Washburn Lumbering Days
Washburn begins on the shoreline of Chequamegon Bay. The city rises gradually 75 ft. above level of the water. In 1884, the town was created, born of the necessity of the railway (Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha) which required not only ample depth of water at the docks, but sufficient flat land, able to handle its cars and shipping. The work of obtaining the town site began in 1883 (prior to that time a small lumber camp was the center of activities). The site consisted of 366 acres of pine growth. Clearing the land and building of docks and railroad commenced. The railroad pier extended 1,000 ft. into the water, with 500 ft. width, (the main dock was 500 ft. x 15 ft.). It was the most perfect harbor on Lake Superior.
Locations for lumber mills were selected. Messers. Cook and Co. (Muskegon, Michigan), constructed a sawmill in 1885, building up to cutting 200,000 ft. of lumber per day. In 1887, 110,000 ft. of lumber was sawed out by the three big mills in Washburn; Ackley, Sprague, and Thompson Co.'s which were later purchased by Sterns Lumber Co. and the mammoth A.A. Bigelow Co. Their docks were built on piles extending 800 ft. from land to 1,000 ft. into the water. These mills were still in operation in 1900, employing 1000 men. Bigelow Co. sold out to Edward Hines Co. in 1902. It burned down in 1905. Kenfield and LaMoreaux operated a woodworking factory for several years. They made wire reels, spools and heading. Pine, birch, hardwood, hemlock and other timber were supplied to the 2 planing mills , shingle mills, lath mills, etc., and the 3 large sawmills. Hemlock bark was shipped for tanning purposes. With 2 billion ft. of standing pine in Bayfield County, with the bulk of it being in Washburn, it became a boom town. Population 4,000.
Lumber was shipped by railway and boat. Bigelow Co. owned a fleet of 6 boats. These mills shipped more board ft. of lumber then any port of all on Lake Superior. The lumbering industry boomed in the late 80's and 90's but the lumber co. had stripped much of the timber from the land by 1900. So the boom was over and the mills closed. Today, the Department of Natural Resources regulates the planting and cutting of trees so that future generation may reap the harvest of their rich heritage of timberlands.
The Hines Lumber Company
At this spot the Hines Lumber Company was located. It was previously the Bigelow Brothers Mills, but was purchased by Edward Hines in 1902. The purchase included 200,000 feet of stumpage, a logging railroad of 51 miles in length, and was the largest sawmill on Lake Superior.
He had a brilliant career in the lumber industry. He was the head of the largest lumber wholesaling institution in the U.S. and probably in the whole world in his day.
In 1897 he purchased the timber lands and mills near Ashland from Weyerhauser and Rutledge. In 1905 (June), he purchased the property of the White River Lumber Co. near Madison, WI. This deal involved a large sawmill, planing mill, 500,000,000 ft. of feet of timber and the entire town of Mason, at price of about $3,000,000. There were also purchases in Superior, WI, Duluth, MN., Park Falls and Hayward, WI.
In 1903 the Hines Co. owned the largest carrying fleet on the Great Lakes. In 1905 the company owned 20 steamers and barges, with a capacity of 15,000,000 ft. of lumber a trip.
It can be said the lumbering interests of the Edward Hines Lumber Co. extended from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border, and from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest representing large tracts of timber holdings, modern sawmill plants, as well as railroads.
Mr. Hines was born in Buffalo, N.Y., July 31, 1863, the eldest of seven children and the only son of Peter and Rose McGarry Hines. His parents moved to Chicago when he was two years old. There he attended the public school, after which he worked for about 18 months in a grocery store at $10.00 a month. He then began his lumber training in the humble capacity of tally boy with the cargo commission firm of Peter Fish and Brothers. Later he became an office boy at $4.00 a week in the office of the lumber firm of K.S. Martin and Company. This was the beginning of his successful career as in May 1892, the Edward Hines Lumber Co. was organized & Inc.