Public Knowledge: Timberland and Shipping Activities

The Steamer Peshtigo Loading Plank BHA 2000.43.7

The Steamer Peshtigo Loading Plank
BHA 2000.43.7

Public Knowledge: Timberland and Shipping Activities

The following clips from the Bayfield Press and Bayfield County Press augment the fact that Bayfield’s timber industry for many a year was solely dependent on Great Lakes transport travel. By schooner, steamer or schooner-steamer combinations all finished planks, structural studs, shingles, lathe, barrel staves, mill supplies and manpower for the mills arrived by way of Lake Superior.  An abrupt turnabout started a phase-in when the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha railway arrived October 12, 1883 @ 4:04 p.m. Transport of mill products on the “Iron Horse” became more economical and faster.

Bayfield relied heavily on timberland and shipping information in Hank Fifield’s Bayfield Press from 1870 until 1872, then on a few fly-by-night press productions, and did not have a reliable newspaper source until 1882. The arrival of Currie G. Bell to Bayfield in 1882 changed that as he began to organize the Bayfield County Press. Thus the Harbor City community kept abreast of all mill activities.  Up and down-bound shipments from the peninsula and Chequamegon Bay were presented.  Here are but a few press “FYI’s” and ship-load photo examples from that period until August of 1883 of which documented ship loads of wood products from the columns of these grand newspapers as they were presented.

13, October, Thursday, 1870: James Chapman & Company is receiving their lumber at the foot of Washington Avenue for the Reservation Saw Mill, which they will run next season. They bring the lumber by flat boats. Bayfield Press

20, October, Thursday, 1870: S. S. Vaughn’s sawmill shut down operations for the season last Monday.  The mill has done big work and the quantity of lumber on hand is nearly 900,000 feet.  Bayfield Press

27, October, Thursday, 1870: The Atlantic, of the Buffalo and Lake Superior Line, took on 100,000 #1 shingles from R.D. Pike’s dock, with orders from Cleveland, Ohio for 800,000 more. Bayfield Press

5, November, Thursday, 1870: R.D. Pike’s mill is sawing for the station houses, to be put up along the Bayfield-Superior Wagon Road.  A crew of men started last Monday to work on the road.  The locations for the stopping places have been and that work will commence immediately. Bayfield Press

19, November, 1870: Our public spirited and energetic townsman, Hon. S.S. Vaughn, has ordered machinery for sawing siding and planking lumber, to add to his already extensive business in this line. This past season Vaughn has sawed over a million feet of lumber on hand for spring trade, and is going to cut logs enough for one and a half million feet of lumber this winter. From Bayfield Press

26, November, 1870: Col. Rudd, of Weaverville, Kentucky, purchased some 3000 acres of pine land from the government a few miles from Bayfield last week, paying nearly $8000.  Bayfield Press

10, December, 1870: Bayfield Press

  • A few days ago we noticed on Vaughn’s dock, a package of machinery, looking somewhat like a cross between a steam sawmill and a patent tooth extractor, whose mission in life baffled our curiosity. Upon inquiry we learned that it was a new fashion stump puller.
  • We were down to R. D. Pike’s mill the other day to inspect the new machinery which he has received from below. The latest style, not inconveniently large or heavy is easily handled. It will dress 10,000 feet of lumber per day, without being crowded. Such a machine has been much needed here, and we hail his presence is another proof of the existence of that enterprising spirit which alone can make our town flourish. The greater part of Mr. Pikes machinery for making barrels has arrived, the remaining portion will be here soon via St. Paul and Duluth. It is his intention to have it in readiness to supply the spring trade. The machinery can turn out from 300 to 500 fish barrels per day, and will do much to relieve us from the inconvenience of sending to the lower lakes for them.

12, August, 1871: Bayfield Press: The Government saw mill at Red Cliff cuts about 8000 feet per day.

16, September, 1871:  The government saw mill at Red Cliff is still cutting large quantities of lumber.  The Alice Krieg took some 18,000 feet of lumber from Red Cliff to Grand Portage. The Northern Light took 100,000 shingles from Vaughn’s Mill dock and headed for L’Anse, MI.  Bayfield Press

28, October, 1871: The Norman took 50,000 shingles from Pikes Mill last Sunday to Duluth. Bayfield Press

4, November, 1871: The number of acres entered in the Land Office during the month of October is nearly 9,500.  The purchase money received is $22,500.04.  ie $ .42 cents per acre. Bayfield Press

18, November, 1871: Captain Pikes new planing and matching machine is a valuable acquisition to his mill.  The captain is now planing and matching flooring for the spring trade. Bayfield Press

25, November, 1871: The Norman took nearly 200,000 feet of lumber and 900 packages of fish on her last downward bound trip. The schooner Alice Craig has gone to Duluth with a load of shingles and will bring back flour, salt, etc. Bayfield Press

23, December, 1882: Bayfield County Press

  • The saw mills in Duluth and vicinity cut 145,500,000 feet of lumber this past year.
  • The Sioux River Lumber Company is erecting logging camps at Onion River and expect to bank between two and 3,000,000 feet of logs. The incorporators of the company were W. H. Irish, W. G. Maxey and John S. Stevens.
  • Pike’s mill made a successful run the past season going to the improvements that were being made the season did not open until June 10 and a shutdown on Pine December 14, having cut 5,500,000 feet. From the 14th to the 21st they were cutting oak for shipbuilding purposes.

