Stranger’s Opinion of Bayfield’s Fruit Future

AE Tyler Farm Bayfield Progress September 30 1909

AE Tyler Farm
Bayfield Progress – September 30, 1909

Stranger’s Opinion of Bayfield’s Fruit Future

From the Chicago Record Herald

Bayfield Progress – September 30, 1909

W.H. Holmes- Editor-Journalist

The development of the fruit industry in the Lake Superior region of northern Wisconsin is now attracting the attention of state-wide and regional horticulturalists.  Until the recently, only the people of the sparsely settled communities of Bayfield, Port Wing and other towns along the lake between Superior and Ashland appreciated the advantages possessed by that region for the production of apples, cherries and smaller fruits.

At Bayfield, which is the oldest town on the lake, trees were to be seen that had borne apples for nearly half a century and on Madeline Island where clumps of cherry trees believed to have been planted by the Jesuits who established a mission there in the 18th century—trees that have reproduced themselves without deterioration of their fruit until now—and the region would become noted for its “sliced strawberries”, but even the natives failed to value the evidence that was before them. 

Finally, about four years ago, William Knight, a lumberman found that his attempted retirement from business activity was a failure, and in looking for another field of endeavor concluded that where he had manufactured lumber he should also raiser fruit.  He proceeded to demonstrate his faith by planting twenty acres of trees each year and will continue doing so in the future.

Others followed Mr. Knight’s example and now every settler and many horticulturists are planting apple and cherry trees and small fruit. Upward of seventy-five acres of strawberries were planted in the immediate vicinity of Bayfield this year.  The claim is made that Lake Superior is a protection against both spring and fall frosts, and that the abundant snowfall and climatic conditions give vigor to the tees and that, coming on the market later than the fruit of any other region, this product command a market of its own. 


One of the Early North Land Towns

Bayfield County Press – February 12, 1904

In the lumber business and the fish industry Bayfield had its main support. Other business lines have assisted, but here, as elsewhere in this North Country, the people are looking towards agriculture for one of the mainstays of the future. This is the oldest settled portion of Bayfield County and here can be found the largest and best developed farms. Not many of them as yet, it is true, for this part of the country was unusually heavily timbered, and the logger had his first work to do.

Hardwood covered a large part of the land when removed, unusually fine soil for agricultural purposes remained. It is light clay with a mixture of sand, a combination that cannot be surpassed for fertility.

I was surprised to find the extent of the fruit culture here. This appears to be the apple belt of northern Wisconsin, judging from the number of orchards and the yields that cannot be controverted. The fruit does well on the very shores of this lake. The plum is also a hearty grower, and the strawberries and kindred small fruits are easily raised. The people have ascertained by experiments what varieties of apples and other fruits do best and how to plant and care for them. When this knowledge extends to other parts of the south shore counties, such fruits will be easily grown all over the territory.

Some of the older farms near Bayfield have demonstrated that a variety of corn can be raised. Of course this is the land of the potato, and other root crops, and grass and hay could not be finer. Wheat, oats, rye, barley and peas all are sure crops. It is an ideal country for stock raising and dairy, and now that Bayfield, and, along with other northern towns needs other support than what has been back of it, the people are turning to the development of the thousands of idle acres in this vicinity.

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