing curling club in the United States.
1850 First curling at Portage, second oldest existing Wisconsin and U.S. curling club.
1851 Milwaukee curling stones ruined by fire, causing a 3-year hiatus before reorganization in 1854.
1852 At a Scottish community celebration of Robert Burns birthday this late evening toast was offered: To the Milwaukee Curling Club: Short shoon and long corns to their foes.
1865 Club again reorganized and entered a period of high popularity among leading citizens. First Chicago/Milwaukee competition won by Milwaukee, as were most of these traditional annual competitions into the early 1900's.
1867 Formation of Grand National Curling Club of America as a national association, composed mainly of eastern clubs, but with Milwaukee and Chicago joining in first year (both shortly the largest clubs in U.S.).
1872-87 Milwaukee curlers won the Grand National Gordon Champion Rink Medal in 1872, 1873, 1881 and 1885; the Gordon International medal (against Canada) at Montreal on first play in 1884; and the Grand National Mitchell Championship Medal in 1886. Milwaukeeans John Johnston and William P. McLaren served as Grand National presidents in 1877-79 and 1883-85, respectively; and Alexander Mitchell (founder of Milwaukee's Marine bank and a curler from 1847) was Grand National Patron from 1885 until his death in 1887.
1892 Milwaukee curlers combined to settle on covered ice at the Warren Avenue (riding academy) rink house. After taking initiative in forming a new Northwestern Curling Association, Milwaukee withdrew from Grand National.
1905 Curlers lost possessions at the Warren Avenue rink house and were without a fixed home until 1915, though still engaged in sporadic interim club meetings and Chicago competitions.
1915 Beginning of a 55-year tenure at Riverside Park - two covered sheets in center of park.
1920-28 Relocated to a 3-sheet shed at south edge of park and addition of lean-to for a 4th sheet.
1938 Formal incorporation of club as non-profit Wisconsin corporation, incident to purchase and installation of air-cooling equipment (unsuccessful experiment).
1945 Installation of artificial ice, promptly after removal of W.W. II material priorities.
1948-49 Women's curling began at Milwaukee, followed shortly by mixed curling.
1951 First mixed bonspiel in the U.S. at Milwaukee. (Portage was one week later.)
1957 Addition of club lounge, the last major improvement at Riverside; occupancy agreement extended by park board to expire November 1, 1970.
1958 Milwaukee team of H. Fuldner(skip), R. Lorenz, R. Woberil and P. Nolte won the Wisconsin entry in U.S. Championship held in Milwaukee. United States Curling Association was formed.
1960 Initiation of long term planning on future club location; purchase of alternative River Hills land site.
1962 Joe Carson elected President of United States Curling Association.
1964 Milwaukee team of L. Brodd (skip), H. & K. Moebius and R. Schley won the Wisconsin entry in U.S. Championship.
1968 Fire by arson struck Riverside clubhouse and delayed season opening to late December.
1968-69 Long term location plans settled in favor of Ozaukee Country Club location; disposal of River Hills site.
1969 Relocation as continuing corporate entity at Ozaukee Country Club, with Curling Club paying all capital costs of curling addition under 30-year lease agreement.
1989 World Curling Championships held in Milwaukee at Mecca Auditorium.
1993 Glycol leak discovered. Members installed shale floor in curling shed.
1994 Celebrated sesquicentennial anniversary with party at Hyatt Hotel in Milwaukee.
1997 Renegotiated lease with Ozaukee Country Club for 10 additional years.
1998 Massive floods in July damaged club house and discovery of structural damage delayed curling until December.
2003 Received notification that the lease with Ozaukee Country Club would not be renewed in 2007.
2004 Milwaukee Curling Association was founded in 2004 for the purpose of promoting the sport of curling.
2004-10 Explored various new locations and partnerships.
2011 Ozaukee County approves 50-year lease with Milwaukee Curling Association.
2012 Construction began in February for the new five-sheet facility on the Ozaukee Country Fairgrounss in Cedarburg, Wisconsin (about 17 miles north of Milwaukee). First season of curling started in October.