New Railroad to Bayfield

Waterfront at Bayfield Wisconsin 1911 Robert J Nelson Collection

Waterfront at Bayfield Wisconsin – 1911
Robert J Nelson Collection

New Railroad to Bayfield

Bayfield Progress, December 14, 1911

W.H. Holmes- Editor

Rumor that the “Bayfield Transfer Line will be extended” and “Would Provide Market for Great New Fruit Raising Country” were subtitles in this edition of the Progress.

“If rumors of the projection of a new railroad from Bayfield and the great fruit raising peninsula, of Northern Wisconsin at the head of the lakes are to be taken seriously, it will mean that one of the greatest fruit growing countries of the Northwest will be put into direct communication with Duluth and this city will be made a distribution for a new trade.

It is understood from an unofficial source that the Bayfield Transfer Railway Company, owned by the estate of W. F. Dalrymple and leased by C. E. Wales of Minneapolis, has had under consideration this project for the past two years, and has already made tentative plans for building the line over a direct route along the south shore of Lake Superior.  The railway is now in operation between Bayfield and Red Cliff, a distance of four miles and a branch runs off to a station called West End, fourteen miles from Bayfield.

The railroad was built some years ago by the Dalrymple estate [1] and was leased to Mr. Wales, who has operated it quite extensively as a logging road.  The railroad with the past two years has found much business among the fruit growers and also runs a regular passenger train.  An additional six miles is being built west from the West End branch to a tract of timber, which the Wachsmuth Lumber Company of Bayfield will open up.

The Bayfield peninsula is just coming into its own as a fruit raising country.  Its possibilities in this direction have lain dormant for years and it has been only within the last two years that people have realized this fact.  The climate on the peninsula as well as on the group of Apostle Islands is tempered in the summer as well as in the winter, and according to a geological report is milder than in any other part of Wisconsin. 

Since fruit growing has been taken up as a business in Bayfield County, shipments of apples and small fruits from Bayfield were surprisingly large.  During the season just closed, fifty-one carloads were sent out from this town alone.  The fruit grown all along this south shore country not excels in quantity, but also in quality.  A prominent professor of the Wisconsin University who inspected some of the fruit lands of the peninsula, was firm in his conviction the area was shortly to become the greatest fruit raising country in the Northwest. 

J.M. Smith of the Getty-Smith Company of Duluth, who is vice president of the road and administration of the Dalrymple estate, when asked about the new project said he knows of no new plans which have been made in this direction, although he was aware of the fact that this had been under consideration by Mr. Wales for some time. “It is something which is bound to come in time, and when it does come it will open up this wonderful fruit raising country to the markets of Duluth”, said Mr. Smith”.

[1]  Charles W. Dalrymple’s Bayfield Transfer Railway train first embarked northward over a tracked line from Bayfield to the Roy’s Point community and on into Red Cliff on April 25, 1898. The Transfer depot and steam engine roundhouse site, located at the foot of Washington Avenue, ran its southbound course from that point through Bayfield along Front Street, over a waterfront wooden trestle erected in the lake, thence to the Bayfield railway depot located on Broad Street and Manypenny Avenue (Block 105, lots 15-20). Hereafter the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha railway, out of Hudson, Wisconsin, picked up transportation duties related to timber and agricultural necessity.

This history brief was written by Robert J. Nelson. Generously sharing our local history through his research and writing.