True Hometown Built – Tug Bayfield

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The Tug Bayfield Jim and Marge Miller Family Collection

The Tug Bayfield
Jim and Marge Miller Family Collection

Robert Emmett Waiting for a Tow ca 1903

Robert Emmett Waiting for a Tow
ca 1903
BHA Pike Research Center Archive Collection

Lake Superior Towing Company Fleet ca 1910 The Bayfield - Henry W and derrick scow Badger

Lake Superior Towing Company Fleet ca 1910
The Bayfield, Henry W and derrick/scow Badger.

True Hometown Built 

On February 18, 1909 Einer “Shine” Miller, William Duquette, both licensed tug boatmen and Henry W. Wachsmuth, of Wachsmuth Lumber Company filed Articles of Incorporation, Chapter 86,  with the State of Wisconsin for the purpose of establishing a tug boat corporation.  Their intent was to join the active and profitable log towing industry that ran its course until the available local timber was mostly harvested by 1924. These floating powerhouses towed huge volumes of cord wood, 10,000 cords at times, from the beaches of the south shore of Lake Superior and at times ventured near to seventy miles across the troublesome sea to north shore towns like Grand Marais, Minnesota for valuable saw mill and later until the early 1970’s, paper mill cordage.

To meet the expanding market demands of the local mills the newly formed company’s first task was to build their own tug boat towing inventory.  On November 30, 1908  the Bayfield County Press informed the public that the corporation was ready to build their flag-ship Bayfield and offered “Lake Superior Towing Company Completes Arrangements for New Tug; Work Has Already Commenced; Fred Maynard , a Former Bayfielder has Charge of the Construction Work that were the subtitles this week.   

“The Lake Superior Towing Company of this city has completed arrangements for the construction here this winter of a new tug. The tug Bayfield will be constructed to take the place of the tug Emmett which this company used during the past season, and which was formerly the property of Captain Charles Leihy. The machinery of the Emmett will be transferred to the hull of the new vessel upon  its completion. Fred Maynard, formerly of this city, now of Duluth, has charge of the work which is now well underway.

The Bayfield, when completed, will be very substantial and will be one of the best of its kind on Lake Superior. It will be constructed of white oak timber, will be 85 feet long and have an 18 foot beam and a depth of 10 feet. Altogether about $8000 will be expended in the construction of the boat and together with the machinery owned by the company, the boat will be a fine one.” This work would be completed on the south beach of Bayfield, between 2nd Street and Broad Str. 

The Press followed with “The new tug, “Bayfield,” constructed here this winter for the towing company, will be ready Monday or Tuesday and will probably start out to bring in rafts to the mills in the city and Washburn and at Ashland. The Stearns Lumber Company has contracts with the local companies for the cutting of about 120,000,000 feet of timber the summer. The Bayfield will be assisted in the work by two other tugs and a gasoline boat. April 23, 1909

Life expectancy of a wooden boat met, the Bayfield was beached in the port of call, Port Arthur-Fort William, Thunder Bay, Ontario.

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