Red Cliff Lumber Companies – Part 3

Buffalo Bay: 1898

Bayfield County Press

Managing Editor- Burton P. Hill

Saturday, September 3, 1898

Natural beauty, Retouched by the hand of man: The transformation brought to an Indian village by the saw mill and the railroad, read the headline’s of the Bayfield County Press on this date.

“It is one of the most beautiful spots on the lake”. This is the tribute paid to the village of Buffalo Bay by the compiler of the “History of Northern Wisconsin“, published some 17 years ago. Any person viewing the place from the deck of the steamer, as it recedes from the shore, could not criticize the above writer’s opinion with honor to himself. Nearly all of the towns on Lake Superior are picturesque, but each has a charm peculiarly its own, hard to analyze or describe. The situation of Buffalo Bay, on the eastern slope of a semicircular range of hills, which, in spite of the dense thickets of evergreens crowning their sides here and there, remind one of an ancient amphitheater.

If the writer of 1881 were to look on the place today he probably would not revise his estimate of the beauty, but certainly would make a different report in regard to its possession of the attributes which should characterize a town and the streets and progress. Most of this change has come within the last year; in fact within a few months the sleepy Indian village, as studied by the historical writer who saw it, has become a hamlet where manufacture can be heard for nearly the whole twenty-four hours. Commerce, as well, has received an impetus. Where little else was but log cabins and rude huts, now stand beautiful and substantial residences. What has brought about this rapid transformation?

The advent of the white man’s saw mill upon the Red Cliff Indian Reservation and the entrance of the white man’s iron horse – sawmill to cut the pine, purchased from the Indians, into lumber and the iron steed to haul it to market.

Red Cliff Lumber Company

The company store is of good size and the stock is well arranged as in any general store. The manager is C. E. Bloome, of Ashland, and his efficient clerks are Antoine Buffalo Jr., W. H. Hopkins, and John Neilan. Mr. Hopkins is acting as postmaster since the departure of Mr. Ellis, the former postmaster and store manager. The company’s offices are at the back of the store, where Mr. A. E. Gilbert, the manager for the company, J. G. A. Le Blanc, the bookkeeper, and E. F. Everts, his assistant, can be found at work.

The Red Cliff Lumber Company was organized for the purpose of buying and manufacturing the pine on the Red Cliff Reservation into lumber, the pine having been put onto the market by the government. The officers of the company are F. L. Gilbert, president, Duluth, Minnesota; A. P. Lovejoy, vice-president, Janesville, Wisconsin; H. H. Foster, secretary, Merrill, Wisconsin; E. T. Buxton, West Superior, Wisconsin.

About 15,000,000 feet of logs were put in for the company last winter. Besides timber on the reservation, the company controls about 50,000,000 feet of timber in the vicinity of Chequamegon Bay, and it is estimated that there is timber enough tributary to the mill to keep it in operation for 25 years.

The mill, of which mention has been made mentioned several times in these columns, was built by the D. J. Murray Manufacturing Company, of Wausau and cost in the neighborhood of $40,000. It is a modern mill, with all modern improvements for convenience, rapidity and accuracy of work. It has one band saw, a re-saw machine, and a shingle and lath machine. Its capacity is about 50,000 feet of lumber, in ten hours, besides shingles and lath. At present it is running day and night. The entire plant, including the yards, is lighted by electricity.

The dock is nearly completed with shipments by water are already being made. The steamer Hunter lands there, instead of at Chief Buffaloes’, where she has been landing hereto for.

From one hundred ten to one hundred fifteen men are employed about the mill and yards; this timber, together with the men at the store offices, boarding houses, etc. runs the list on the payroll close to one hundred fifty. Bayfield County Press Ca 1906

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