This is a synthesis of material related to Star Lake from Mr. Sasse's webpage sassmaster.tripod.com (1980), and supplementary material provided directly by Mr. Sasse.
- Bookwood Historical Collection, Star Lake
Vilas County Logging Companies’ Railroad Operations
(Operating in or near Star Lake)
by Timothy Sasse
[Material from his website (sassmaster.tripod.com) updated
as of 1/5/2000, supplemented by additional and updated
material from Mr. Sasse on 8/14/2014]
Charles P. Forbes, ed.
Alexander-Stewart Lumber Co
In addition to their Oneida County operations, Alexander-Stewart logged in Vilas County during the 1898/99 season. Operations were conducted off of the Buckatabon River southeast of Star Lake, with the logs being driven downstream to the mill in the spring of 1899. During the summer of 1900, Alexander-Stewart located a small camp at Miller’s Spur on the Milwaukee Road to the northeast of Arbor Vitae. During the 1900/1901 winter season, Alexander-Stewart again operated at Miller’s Spur and at Morrison’s Spur also located northeast of Arbor Vitae. During the 1902/03 and 1903/04 winter seasons, Alexander-Stewart operated a camp in Vilas County at Vandercook Lake about 5 miles north of Velasco. The Milwaukee Road reached this camp via the H. W Wright Lumber Co railroad. During the winter 1902/1903 season the company also logged at Harshaw and during the summer 1903 and winter 1904/05 seasons the company logged east of Tomahawk on the Marinette Tomahawk & Western Railroad. During the 1905 summer and 1905/06 winter logging seasons, a large camp was located a couple of miles northeast of Star Lake. The Milwaukee Road operating over Langley & Alderson’s Pine Creek and Black Oak Lake railroad operations reached the tracts of timber being logged by this camp.
By 1906 Alexander-Stewart was getting over half of its logs from small contractors at various locations, which seems to have been the method used by the company to secure logs during its last years of operation.
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 William Bonifas Lumber Company. On Jan 1,1929 this in turn became the Bonifas-Gorman Lumber Company. Railroad operations continued up until 1934.
Brooks & Ross Lumber Company
In 1908 the Milwaukee Road constructed a branch north from Boulder Junction to Bluebill (Bluebell) 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 Wisconsin(See Goodyear Lumber Company for info on operations of the Michigan portion of the line.) Beginning in 1912 the Milwaukee Road constructed several spurs that had names such as "Wild Cat Spur","Wolf Lake Spur", and "FastTrap Lake Spur". Brooks & Ross purchased a new Mogul in 1907 and likely used it in this area to put together trains for the Milwaukee Road. In 1926 the Milwaukee Road abandoned the portion of its branch north of Wild Cat Spur, the remainder going in 1928.
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 Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad (Milwaukee Road) 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.
Chippewa Lumber & Boom Company
In the fall of 1902, the Chippewa Lumber & Boom Co constructed an 11.32 mile line from Star Lake to a log hoist on Boulder Lake just northeast of the present day village of Boulder Jct. The rail line was constructed to get out 50 million feet of timber in the Boulder Lake area to Chippewa Lumber & Boom’s mill at Chippewa Falls. Chippewa Lumber & Boom seems, to have operated the line for a very short period of time. In February of 1903 they sold their remaining Vilas County timber to the Yawkey-Bissell Lumber Co. Chippewa Lumber & Boom then granted an easement to the Milwaukee Road to operate over its rail line on August 4, 1903. The branch was operated as a common carrier by the Milwaukee Road and served many other lumber companies as well.
The Milwaukee Road operated Chippewa Lumber & Boom’s line until 1914 when the majority of it (Cutler Jct.-Stange Jct.) was abandoned due to the acquisition of the Yawkey-Bissell Lumber Co’s Trout Lake line running north from Velasco to Cutler Jct. This provided a shorter route for Milwaukee Road trains from Woodruff/Minocque to and from Boulder Jct., thus bypassing Star Lake. The Milwaukee Road also claimed that the former Chippewa Lumber & Boom line was in poor condition as well.
C. M. Christenson Compan000y
When Hackley-Phelps-Bonnell sold out in 1928, rail operations ended. C. M. Christenson began rail operations again, but it was on a separate line that ran due south from Phelps into the Anvil Lake area. Operations ended in 1935.
