The fabled Hallie Lab

By Jimbo Sept 2004,

When Seymour Cray started Cray Research in 1972 he chose a location on the outskirts of Chippewa Falls between the townships of Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire. This area was actually part of the township of Hallie, which was still in Chippewa county. Hence it was always referred to as the "Hallie lab". The building was constructed for Cray Research and this is where the development and construction of Cray-1, "serial 1", took place. The system was shipped from here to Los Alamos on March 4 1976.

The story goes that when Cray Research was started up the consensus of opinion was that there was a market for about 10 of these machines. For such a small quantity of hand built systems only a small facility was needed. Once the demand for Cray-1 systems started to rise it was necessary to construct new production facilities closer to the local work force. Cray Research then commenced building facilities in and around the town of Chippewa Falls.

Not many people worked for Cray Research at the Hallie lab, the greater majority came to Cray Research after it had established itself in Chippewa falls. When I started with Cray in 1989 I had heard about the Hallie labs and so did many at Cray Research, but no one seem to know exactly where it was. Eventually I found an "old timer" that had worked at the labs in those early years soldering components on to circuit boards for serial 1. Oddly enough this person said that they would have to draw me a map, as that would be the only way I would find it. Hallie labs was situated on Data Drive and apparently many a delivery driver stopped in at some farm house asking directions to the building!!! The story also went that any gentlemen who sounded of Russian origin asking directions to the Hallie lab were not received too kindly by these same locals!

So ..armed with my map I headed out to find the Hallie Labs. After driving through miles of corn fields I came to "Data Drive" which is recognizable by a single row of trees growing down one side. Data drive is a dead end street, but before you reach the end there is a driveway on your left which appears to snake into a small forest of trees. The driveway had no sign or any identification at all. The road had a few sharp bends in it so that the building is not visible from the road.

The building itself is nothing special. Its just the history associated with the place that makes it special. The loading dock where serial 1 was loaded onto a truck on a snowy day in 1976 is still there. See this mention and photo in Cray chips 1987

By the 1990's The Hallie lab was largely used for storage. Some time after Silicon Graphics acquired Cray Research the Hallie lab were sold off. The building still remains today hidden behind the snaking driveway and is now occupied by a graphics company.

In 2003 I found to my surprise that the township of Hallie was expanding into this once secluded area where Cray Research had set up its first building. Even more surprising was that "Data Drive" has been renamed along with several other streets. It was now called "43rd Avenue". The end of the road that use to be a dead end has been extended quite a way with houses now lining it.

If you are in Chippewa Falls and want to see this historic building then follow these directions and consult the photos to confirm your path.

1) Head south down the 124 from Chippewa Falls.
2) Turn right into 40th Avenue (use to be called Pederson Road) after the "Hallie Park" sign.
3) Follow the road
4) Turn right into 110th street (use to be called Shafer Road).
5) Drive a short way and turn left into 43rd avenue. 43rd Avenue is the new name of Data Drive.
6) About 100 metres (approx 100 yards) down the road on the left is the driveway.
The road has now been extended, but the driveway is to the left just past where the new lighter coloured asphalt.
7) The famous Hallie Lab. Now used by "Tempo Graphics".
The tractor is parked in the loading dock area where serial 1 is seen being loaded in the 1976 picture.

Well ... wouldn't you know it, after writing up directions on how to get to Hallie lab I stumbled across a map that shows "Data Drive"!!!

This map came off of an old Cray Facilities map and it still shows "Pederson road",
"Shafer road" and "Data Drive" which have now been renamed "40th ave", "110th
street" and "43rd ave" respectively.

June 2000 V1.0.5
Copyright (c) 1999 by "Fred Gannett", all rights reserved.
This FAQ may not be included in commercial collections or compilations without express permission from the author.

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