Red Cliff Lumber Companies – Part 2

Bayfield Transfer Railroad Toonerville Trolley in Russell Township BHA 80.1.427

Bayfield Transfer Railroad Toonerville Trolley in Russell Township
BHA 80.1.427

Red Cliff Lumber Company @ Buffalo Bay: 1898 

Excerpt Bayfield County Press

Managing Editor- Burton P. Hill

April 23, 1898

The Press headlines on the April 23 stated the Bayfield Transfer will put on a train Monday to run regular between here and Buffalo Bay. The rest of the story;

“Next Monday morning at 6:35 the Bayfield Transfer Railway Company will start its first regular train on the road between here and Buffalo Bay, and will continue running the same, making three roundtrips daily, except Sundays. They expected to start running today but were unable to do on account of the caboose not being finished in time.

A visitor to Buffalo Bay can hear nothing but the sound of the hammer and saw. The Red Cliff Lumber Company has a large crew of mechanics at work building a new sawmill. A spacious store building, boarding house for residents, a better and more picturesque location could not be found on the lake. F. L. Gilbert, known throughout the country as a progressive businessman is president of the company and at the helm of affairs. The D. J. Murray Manufacturing Company, Wausau, secured the contract for the construction of the mill, for the foundation, supplying machinery, and building or in fact in putting the mill in order.

The mill in the course of construction is being filled with all the modern improvements in everything that will facilitate the handling of logs and lumber. Messrs. Ehman and G. W. Lake, expert mechanics, are conducting the business of the manufacturing company. I. Howard, a gentleman with a genial disposition and thoroughly posted in the lumber business, is general superintendent for the Red Cliff Lumber Company. Mr. A. Gilbert will conduct the office business of the company. It is expected that the mill will be ready to operate May 1, when it will start up on a night and day run until the close of the season. It will produce 150,000 feet of lumber in 24 hours and it is anticipated there is lumbering enough in sight to keep the mill in operation for 10 years.

About 10,000,000 feet of logs was banked the past winter, averaging six to the thousand, a large parcel taking only three or four per million in consequence. The Red Cliff Lumber Company may be expected to court on the market an excellent grade of lumber. The company will employ at least 80 million. The services of two expert engineers have been secured. L. G. Johnson, from Tower, Minnesota will attend to the millwright end of the business. When the company docks are completed the cost of the new plant will reach the $40,000 mark. A number of people have been predicting the early decrease of the sawmill business but there is every indication that the buzz of the saw will be heard on the bay for a number of years to come. The Bayfield Transfer railroad passes close to the mill so that the company has lake and rail facilities to ship their manufacturers. 


December 22, 1910: Red Cliff Mill will Soon be going Again:  The Red Cliff Company owns a large sawmill at Red Cliff, Wis. near Bayfield, also much timber in both northern Wisconsin and Minnesota.  The company owns 100,000,000 feet of timber in Cook and Lake Counties in MN, which it will saw at the Red Cliff mill.  It will put the logs in Lake Superior, at Red Cliff, Minnesota, and tow them across to Red Cliff, Wisconsin.  Red Cliff is 90 miles east of Grand Marais. (The mill was idle for a year and then Mullery-McDonald Company purchased it from the passing of a certain Mr. Gilbert)  Bayfield Progress

January 11, 1912: Large Timber Purchase was closed on this day. The Wachsmuth Lumber Company has purchased all the timber holdings of the Red Cliff Lumber Co. which they owned in Bayfield and Ashland counties, which will give the home mill men an additional few years more to their immense business in logging work, ties, lumber, lathe, and shingle manufacturing. Bayfield Progress

July 18, 1912:  the Red Cliff mill is disassembled with all parts being sent by rail (Bayfield Transfer to the Omaha railroad to the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic railroad to the Duluth & Great Northern lines) to Mafeking, Manitoba for resurrection of a new mill. Bayfield Progress

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