Brass ball coming down from its namesake intersection

The current brass ball at the Highway 50 and Highway 83/75 intersection. /westofthei.com file photo

An upcoming upgrade of traffic signals and other aspects of the Highway 50 and Highways 83/75 intersection in Paddock Lake will lead to a new home for the iconic brass ball that hangs over the intersection.

A brass ball of some sort has hung over the intersection — known as Brass Ball Corners — as a landmark since at least the 1930s. A brass ball — though not always actually brass — was displayed at the intersection as a landmark and navigation aid as early as the 1840s.

At Wednesday’s Paddock Lake Village Board committee of the whole meeting, officials discussed where else the landmark could be displayed once it is removed from its perch over the intersection due to concerns from We Energies and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

The leading candidate appeared to be near the historical marker on the southeast corner that explains the history of Brass Ball Corners.

President Terry Burns said Wednesday WisDOT is installing new monopod signals as part of a renovation of the intersection planned for 2022. The brass ball is judged to be in the sight line of the new lights. We Energies also will have to re-configure utilities at the intersection and says the ball will no longer be supported.

Burns outlined a few options for displaying the ball after it is taken down, but ultimately said he favored keeping it somewhere near the historic marker at the intersection, which says the ball is displayed nearby.

“I think it needs to indeed hang nearby,” Burns said.

The board members who expressed an opinion agreed with Burns.

Village administrator Tim Popanda estimated the cost of creating a new display at about $2,800.

“We will try to keep the expense as minimal as possible,” Burns said. “We still want people to be proud of that display there.”

An earlier brass ball — a former mine buoy — is displayed at Village Hall. At some point that ball was judged as being too heavy to display safely over the intersection.

The historic marker at the southeast corner of the Highway 50 and Highway 83/75 intersection. Village of Paddock Lake photo
The brass ball that is displayed at Village Hall. The origin of the dents is not known for sure. Some feel they might be from bullets fired at the ball when it was performing its first duty as a mine buoy. Other think they were made when local folks took a few shots at the landmark as a lark. /westofthei.com file photo

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