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 referred 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 Lumber 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.
Goodyear Lumber Company
In 1895 the Goodyear Lumber Co relocated its mill from Goodyear in western Jackson County to Tomah on the Milwaukee Road’s Chicago-Twin Cities main. Logging was transferred at this time from Jackson County north to Oneida County and then, beginning in the summer of 1899, to Plum Lake in Vilas County. Goodyear had 3 small, but separate camp/railroad operations in the county which will be described here.
On June 1, 1899 Goodyear signed a 10 year agreement with the Milwaukee Road in which the Milwaukee Road would provide up to 25 miles of rail, and cars for Goodyear’s operations. Goodyear collected the loaded cars from the various logging locations, using its own locomotives, and delivered them to the Milwaukee Road main for hauling to the mill. The Milwaukee Road had common carrier rights on all of Goodyear’s rail lines in order to haul logs for other parties, and assumed ownership of the lines once Goodyear was finished with its logging operations.
Goodyear initially constructed a railroad line running southeast out of Plum Lake into the Muskellunge and Pickeral Lakes area. During the summer of 1899, a camp with 60-80 men operated at Plum Lake. The rail line southeast out of Plum Lake doesn’t seem to have been operated continuously by Goodyear, as during the 1901/02, and summer 1903 seasons only a small amount of timber was cut in the area and this cutting was contracted out. Goodyear seems to have operated this line on and off into at least 1907. In about 1906, Goodyear constructed a new line running north from Glenbrook into the Nebish Lake area that was in operation through the early 1910’s. Operations of this line were based out of Plum Lake too.
In 1904 and 05 Langley & Alderson took over a couple of Goodyear Lumber Co’s camps on Pickerel Lake to clean up timber owned by the Merrill Lumber Co in the area. The Milwaukee Road probably operated trains to these camps as part of its common carrier rights over Goodyear’s lines although Goodyear was still operating over the line at the time. It seems that the Milwaukee Road also used the same rights to access several blocks of A. H. Stange timber along the same line in early 1907as well.
Between 1901 and 1904, Goodyear operated a camp located about 3 miles due east of Star Lake. Goodyear trains accessed the camp over Langley & Alderson’s Pine Creek line, which was constructed in 1899. Goodyear trains would have hauled the logs from the campsite to the Milwaukee Road interchange at Star Lake. Later on, Goodyear contracted with Langley & Alderson to clean up its remaining small tracts of timber east of Star Lake. Langley & Alderson operated two campsites during the years of 1904 and 1905 on behalf of Goodyear. Langley & Alderson probably performed rail operations at these camps, which were also accessed off of its Pine Creek Line.
Between the fall of 1899 and 1901, Goodyear operated a camp on Ballard Lake located just west of Star Lake. Here a short railroad was installed, connecting the camp to the Milwaukee Road at Star Lake. In 1901 Goodyear shifted operations to Camp Alva located a couple of miles north of Ballard Lake on Alva Lake. Operations here lasted until about 1904. A logging railroad was constructed north into the area from Star Lake that ended near Partridge Lake. The Chippewa Lumber & Boom Co Railroad to Boulder Lake operated over a portion of it, between Star Lake and Alva Jct.
There were also other smaller areas in Vilas County where the Milwaukee Road gathered and delivered all of Goodyear’s logs, most likely at a higher rate, as stipulated by the 1899 contract.
By 1908, most of Goodyear’s logging operations were moved north to Bluebill (also Bluebell), Michigan, on the end of the Milwaukee Road branch running north out of Boulder Jct. Bluebill was a Goodyear Camp about four miles north of the state line in Gogebic County. Between 1908 and 1918, Goodyear generally shipped two daily trains of logs out of Bluebill to its Tomah mill. Goodyear still maintained operations out of Plum Lake on the Nebish Lake line through the early 1910’s. This was their last logging operation in the state.
Hackley-Phelps Bonnell Lumber Company
This company began operations in 1904 with a line running north and east of Phelps reaching into the Smokey 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 Hackley-Phelps-Bonnell operated the C&NW branch line 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 Hackley-Phelps-Bonnell was succeeded by the C. M. Christenson Company.
