The Great Growing Section

Platted Section Map of Bayfield and Ashland Counties - June 3 1871

Platted Section Map of Bayfield and Ashland Counties
June 3, 1871

The Great Growing Section

Bayfield Press – June 3, 1871

Editor- Hank O. Fifield 

 “The map published here of prior to a 1871 government surveys conveys a better idea than any description we could give of the situation of the country about Bayfield, including the beautiful islands which form our harbor, and which, is completely shielded from storms. The map shows the size of each island in acres.  The aggregate area is about fifty thousand acres. All the islands are heavily wooded; some of the larger having a great proportion of heavy pine and hemlock, while the others abound with fine hardwood timber. 

The soil is sandy loam, fertile, capable of producing fine crops and is especially adapted to fruit growing.  This last statement will seem extravagant to some who are unacquainted with the surrounding conditions, but is entirely reasonable as the lake is materially modified by the vast surrounding body of deep water which, outside of Outer Island does not freeze in winter. By careful and accurate observations on an exposed portion of Michigan Island the past winter, it was found that ten degrees below zero was the coldest weather experience, while on the main shore but fifteen miles distant the mercury dipped to minus twenty-one degrees, a difference of eleven degrees in favor of the islands”.

Bayfield County Soils

By A. H. Wilkinson

Friday, February 20, 1914

Written for the December “Wisconsin Municipality

The soils of Bayfield County vary greatly in physical condition from heavy clay to light sand mixing into clayey loam and sandy loam soils in different parts of the county. Not until the timber was removed and a few scattering acres brought under cultivation was the great fertility of these lands were known. Garden patches around the lumber camps produced fine vegetables and garden truck. Seeds scattered from the forage brought in to feed stock covered the land with a thrifty growth of grasses and clover. Relieved of the forest shade, raspberries and blackberries spread over large areas. Thus nature demonstrated the possibilities in the soil of Bayfield County. The productiveness of the soil of Bayfield County is reflected in the variety of products being offered in the different markets and in the rapidly growing marketing associations and creameries.

Bayfield County is typical of upper Wisconsin in the production of grasses and grains. A number of dairy cows are rapidly increasing in all parts of the county. Beef cattle, sheep and hogs are being finished for the markets, at a profit on this native pasturage.

Vegetables from all types of soils as grown in the northern portion of the United States are produced generally throughout the country and find a preference in the markets owing to their splendid quality. The same results are obtained with garden trucked cauliflower; string beans, cantaloupe, tomatoes and celery are shipped to the nearby markets.

The development of the fruit industry along the shores of Chequamegon Bay testifies to the varied agricultural and horticultural possibilities. Ten years ago it can hardly be thought possible that today Bayfield County would be the largest shipper of small fruits in the state. Strawberries, cherries, currants and bush fruits are shipped in carload lots.

Not only are we producing wheat, grains, vegetables and fruits, but our soils are adapted to the production of a variety of other cash crops. Profits are obtained in growing clover seed, seed peas, etc. Flowers are not neglected commercially. At least one enterprising farmer [most likely John Hauser Sr.] has found profit in growing pansy plants. Owing to the size and hardiness of the plant, thousands are ordered ahead of the supply.

Further proof of the wonderful possibilities of Bayfield County soils is shown in the products displayed at the various agricultural fairs from year-to-year. After Wisconsin State fair this year, Bayfield County supplied two exhibits, one a large exhibit in the horticultural building and a general County exhibit in the County building. These were tremendous arguments for the productiveness of Bayfield County soils. 50 display jars or used for showing the different varieties of small fruits. The size, color and variety of fruits convinced the most skeptical of the productiveness of Bayfield County soil. Highly colored apples filled 25 feet of space showing the principal varieties grown, and attracted the attention of horticulturist for their quality and soundness. The agricultural display was typical of the wide range of agricultural possibilities on the soils of Bayfield County.

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