Washburn Logging and Lumbering


Sawmills Railroads Guest Book  Brownstone The Window


Itís the summer of 1883 and you have just come to the new town of Washburn from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Arriving by rail on the Omaha Railroad, you have heard there is work building a new dock for the railroad and other work should follow.  George Anderson is your boss and tells you that you can go directly to work and will be staying in a tent for a short period of time until better accommodations can be made. The town site of about 40 acres is nothing but stumps with the exception of one little building of 20 x 36 feet. This is the Pioneer Store and you and 100 of your co-workers will spend all your free time here for the next few weeks. By fall you have rented a room at the Swain House, quit working on the dock, and taken a job with Hay & Stratton clearing more of the town site.  Buildings are going up everywhere, but the town is still an island in the great pine forest.


This of course wonít last long. Irish & Hulbert have a small mill and on January 10th they start building a huge sawmill on the waterfront for S. G. Cook & Company. Soon, huge rafts are arriving at the new Cook mill and many others can be seen in the bay heading for Ashland. By the end of 1886 three huge mills take up the entire waterfront of the West End of Washburn. Great gaps in the forest have opened up and now a railroad is being built into the interior to facilitate the removal of forests that because of the lack of rivers could not feasibly be cut before. Within a few more years not a tree can be seen. Racing through the slashing left by loggers, huge forest fires burn what is left. Within twenty years of the cityís founding, most of the pine is gone. The mills remain on for a while, cutting Michigan and Minnesota pine that comes in great rafts of a million feet or more, but the end is in site.


Of course by now you have a fine house built by your own hands out of the lumber you carried home from the mill every night. You are one of the lucky ones who were employed by the Kenfield & Lamoreaux Box Factory when the mills began to close. Lumber was your life and you retire and live long enough to see your children and grandchildren work through two world wars at the giant DuPont Company south of town.


Hopefully this site will help one to understand the great logging industry that existed in Washburn and Northern Bayfield County.




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