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 Lumber Co., and the A. H. Stange Lumber Co in the Star Lake area. In 1907 Langley & Alderson 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.
Langley & Alderson’s logging and railroad contracting activities in Vilas County included the following:
- Merrill Lumber Co 1898-1907 logging, camp and railroad operations
- A. H. Stange Lumber Co (Star Lake location) 1900-1909 logging, camp and railroad operations
- A. H. Stange Lumber Co (Papoose Lake location) 1905-1908 logging, camp, and railroad operations
- Goodyear Lumber Co 1901-1904 miscellaneous logging and camp operation
- Williams Salsich & Co/Salsich & Wilson 1898-1906 logging and camp operation
- Milwaukee Road. In 1900, the Milwaukee Road contracted Langley & Alderson to operate the former Salsich & Wilson railroad and the Pine Creek railroad line in the Star Lake area. In 1905 the Milwaukee Road contracted with Langley & Alderson to construct its branch from Boulder Jct. to Buswell. (called the Boulder Lake Railroad) Construction of the 14 mile line was planned in February of 1905. Construction took place during the summer, with the line opening up for service by the end of September. Langley & Alderson also constructed the Stange Lumber Co line running west from Buswell Jct. (See A. H. Stange Lumber Co Papoose Lake operations) and the F.W. Buswell Lumber Co’s unloading trestle at their mill.
- Brown Bros 1901-1909 logging camp and railroad operations.
More details about each operation can be found in the individual entries for the various lumber companies.
In addition to the entries above, Langley & Alderson contracted to cut for the Bradley Co in the 1907/08 winter season around Sayner. No railroad was built for this logging, as logs were loaded directly onto the Milwaukee Road main.
During the 1902/03 winter season Langley & Alderson switched log cars to and from a camp operated by the Alexander-Stewart Lumber Co a few miles northeast of Star Lake. Some of Alexander-Stewart’s logs were reached off of the Pine Creek line as well.
Langley & Alderson also operated a Brown Bros. camp east of Star Lake in 1903 and probably reached it via their Pine Creek railroad operation. During the 1907/08 season Brown Bros. logs were also being cut in the Deer Lake area reached via Yawkey-Bissell’s Trout Lake line.
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 Lumber Co was located on Mill Lake at the turn of the century as well. Milwaukee Lake Shore & Western Railroad and its successor C&NW provided all operations.
H. D. McCool Land & Logging Co.
McCool, a Wausau based contractor, logged for Mortenson & Co between, December of 1899 and the spring of 1901. McCool’s main camp was located on Jean Lake about 3 miles north of Star Lake, with a second camp located on Dorothy Dunn Lake. The camps were reached via the former Salsich & Wilson Railroad that the Milwaukee Road now owned.
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.
McMillan-Salsich Lumber Company.
On the Milwaukee Road branch in Jackson County that ran to Goodyear was a spur to another village by the name of McKenna located in section 21 of the same town. Here McMillan-Salsich Lumber Co. had its sawmill. In 1887 construction began on a narrow guage railroad to feed logs to the mill. Light construction was the name of the game as rail was only 20# on main lines. Secondary lines and spurs had wooden rails. Lines were built in both an easterly and westerly direction from McKenna. In 1891 McMillan-Salsich became Williams Salsich & Co. The line lasted only as long as the timber and operations which ceased in 1894. At this time Williams Salsich relocated to what is now Star Lake. The rail on the Milwaukee branch was torn up and used to build the line to Star Lake. The Milwaukee then transported the mill and all of the buildings in McKenna lock, stock, and barrel north (free of charge) and set up the Village of Star Lake. The Milwaukee also provided rails to the Williams Salsich Company at Star Lake as narrow guage and 20# rail both dissapeared at this time.
Merrill Lumber Company
Merrill Lumber Co began logging operations in Vilas County in the fall of 1894. Initially O’Day & Daly’s predecessor Daly & Sampson performed Merrill’s logging and railroad operations. Beginning in the fall of 1898 Merrill turned its logging and railroad operations over to contractors Langley & Alderson.
