Vilas County

1.)Turtle Lake Lumber Company.

This company began operations out of Winchester in June of 1909. This company's rail lines fanned out in all directions reaching north into Gogebic County Mich., east to Harris and Birch Lakes, and as far south as Circle Lily Lake. The C&NW provided rail to the company for construction of these lines. Operations ended in late 1926.

2.)Buswell Lumber & Manufacturing Company.

Company operations were based out of a village called Buswell, which was located on Papoose Lake, on the end of a Milwaukee branch that stretched west from Boulder Junction. Operations began in 1905 and ended in 1910 when the Buswell mill burned. The Milwaukee Road line from Boulder Jct. to Buswell remained in operation until 1919 serving various other logging interests.

3.)Flambeau Lumber Company.

This company owned several spurs off of the C&NW Ashland Division main. It was contracted by the federal government to log off the Lac Du Flambeau Indian Reservation, although the company had timber located off of the reservation as well. The mill was at Lac Du Flambeau which was connected by a spur to the C&NW main. (constructed in 1894) The C&NW had a job based in Lac Du Flambeau that hauled logs south from the O'Day and Daley operations at Mercer (see Iron County page) to the Flambeau mill. This job was refered to as the Lac Du Flambeau log job. Two large spurs branched off the C&NW main near the Vilas-Iron County line. One ran north through the Powell Marsh area to Little Star Lake, and the other ran south almost to the north shore of Flambeau Lake. Another large spur branched off the main about 2 miles east of Lac Du Flambeau and ran into the northeast corner of the reservation. There were several small lines in the reservation's southeast corner. Operations were carried out between July of 1900 and October 5, 1913 when the mill shut down. The Flambeau Lbr Co was owned by J. S. Stearns who also owned the Ashland Odanah & Marengo Railroad in Ashland Co, which logged off the Bad River Indian Reservation. Stearns must have had some good political connections in the federal government to get exclusive contracts to log off both reservations. It is very unlikely that the Indians who resided on the reservations got anything out of the deal outside of some temporary employment.

4.)Bonifas-Gorman Lumber Company.

This line began in 1905 as the Vilas County Lumber Company Railroad. The mill was located in the village of Fosterville, which later changed its name to Winegar, and is today known as Presque Isle. Vilas County Lumber initially built southeast into the Oxbow Lake area, and also had a spur off of the C&NW Winegar branch that ran along Presque Isle Lake. Vilas County Lumber then located its operations in Gogebic County Michigan, and almost all subsequent track construction was in this county. Like the Turtle Lake Lumber Company, the C&NW provided all the rail and track construction material. In 1925 Vilas County Lumber became the Wm Bonifas Lumber Company. On Jan 1,1929 this in turn became the Bonifas-Gorman Lumber Company. Railroad operations continued up until 1934.

5.)Brooks & Ross Lumber Company.

In 1908 the Milwaukee Road constructed a branch north from Boulder Junction to Bluebill about four miles across the border into Gogebic County Michigan. The Wisconsin portion of this line was constructed to serve timber lands owned by the Brooks & Ross Lumber Company of Schofield Wi. (See Goodyear Lumber Company for info on operations of the Michigan portion of the line.) Beginning in 1912 the Milwaukee constructed several spurs that had names such as "Wild Cat Spur","Wolf Lake Spur", and "Fishtrap Lake Spur". Brooks & Ross purchased a new Mogul in 1907 and likely used it in this area to put together trains for the Milwaukee. In 1926 the Milwaukee abandoned the portion of its branch north of Wild Cat Spur, the remainder going in 1928.

6.)Chippewa Lumber & Boom Company.

In 1903 the Milwaukee Road constructed a line between Star Lake and Boulder Junction to serve land in the Boulder Junction area owned by CL&B. CL&B's headquarters camp is today the present village of Boulder Jct. Within a few months of the branchline's construction CL&B sold its entire holdings in the area to the Yawkey-Bissell Lbr Co. The branch was operated as a common carrier by the Milwaukee and served many other lumber companies as well. The portion of the line between Alva Jct. (a few miles west of Star Lake) and Cutler Junction was abandoned by the Milwaukee in 1914 after they purchased the Trout Lake Railroad from Yawkey-Bissell that ran directly from Arbor Vitae north to Cutler Junction. This gave them a much shorter route to Boulder Junction.

