Star Lake began in 1894 when the railroad arrived, bringing with it a logging company to log the forests and establish a lumber mill where the railroad met the lake. It was boom for a little over a decade, but by 1908 the mill was closing, logging operations were moving on (mostly to the American Northwest, as the great forests of Wisconsin were gone), and the houses were literally packed up and moved away for use elsewhere.
But Star Lake was the town that wouldn 't die--the Ghost Town that wasn't. Farming (now gone) and resorts (changing but some are thriving) kept the town alive for a century. Now it exists as a service town to campers, summer homeowners, a few that have chosen to live there and work in nearby towns (a suburb?), and a growing number of retirees.
Legally, Star Lake barely exists. It is not incorporated, and never was. That means it has no local government. It is part of Plum Lake Township in Vilas county--a township it shares with its nearest community neighbor, Sayner; but Sayner is larger and is clearly the tail that wags the township dog. It once was a railroad and telegraph station, called Star Lake, but that train has been gone since World War II, and who knows what a telegraph station is today? It derives its name from tradition, and the United States Postal Service. It was a post office since the beginning, but a few years ago lost its status as a genuine post office with a postmaster and now has a "Community Post Office" and no one with the title Postmaster. But it still has a Zip Code--that magical key to survival for so many small towns in America. Star Lake is 54561, and nobody had better forget it!
If, to the left, you click on Bibliography you will get a bibliography of books about Star Lake, and a longer list of books that mention Star Lake. [In all other cases on this Web Page, you get a bibliography by clicking on the "Bibliography" link at the bottom of the page.]