Langley & Alderson’s initial operations for Merrill occurred in the Black Oak Lake area directly north of Star Lake. A camp there had previously been operated by Salsich & Wilson, and was connected to their railroad. Langley & Alderson expanded the camp and operated it for 2+ years, beginning in the fall of 1898. The Milwaukee Road had purchased Salsich & Wilson’s railroad in late 1898 for common carrier access to other lumber companies operating in the area. Between 1898 and the fall of 1900, the Milwaukee Road operated rail service between Star Lake and Merrill’s camp at Black Oak Lake. On August 1, 1900 Langley & Alderson took over operations of the Milwaukee Road lines north of Star Lake under contract.
In the fall of 1899 Langley & Alderson constructed a 6 mile line connecting with the Milwaukee Road just south of Star Lake, that ran east and then south along Pine Creek running through 18 41N 9E. Langley & Alderson operated this line for about 6 years, hauling logs for Merrill, Goodyear, Salsich & Wilson, and A. H. Stange. Langley & Alderson operated 3 camps along this line for Merrill, beginning in late 1899; most of Merrill’s operations were complete in the area by 1904. Langley & Alderson seems to have operated for Merrill in the Pine Creek area with one camp during the 1898/99 winter and 1899 summer seasons, prior to construction of the rail line, with logs being skidded 8 miles to the Milwaukee Road main south of Star Lake.
On Aug 1, 1900 Merrill leased 2.5 miles of rail from the Milwaukee Road to construct spurs off of the Stange Jct.-Black Oak Lake line. The same contract stipulated that the Milwaukee Road would provide locomotives and cars to haul 20 million feet of Merrill’s logs. In 1900, Merrill opened a new camp a point about 4.5 miles northeast of Star Lake. Operations at this camp lasted until the spring of 1904. The Black Oak Lake camp had closed in May of 1901.
In 1904 and 05, Langley & Alderson operated camps for Merrill on Pickeral Lake located on the Goodyear Lumber Co Railroad. During the summer of 1905, logging also took place at a camp located southwest of Star Lake. At this time Merrill was outputting about 5 cars of logs per day.
By the fall of 1905, almost all of Merrill’s logging operations had been shifted south to Oneida County.
Merrill Lumber Co itself never operated any log trains. The Milwaukee Road or Langley & Alderson gathered Merrill’s loads and delivered them to Star Lake for shipment to the mill. In February of 1907 the Merrill Lumber Co was sold to the A. H. Stange Lumber Co.
O’Day & Daly
During the spring of 1895, they also cut a small amount of timber near Star Lake for the Williams Salsich & Co prior to the start-up of their mill. In 1896 logging operations were shifted to the area around Lac Vieux Desert. Here cutting was again going on for the Merrill Lumber Co, but all log transportation seems to have been via the Wisconsin River. Operations continued at Vieux Desert through 1897 and into early 1898.
Salsich & Wilson Lumber Company
In February of 1898 Salsich & Wilson succeeded Williams Salsich & Co. Beginning in 1896 (when it was Williams Salsich & Co.) and lasting until the end of its operations, Salsich & Wilson's camps were operated, and its log trains put together by Langley & Alderson. Salsich & Wilson hauled the completed log trains to the its mill in Star Lake.
On October 1, 1898 Salsich & Wilson sold their railroad, which was now some 36 miles in length, to the Milwaukee Road. Salsich & Wilson and the Milwaukee Road signed a ten year agreement that allowed Salsich & Wilson to operate its log trains over the now Milwaukee Road owned tracks and to build new spurs. (which the Milwaukee Road would also own). The purpose of this was to allow the Milwaukee Road common carrier access over Salsich & Wilson lines to reach operations of other logging companies. There were several cases of this such as Merrill Lumber Co.’s operation at Black Oak Lake, and Goodyear Lumber Co’s operations east of Star Lake, where another company needed access over the Salsich & Wilson railroad to reach the Milwaukee Road at Star Lake.
By 1899, Salsich & Wilson was operating over 36 miles of Milwaukee Road owned track with three locomotives, one of which came from the Chicago Elevated after it was electrified, and forty log cars.
The Milwaukee Road provided the needed rail for Salsich & Wilson’s spurs, and laid the track. Salsich & Wilson would operate its own log trains and the Milwaukee Road would be allowed common carrier access to the spurs. Spurs would then be removed, lengthened or shortened depending on Milwaukee Road discretion after Salsich & Wilson use. Maintenance and grading costs would be split between Salsich & Wilson and the Milwaukee Road.