7.)Yawkey-Bissell Lumber Company.

Yawkey-Bissell had extensive operations in the county that initially were tied to its mill at Hazelhurst located in Oneida County. In 1908 Y-B bought the mill and the railroad of the John Ross Lbr Co at Arbor Vitae giving them two mills in the area. Ross operation, called the Arbor Vitae Logging RR, began in 1893 and extended northeast from Arbor Vitae into the Lost Lake area. The land that Ross logged was owned by the Land Log & Lumber Co of Milwaukee. Ross logged and milled their holdings for a portion of the finished product. In 1903 Yawkey Bissell began construction on what was called the Trout Lake Railroad. It ran north from Arbor Vitae, along the eastern shore of Trout Lake, to about one mile south of a place called Cutler Jct on the Milwaukee line from Star Lake to Boulder Jct. The Milwaukee constructed about a mile of track to connect the Trout Lake RR to its Star Lake-Boulder Jct line in about 1905. In 1903 Y-B purchased the holdings of the Chippewa Lbr & Boom Company in the Boulder Jct. area. Yawkey-Bissell's trains made extensive use of the Milwaukee's lines in the area. They used the Milwaukee's Wisconsin Valley main to connect the Trout Lake with the mill at Hazelhurst. (Officially part of the Hazelhurst & Southeastern RR-see Oneida County page) They made use of the branch line from Buswell to Boulder Jct. in order to reach a large block of timber west of Papoose Lake. They also used the Milwaukee line from Boulder Jct. to Alva Jct. (A few miles west of Star Lake) Their agreement with the Milwaukee, signed March 31,1905 allowed them to operate trains on the Milwaukee's lines as long as the Y-B engineer,fireman, and brakemen passed a Milwaukee rules test. Y-B also had to cover a portion of the track maintainance on the lines that they used. The Trout Lake Railroad was sold to the Milwaukee Road on Aug. 29,1913 for $10,000. This gave the Milwaukee a shortcut from Arbor Vitae to Boulder Junction and allowed it to abandon most of its line between Cutler Jct and Star Lake (see Chippewa Lumber & Boom Co for history of this line.) At the peak of operations Y-B had 13 locomotives and 400 cars in operation. Yawkey-Bissell also contracted with the Milwaukee Road to haul some logs from the Boulder Jct. area to the mill at Hazelhurst. The mill in Arbor Vitae closed in about 1912, and the one in Hazelhurst closed in October of 1911. Yawkey-Bissell then transfered its operations then to White Lake in Langlade County. (see Langlade County page) Notheren Highlands State Forest was created from Yawkey-Bissell's cut over land.

8.)H. W. Wright Lumber Company.

From about 1898 to about 1906 the Milwaukee Road was contracted to haul log trains for the H. W. Wright Lumber Company of Merrill Wi from a line that ran west from Glenbrook (about a mile east of Sayner on the Woodruff-Star Lake line) around the south and west sides of Trout Lake. Wright's logs were pulled up out of the lake and loaded onto flat cars. The Milwaukee provided all equipment and performed all train operations. Wright did the grading work. Milwaukee laid the track and kept ownership of the line after logging was complete. The Milwaukee also had the right to haul any other freight as a common carrier on this line. (Logs for the Goodyear Lbr Co were hauled by the MILW out o the area.) The Milwaukee entered into similar agreements with several other lumber companies along its Wisconsin Valley Division. On Jan 7, 1904 Wright won a lawsuit which voided his 1898 contract with the Milw and deeded ownership of the line to his company outright. After 1906, Wright moved its loggging operations south to Marathon County.

9.)A.H. Stange Lumber Company.