30, December, 1882: The boys in the surrounding logging camps came in to spend Christmas and give the saloons a benefit. Bayfield County Press

13, January, 1883: The Sioux River boom and improvement company is the name of a corporation as file papers with the register of deeds, and this village last week. The names of the incorporators are, Col. John H. Knight, Joseph Vilas and W. H. Irish, and the capital stock is $10,000 in shares of $100 each. Bayfield County Press

17, February, 1883: Bayfield County Press:

  • Engineer Carrington informs us that the work of driving piles for the building of the railroad bridges across the Sioux River has been inaugurated.
  • Milligan pulls the reins over one of the finest span of forces in this section.

10, March, 1883: The Log Harvest cut in the Bayfield neighborhood this season; (in millions of feet)- Fred Fisher-bay shore-3.0 million; Frank Boutin– bay shore-.75; Elisha Pike– bay shore-.75: John H. Knight– bay shore- .75; William Knight– Pike’s Bay- 3.5; N.P.L. Company– Sioux River-3.0; Al Angus– Sioux River- 2.0; Mc Guigan Brothers– bay shore for A.L. Co.- 2.5 & Alexson– bay shore-1.0: West Snow– bay shore-1.0: J.H. Knight-bay shore- 1.0; Mike Waters– bay shore- for A.L. Co.- 3.0; Ritchie and Co.– Marengo River-2.5; Richie and Co.- Fish Creek- 1.5; Shafer, Bogle & Sullie– Fish Creek- .50; Hochdanner and Leihy– Sioux River-0 2.0: Dundas Brothers– Sioux River and SL Co.- 2.5; J. McNeal– White River-for S.L. Co.-4.0; Ed Brown– Fish Creek- for SL Co.-2.5; Larry Curtney, bay shore, for SL co. – 1.0; Ed Green– White River- 3.0; Denomie and Haskins– Marble Point-3.0; Moor & Hart– Marble Point- 3.0; George Forysythe– White River-3.5; Union Mill Co. @ Bad River- 1.8; Orlando Flanders– Madeline Island-.40; & a scattering of 2.0.  Total 53, 200,000 feet of lumber produced. Bayfield County Press

17, March, 1883: Bayfield County Press:

  • The lumberjacks are, and all of the woods and our streets present a lively appearance.
  • Fisher’s (logging) camp at Buffalo Bay broke up this week, having banked 3,000,000 feet.
  • Fred Herbert visited Squaw Bay Tuesday with a load of supplies for the logging camp at that point.
  • Judge Pike’s camp on Pikes Creek broke up last week, having banked 3,700,000 feet of logs.
  • Orlando Flanders and Frank Boutin, Jr. will bank in the neighborhood of 140,000 feet of logs on the west side of Madeline Island. This is inclusive of Mr. Flanders operations on the East side of this island.

24, March, 1883: Logging operations are about through for the season. Bayfield County Press

31, March, 1883: Capt. Pike went to Ashland Friday with a half dozen teams and is expected back today (Saturday) with the boilers and other machinery for his mill. Work on the foundation to the smokestack progresses finally, and from now until the opening of navigation Pike’s mill will be the liveliest point on the Bay. Bayfield County Press

07, April 1883: The village “cooler” is well patronized these days, notwithstanding its cramped quarters and offensive odors. The village has been overrun with logging boys this week. Bayfield County Press

19, May, 1883: the Bayfield County Press

  • The steam barge Morrison, of beaver Bay, was in port Tuesday, looking after a cargo of lumber.
  • Russell Colburn arrived from Duluth on the Manistee the first of the week to take command of Capt. Pike’s tug Favorite season of 83.
  • R. D. Pike, the well-known and energetic lumber manufacturer Bayfield, did business in Duluth this week. He reports that during the past winter his sawmill was improved at an expensive over $5000. He will saw about 8,000,000 feet of logs this season. His schooner, the Maple Leaf, which has been lying partially wrecked near the Iron River since last fall, will be raised just as soon as possible, and brought to Duluth where she will be refitted as a tow barge, to concert here after with the tug Favorite, also owned by Capt. Pike. – Duluth Tribune

14, July, 1883: Bayfield County Press

  • The steamers Toledo, India, Osceola, Nyack, Manistee, and City of Fremont were in port this week as was the barge Morrison and took on the load of lumber from Pike’s mill.
  • The White River pulp mill has shut down; cause, can find no market for its products.
  • Pike with a crew of men visited the mouth of the Iron River Tuesday for the purpose of examining his Schooner Maple Leaf, wrecked at that point last fall. After a thorough examination the captain came to the conclusion to attempt to get her off the rocks would be a useless expenditure of time and money, and stripping her of everything of value abandoned her to her fate.
  • Work on the Squaw Bay sawmill progresses slowly and but little cutting has been yet done.

11, August, 1883: Bayfield County Press

  • William Knight has purchased of Judge Pike 1,000,000 feet of pine logs in Pikes Creek, consideration $4.50 per thousand.
  • Pike has a contract for furnishing 1000 cords of slabs for the dock at Washburn. He commenced delivering the first of the week.
  • The heaviest transaction in real estate in Bayfield County for these many months was the sale last week by the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway Company of 20,830 acres of pine. Drummond area; consideration, $223,330.
The Ireland Loading at Bayfield East Dock December 1906 Photo Burt Hill

The Ireland Loading at Bayfield East Dock December 1906
Photo Burt Hill

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