Home WB&IR WNW Ashland Siskiwit & Iron River Cranberry Peerless

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 Road.

The American Lumberman of May 13, 1899, said:
    "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 interests here...
    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 railroads."

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.

"Wisconsin's Little Train that Couldn't" by Tim Sasse-BattleAx history available at Amazon.com

Copyright 2008 Kurt Larson--Last updated April 10, 2008