Beginning in the fall of 1899, and over the next 5 years, Salsich & Wilson would saw 150 million feet of timber for Land Log & Lumber Co. This timber was logged by Langley & Alderson along their Pine Creek Line. (See Merrill Lumber Co. for a description of tht line.) Operations of the Pine Creek Line had ceased by the fall of 1905. Logging operations were begun in the area directly southwest of Star Lake in about 1904. Again Langley & Alderson operated Salsich & Wilson’s camps. This was the location of Salsich & Wilson’s final logging operations, terminating in the spring of 1906.
An August 1903 crash between a log train and a Milwaukee Road work train near Star Lake resulted in the deaths of 2 workers.
The company’s mill at Star Lake closed on July 20, 1906.
See also: Langley & Alderson, H. D. McCool Land & Logging Co., McMillan-Salsich Lumber Company and A. H. Stange Lumber Company.
A. H. Stange Lumber Company
The A. H. Stange Lumber Co., whose mill was located in Merrill, began logging in Vilas County in the fall of 1898. Stange initially did not perform its own logging, camp or rail operations, but rather relied on contractors to perform those services for them.
Initially the firm of O,Day & Daly was hired to log for Stange. They set up a camp between Star Lake and Johnson Lake, and logged for Stange there. The Milwaukee Road constructed a spur west from the Salsich & Wilson Railroad (which they owned) to reach these operations. O,Day & Daly also operated a camp on High Lake to log off timber for T.B. Scott of Merrill, between the summer of 1898 and the fall of 1899, in addition to the Stange camp. O,Day’s contracts ran out in the fall of 1899, and Stange’s Vilas County logging operations were turned over to contractors Langley & Alderson.
At the time of Langley & Alderson’s takeover, Stange’s logging was moved into the area around Johnson Lake. A large camp was constructed on the lake in 1900 and was operated by Langley & Alderson until 1909. Logging between 1900 and 1904 also took place at the Merrill Lumber Co camp located about 4.5 miles northeast of Star Lake. In the fall of 1900 Langley & Alderson took over the Milwaukee Road’s operation of the Salsich & Wilson Railroad line running north from Star Lake. This line ended at the Merrill Lumber Co camp near Black Oak Lake, with a branch line into the Johnson Lake area, where Stange’s timber was located.
A contract between Stange and the Milwaukee Road signed on August 1, 1900 provided Stange with 7.5 miles of rail to construct spurs. It also stipulated that the Milwaukee Road would provide locomotives and cars to haul 65 million feet of Stange’s logs. It seems possible that some of Langley & Alderson’s railroad operations were being conducted with Milwaukee Road owned equipment. Langley & Alderson crews seem to have gathered Stange’s carloads of logs and delivered them to the Milwaukee Road at Star Lake for forwarding to the mill.
In late 1904, and early 1905 a former Goodyear Lumber Co camp about 3 miles east of Star Lake was operated by Langley & Alderson to clean up Stange timber in the area. By early 1907, it seems that Langley & Alderson was also operating a camp for Stange located Milwaukee Road main between Arbor Vitae and Plum Lake. This was operated to clean up several small tracts of timber located along the Milwaukee Road main, and to clear up a large body of timber located on the Goodyear Railroad southeast of Plum Lake.
In 1905 a new Stange Camp was constructed at Knudson on Indian Lake in 17 42N 9E. This was to eventually become Stange’s headquarters camp. A new rail line was constructed connecting Knudson with the existing Johnson Lake line.
Langley & Alderson seems to have continued performing Stange’s railroad, camp, and logging tasks off of the rail lines running north out of Star Lake until its bankruptcy in 1909. After Langley & Alderson went bankrupt, Stange acquired the Stange Jct.-Knudson rail line from them, and also began operating its own camps. Stange began its own railroad operations with a newly purchased Shay locomotive. That same year, the line to Johnson Lake was torn up as the camp there had closed, with further operations taking place north of Knudson. Like previous line construction projects, Stange graded the line, and then Milwaukee Road crews came along and laid the track. Interestingly, the Milwaukee Road seems to have never had common carrier rights over Stange’s logging lines north of Knudson, as it did over other logging railroads in the area. Perhaps, this was because Stange was the only logging operator in the area by 1909. Over the years, Stange’s railroad was continually extended north reaching up to the area along the state line.
