Taylor County

1.)Stanley Merrill & Phillips Railroad.

Called the "Slow Motion & Poverty", this line was owned by the Northwestern Lumber Company of Stanley. It was incorporated on Aug 21, 1893 and initially constructed a line south from Lombard in Clark Co. (see Clark Co page) This line was operated jointly with the John S. Owen Lbr Co. Construction began, on what was to become the main line, northeast from Stanley in 1895. In 1901 the SM&P was operating between Stanley and Bellinger in the southwestern part of Taylor County. At the time many logs were being hauled for the Chippewa Lumber & Boom Co of Chippewa Falls as well as for the Northwestern Lbr Co. In 1902 the main line was extended north to Gilman and a junction with the WC. Further extensions occured in 1903 to Hannibal where the main crossed a CSPM&O branchline, in 1904 north to Jump River, and in 1905 to Walrath in Rusk County. Because no wye or turntable existed at Walrath, trains had to back from Jump River to the northern terminal. The SM&P was aiming to build further north to Glen Flora, but never made it that far. Northwestern Lumber had several logging branches off of the main line at Gilman,Jump River, and in southern Rusk County. Trackage rights were obtained on the CSPM&O branch between Hannibal and Hughey. A significant branch also ran northeast from Bellinger through Lublin to Diamond Lake. It was constructed about 1904. After 1906 a portion of it was operated by the John S. Owen Lumber Company. In 1909 the SM&P purchased a Fairbanks-Morse Railbus to provide passenger service on its line. This lasted until Sept 18, 1911 when the bus burned up on the main line north of Stanley. Outside of this, the SM&P provided mixed service to the small communities along its tracks. Northwestern Lumber Company finished its cut in 1922, and the SM&P ran its last trains in the fall of 1923. The following year, the portion of the line between Stanley and Gilman was abandoned. The remainder, between Gilman and Walrath, was leased to the SOO Line for 10 years beginning on Apr 16,1923. (The SOO also purchased the SM&P's terminal facilities at Stanley.) The purpose of this was to allow John S. Owen Lumber Company to access large tracts of timber it owned in southeastern Rusk County. Owen was done cutting in July of 1929. The SOO filed for abandonment of the SM&P in May of 1931, but the ICC denied the abandonment and forced the SOO to operate it until the end of the lease in 1933. The remainder of the line was then abandoned.

2.)John S. Owen Lumber Company.

This company, in 1904, incorporated the Owen & Northern Railroad to build a line between Owen and Ladysmith for the Wisconsin Central Railroad. The O&N graded the right of way and laid 7 miles of track from Owen to Lublin in 1905. Owen sold the right of way and track to the WC on June 11 of 1906. J.S. Owen log trains had trackage rights over the entire distance from Owen to Ladysmith in order to reach various blocks of timber in Rusk and Taylor Counties. In Taylor County there was a spur running west off of the WC main about 2 miles northwest of Gilman, and another at Lublin which utilized a portion of the former SM&P Diamond Lake branch. This spur was rather large running into the south central portion of the county. (see Rusk and Clark County pages for more info)

3.)Medford Lumber Company.

Operations on this line began in 1906. It ran westerly from Medford into what is today the Chequamegon National Forest. It came close to connecting with the west end of the CSPM&O Hughey branch. Operations were terminated in 1926. Medford Lumber Co was a subsidiary of the U.S. Leather Company.

4.)Westboro Lumber Company.

This line was constructed in a westerly direction from Westboro in 1900 by the Blackwell & Webb Lumber Company. It was referred to as the "Westboro and Northwestern". A few years later the line was sold to the Westboro Lumber Company. This line also penetrated into the future Chequamegon National Forest. Operations ended in 1921. Westboro Lbr Co's mill ws located east of the WC main. The WC, not wanting its tracks crossed by a logging railroad, forced the lumber company to build an underpass of its main at Westboro.

5.)Upham Manufacturing Company.

This company was based in Marshfield and operated several lines in Wood,Clark, Taylor,and Marathon Counties. (see each respective page) Its operations in Taylor County consisted of a line running north from Athens until it reached Goodrich in the far southeastern portion of the county. This line was sold to the Copper River Land Co. in 1906. In 1907 the Wisconsin Railroad Commission forced the WC to operate this line as a common carrier railroad. It was abandoned by the SOO in 1931.

6.)Rib Lake Lumber Company.

Rib Lake has the distinction of being Wisconsin's last "true" logging railroad. Operations were begun in 1897 by the J.J. Kennedy Lumber Company running about 2 miles northwest from Rib Lake. This was unsuccessful as Kennedy quit using rail within a year. Kennedy had borrowed a 4-4-0 locomotive named the "Nancy Hanks" from the WC. Rail operations were resumed in 1901 by Kennedy successor, the W.A. Osburn Lumber Company. For Osburn, the WC constructed a line running northeast from Rib Lake to a connection with the Marinette Tomahawk & Western at Spirit Falls in northwestern Lincoln County. There was much controversy before the Wisconsin Railroad Commission concerning the common carrier status of this line. The WC, and the lumber companies said that it was constructed as a private logging railroad and should be operated as such. Local residents disagreed and demanded service. In 1904, the WC line was out of service beyond Rib Lake, but local residents would not let it rest. In 1909 the Commission forced the WC to operate common carrier service. This decision was appealed by the WC and thrown out in Dane County Circuit Court. Again in 1912, local residents came before the Railroad Commission demanding common carrier service. In 1911 the Raymond Lbr Co of Tomahawk began operating log trains on this line again. They only operated on the four most easterly miles out of Spirit Falls. They performed common carrier service on the portion of the line that they operated. This satisfied the Railroad Commission and the second complaint was dropped. Raymond Lbr discontinued operations in 1913, and the entire line beteeen Rib Lake and Spirit Falls was removed at this time. In 1902 the W. A. Osburn Lumber Company became known as the Rib Lake Lumber Company. Rib Lake's first logging operations were on the line owned by the Copper River Land Co. that ran north from Athens. (See Upham Mfg. entry above)The Copper River Land Co., Rib Lake Lumber Co., and Medford Lumber Co. were all owned by the U.S. Leather Co. (US Leather held the Rib Lake Lbr Co until 1936.) In about 1903 Rib Lake built a rail line from its namesake village, east into the Lincoln County. The eastern third of Lincoln Co. was extensively logged by Rib Lake, as lines extended south to the Marathon County line and north to the Spirit Falls area. For a time, Rib Lake operated the WC's branch from Chelsea to Rib Lake. They were obligated to provide common carrier service on that section of track. Rib Lake's logging operations continued up until Feb 2,1948. The company lasted long enough to have bulldozers and other modern machinery for grading. Like many western logging railroads, Rib Lake had 3 tank cars for water to fight forest fires. Rib Lake was also the only known company in the state that during its period of operation ran a Lima, a Climax, and a Heisler Locomotive.




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