Stange, whose mill was located in Merrill, began operations in the fall of 1900. From 1900 until 1906 Stange relied on contractors Langley & Alderson to operate his camps and rail lines. In 1906, Stange began performing its own logging and railroad operations. In 1909 the Milwaukee Road entered into an agreement with the company much like that of the H.W. Wright Lumber Company listed above. The Milwaukee would provide rails (7 miles initially were leased to Stange) and cars to the company. Stange only needed to put together the trains for the Milwaukee to haul to Merrill. From 1909 until 1926 there were several spurs built off of Milwaukee lines in this fashion. One spur was located at the end of the Milwaukee's Papoose Lake Branch. Several smaller spurs branched off of the Star Lake-Arbor Vitae main as well. The primary location of Stange's operations was, however, at Knutson which was located in section 17 of Town 42 north range 9 east along Indian Lake. The line from Star Lake to Knudson was jointly constructed by the Merrill Lbr Co and Langley & Alderson in the fall of 1900. It came into Stange's hands in 1907 with his purchase of Merrill. In 1926 the Star Lake to Knudson line became part of the Milwaukee who operated it as common carrier trackage connecting with Stange's private railroad which ran north from Knutson. On Oct. 28,1927 the Milwaukee took over another 2.9 miles of Stange's tracks as the logging company's headquarters moved north to the Hardin Lake area. Stange operated his private railroad out of here up until 1936.

10.)Merrill Lumber Company.

Beginning in 1899, this company had several spurs in the area north and east of Star Lake. From 1899 until August of 1900 track was constructed and railroad operations carried out by Langley & Alderson, a logging contractor whose history is found later in this page. On Aug 1,1900 an agreement was signed with the Milwaukee, leasing 2.5 miles of rail to Merrill which was to be used to construct various logging spurs. Beginning that same month Merrill and Langley & Alderson jointly constructed a rail line north from Star Lake to Knudson in section 17 of Town 42 north range 9 east. Merrill never operated log trains. All rail operations were carried out by Langley & Alderson. The Milwaukee Road hauled its logs from Star Lake to the mill. In February of 1907 the Merrill Lbr Co was sold to the A.H Stange Lbr Co.

11.)Salsich & Wilson Lumber Company.

In 1895 the Williams Salsich & Co. relocated from Mc Kenna in Jackson County to Star Lake (see Jackson County page for details) The Milwaukee constructed a branch to Star Lake in that year and Williams Salsich began logging railroad operations. In 1897 the the company became the Salsich & Wilson Lumber Company. Beginning in 1896 and lasting until the end of its operations, Salsich & Wilson's camps were operated, and its log trains put together by Langley & Alderson. S&W hauled the completed log trains to the mill. That same year an agreement was entered into with the Milwaukee in which 15 miles of track were leased to the company. S&W could connect its lines up with the Milwaukee anywhere within a five mile radius of Star Lake and use the Milwaukee's tracks to reach the mill. S&W had to pick up a portion of the track maintainance on any Milwaukee tracks that it chose to use. On Oct. 1,1898 another agreement was signed in which the Milwaukee purchased the S&W's tracks outright. At the time the company had 36 miles of lines. A ten year agreement was signed in which S&W continued using its railroad same as before, but the Milwaukee had common carier rights on all of S&W's rail lines and could haul logs for other parties off of them. The Milwaukee also had complete ownership of the rail lines after logging was complete to do with whatever they pleased. Salsich & Wilson operated up to three locomotives, one of which came from the Chicago Elevated after it was electified. Operations ended when the mill closed on July 20,1906. Most of S&W's logging camps were operated by Langley & Alderson as well.

12.)Goodyear Lumber Company.

