The Miller Caves were hand dug into the side of a bluff, 60 feet below the hilltop, which runs along the south side of State Street, in 1850 by the Best Brothers. The Best Brothers owned the Plank Road Brewery on the site at that time.
Fredrick Miller started his own brewery in 1855 and bought the Plank Road Brewery from Charles and Lorenz Best, the caves were a part of the purchase.
The caves were where they kept the beer cold before modern refrigeration was invented. They would cut large blocks of ice from local lakes and rivers. Most commonly Pewaukee Lake was the source for the ice. They would bring it in by horse and wagon and would line the walls of the caves and cover it with sawdust and hay. Then they would bring all the wooden barrels of beer in to keep it cold through the summer months.
Originally there were five caves in total. The smallest is 20 feet long and about 8 feet high and the largest is about 80 feet long and 20 feet high. The largest cave is still intact and is now a part of a tour the MillerCoors Company offers to the public but all the other caves have been permanently sealed off, although you can still see entrances to at least three of them.
The caves’ role as beer storage ended in 1906 so they fell into disuse until they were reopened in the 1950’s as a museum.
The Miller Inn was built in 1892 four years after Frederick Miller died and was used as a tavern. It was built in a Bavarian castle style and remains that way today. After years of operation it was then leased to a series of private tavern keepers. A bowling alley and outdoor beer garden were features of the place when it was privately operated. The second floor of the Inn was used during this time as living quarters for the tavern keepers.
In 1950 Miller resumed operation of the Inn to provide hospitality rooms for the growing amount of visitors who were being attracted to the brewery as a result of its tremendous expansion program.
Through the years the castle like exterior has remained the same but the inside now boasts many beautiful banquet halls and of course a tavern. Stein Hall is on the 1st Floor and is where the bowling alley was once located. On the 2nd Floor is the High Life Room and the Champagne Room along with a Kitchen.
- The ghosts of two 19th century lovers supposedly haunt the Miller Caves. The lovers are said to be a young brewery worker and his sweetheart who would meet at the mouth of the caves near the back of the brewery. Every Saturday night without fail the lovers would meet until one night, without warning, the young man fell on a stairway in one of the caves and hit his head and never regained consciousness. The young lady waited for hours for her lover to come to their meeting spot but she was oblivious to his accident and left brokenhearted. After learning of her lover’s death it is said that she died of a broken heart weeks later
- The apparition of a young lady was seen lingering at the mouth of the cave and the Miller Inn
- Mason workers, working in the caves, reported hearing disembodied speech and laughter among the cracks
- Mysterious footsteps have been heard by employees after hours in both the Caves and the Miller Inn
- Employees report the feeling of being watched on the 2nd Floor of the Miller Inn
- A night guard reported that he called over the radio that he was chasing a “tall person dressed in all black” down the hallway on the 2nd Floor towards the Kitchen. The “tall person” went out the back door. No one saw a person go through the back door but the door was left open. The guard reports that you would have to walk down many stairs when you leave out the back door or you’ll fall a good ten feet if you tried to jump. Even if a person did jump a person would be trapped in a fifteen foot iron gated fence area in front of the entrance
- The piano in the Miller High Life Room was heard playing by itself one evening
- The phones between the Miller High Life Room and the Champagne Room have rang without anyone being on the other end