Stange’s railroad operations pretty much duplicated the same operations that Langley & Alderson had performed previously. Stange crews gathered loaded cars of logs, put them together in trains, and delivered them to Star Lake for the Milwaukee Road to forward to the mill.
By the early 20’s Stange was operating some 23 miles of track, running north from Stange Jct. (just west of Star Lake) into the area between Star Lake, and the Wisconsin/Michigan state line.
In 1926 Stange deeded the 6.27 mile Knudson-Stange Jct. line to the Milwaukee Road, retaining ownership of the track north of Knudson which hovered between 16 and 20 miles of 60# track over the next few years. The reason for this was to allow Stange to interchange cars with the Milwaukee Road north of Star Lake at Knutson, and to allow Stange to construct rail lines further north and west. A year later, on Oct 28, 1927, Stange attempted to deed another 2.9 miles of track to the Milwaukee Road between Knutson and Hardie Lake. This would allow Stange to again move its logging railroad operations further north and west although it seems that the Milwaukee Road never took over operations of this line preferring to keep the interchange point at Knutson. Stange continued to operate from the Knutson headquarters location until late 1937. The Milwaukee Road’s Stange Jct.-Knutson line was abandoned in 1937, at the same time as Stange’s private railroad
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, Michigan, east to Harris and Birch Lakes, and as far south as Circle Lily Lake. The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad (C&NW) provided rail to the company for construction of these lines. Operations ended in late 1926.
Vilas County Lumber Co.
See above: Bonifas-Gorman Lumber Company.
Williams Salsich & Co.
In 1895, the Williams Salsich and Co. relocated its operations from McKenna, in western Jackson County, to Star Lake. That year the Milwaukee Road extended its Valley Line north from Woodruff to Star Lake, transporting mill, houses, and other supplies north from the company’s previous location via a special train.
In June of 1895 Williams Salsich and Co. constructed an 18 mile logging railroad and began operations on August 1. Williams Salsich and Co. initially leased 15 miles of rail from the Milwaukee Road and could construct spurs branching off of the Milwaukee Road’s tracks anywhere within a 5 mile radius of Star Lake. Williams Salsich and Co. trains could then use Milwaukee Road trackage to reach the mill, but the lumber company had to pay a portion of the Milwaukee Road’s track maintenance costs depending on how many trains they operated.
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.
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 Road provided all equipment and performed all train operations. Wright did the grading work. The Milwaukee Road laid the track and kept ownership of the line after logging was complete. The Milwaukee Road also had the right to haul any other freight as a common carrier on this line. (Logs for the Goodyear Lumber Co were hauled by the Milwaukee Road out of the area.) The Milwaukee Road 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 Milwaukee Road and deeded ownership of the line to his company outright. After 1906, Wright moved its logging operations south to Marathon County.
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 Lumber Co at Arbor Vitae giving them two mills in the area.
Ross operation, called the Arbor Vitae Logging Railroad, 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 Road line from Star Lake to Boulder Jct. The Milwaukee Road constructed about a mile of track to connect the Trout Lake Railroad to its Star Lake-Boulder Jct line in about 1905. In 1903 Y-B purchased the holdings of the Chippewa Lumber & Boom Company in the Boulder Jct. area. Yawkey-Bissell's trains made extensive use of the Milwaukee Road's lines in the area. They used the Milwaukee Road's Wisconsin Valley main to connect the Trout Lake with the mill at Hazelhurst. (Officially part of the Hazelhurst & Southeastern Railroad. 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 Road line from Boulder Jct. to Alva Jct. (A few miles west of Star Lake) Their agreement with the Milwaukee Road, signed March 31,1905 allowed them to operate trains on the Milwaukee Road's lines as long as the Y-B engineer, fireman, and brakemen passed a Milwaukee Road rules test. Y-B also had to cover a portion of the track maintenance 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 Road 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 transferred its operations then to White Lake in Langlade County. Northern Highlands State Forest was created from Yawkey-Bissell's cut over land.