In 1895 Goodyear Lumber Company moved its sawmill from Goodyear in Jackson County (see Jackson County page) to Tomah on the Milwaukee's Chicago to St Paul main. Logging operations were initially moved north to Western Oneida County (see Oneida County page)and later Vilas County beginning in 1898. Goodyear had a 10 year agreement with the Milwaukee signed on June 1, 1899 in which the MILW provide rail (up to 15 miles)for Goodyear's lines. Goodyear would provide locomotives to put together the log trains, and the MILW would provide the flat cars. In 1900 operations were based on a line that ran southeasterly from Sayner into the Muskellunge & Pickeral Lakes area. Langley & Alderson operated the camps along this line and put together the log trains for Goodyear. Goodyear also had another line running north from the Star Lake-Boulder Junction line at Alva Jct. that ended north of Partridge Lake. This line ran from about 1898 until 1902. Goodyear itself seemed to have performed all camp and rail operations on this line. Goodyear also had a third line located east of Star Lake. (Camps and switching provided by Langley & Alderson.) Goodyear also had an agreement with the Milwaukee Road concerning operations and rates. The Milwaukee operated common carrier service on Goodyears' logging lines, and the lines reverted to Milwaukee ownership after logging was completed. There were also portions of the county in which the Milwaukee itself provided all transportation for Goodyear's logs. Operations of Goodyear's lines in Vilas County seem to have ended in about 1908. That year the Milwaukee constructed a line north from Boulder Junction to Bluebill about 4 miles across the border into Michigan. Bluebill was a Goodyear camp. Whether Goodyear had any logging railroads of its own at this point is unknown. The Milwaukee did operate 2 trains of logs a day from Bluebill to Goodyear's mill in Tomah up until 1918 when the mill closed.

13.) Langley & Alderson.

This company, based at Merrill, was a large logging and railroad contractor which from 1896 up until 1906 operated many camps and performed log train switching for the Salsich & Wilson Lumber Co, the Goodyear Lumber Company, the Merrill Lbr Co., and the A. H. Stange Lbr Co in the Star Lake area. In 1907 L&A constructed a line west from Land O' Lakes to log off lands owned by the Brown Bros. Lumber Company of Rhinelander. Operations here ceased in 1908, and the company went bankrupt the following year.

14.) Mason-Donaldson Lumber Company.

This company was located about 1.5 miles west of Land O'Lakes (called State Line at the time) on Mill Lake. Sawmill operations began in 1887, and the Milwaukee Lake Shore & Western constructed a spur west from its main to serve the mill. Between 1890 and 1892 a couple of logging spurs were constructed north from Mill Lake into Gogebic County Michigan. In 1907 Mason-Donaldson's mill burned down. The spur to Mill Lake remained in place until 1917. It served as a connection to Langley & Alderson's operations on Brown Bros. holdings, and as a spur for other logging operations. A second mill called the Otto Lbr Co was located on Mill Lake at the turn of the century as well. MLS&W and its successor C&NW provided alll operations.

15.) Wisconsin-Michigan Lumber Company.

This company was founded in 1920 by A.H. Stange interests to log off a large tract of land located in Gogebic County Michigan. The mill for this company was located at Eagle River. The logging railroad joined the Northwestern about a mile south of the state line and ran into Michigan reaching a length of some 40 miles at its greatest extent. Operations were discontinued in 1935.

16.)Hackley-Phelps Bonnell Lumber Company.

This company began operations in 1904 with a line running north and east of Phelps reaching into the Smoky Lake area and into Michigan. In later years the company constructed a line south into the Spectacle Lake area. For a period of time it appears that H-P-B operated the C&NW branchline from Conover to Phelps as part of its logging railroad as well This company was one of the few in the state to operate a Heisler locomotive on its pike. In 1929 HPB was succeeded by the C.M.Christenson Company.

17.)C.M.Christenson Company.

The reason I separate Christenson from its predecessor Hackley-Phelps-Bonnell is because when HPB sold out in 1928 rail operations ended. C.M.Christenson began rail operations again, but it was on a seperate line that ran due south from Phelps into the Anvil Lake area. Operations ended in 1935.

18.)Thunder Lake Lumber Company.

Thunder Lake Lbr Co had extensive trackage in the Kentuck and Spectacle Lake areas that was operated in the late 30's. (see Oneida County page for more details.)

19.)Daly & Sampson.

This company began operations at Rummels with 3.5 miles of track, a Lima Shay locomotive, and 10 Russell cars recycled from the recently abandoned Wood Co. RR. Operations began in the late fall of 1893 and probably lasted only a one season.

20.)H.D. Mc Cool Land & Logging Co.

In the fall of 1899, this company was contracted by Salsich & Wilson to log and haul 25 million feet of logs to its Star Lake mill. The company's camp was located on Jean Lake in section 25 of Town 42N 8W. McCool owned one locomotive and seems to have operated for only one season.