Washburn claimed five railroads, however only
three were within the city limits, the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha,
the Washburn, Bayfield & Iron River, and the Washburn and Northwestern. The
CSt.P&O was the catalyst for the cities existence. The WB&IR was a county bonded
railroad that soon was taken over by the Northern Pacific, and the W&NW was the
logging railroad of the A. A. Bigelow Lumber Company. Two other logging
railroads played a part of Washburn's early history. One was Brown & Robbins
which was at the Sioux River and the other was the Ashland, Siskiwit & Iron
River located at Nash, which was at the bottom of the present day Ondossagon
The American Lumberman of May 13, 1899,
"The Chequamegon Bay lumbering district enjoys the
distinction of having the greatest system of logging railroads in the country.
There are five now in operation, the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Ashland, the
Washburn, Bayfield & Iron River, the Ashland, Siskiwit & Iron River, the Bigelow
Road and the Bayfield Harbor & Great Western. The Rittenhouse & Embree Road
(Brown & Robbins kl) is now being graded and iron will soon be laid. The
terminus of each one of the roads is Chequamegon Bay and it can very well be
seen how much they add to the importance and perpetuity of the lumbering
In addition to these six logging railroads there are of course the four
regular roads, the Northern Pacific, the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha,
the Wisconsin Central and the Chicago & Northwestern, which haul many million
feet of logs to Ashland every year.
With this great system of railroads, making almost a network of iron through
some of the best timber in the northwest, it can be said that the Chequamegon
Bay mills occupy a very enviable position as far as the timber which has become
tributary to them is concerned. No other lumber district has such a system of
Of these railroads, only the Wisconsin Central
probably never hauled logs that were used in the Washburn mills.
Now, only the ghosts remain. Grades that seem to
wander to nowhere, country roads that seem extraordinarily straight, magnificent
snowmobile trails, a dogsled race and road called the Battle Ax.