The residents of Stevens Point depended on the Wisconsin River not only to transport logs, but also to provide clam shells for the button industry. The clammers found an abundance of quality shells in the river to support a commercial venture. In 1920, a factory at the foot of Franklin Street opened to stamp out circular button "blanks" from the pearly surface inside the shell. The remaining shell looked similar to a batch of dough from which cookies have been cut.
Clams were picked by hand where the water was shallow enough to wade. In deeper water, clammers used flat bottomed "johnboats," with bars on either side. Attached to the bars were "crowfeet," small hooks resembling bird's feet dangling from several chains. The hooks dragged across the river bottom until they hit the open mussel. Then the clam snapped its shell shut over the hooks, the bars were raised and clams removed.
Live clams were steamed in long metal bottomed, wood-sided troughs to expose the meat. Once the clams opened up, the meat was easily removed and discarded. The clams were also examined for pearls. The steaming and cleaning of the shells was done on Second Island - now underwater - located west of Bukolt Park.