Price Co WI

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The Village of Fifield was located on the north bank of the south fork of the Flambeau River. It began as a station stop on the Wisconsin Central Rail Road in the midst of an immense logging industry. The village was named after former Lieutenant-Governor Sam S. Fifield.

The first post office was established in 1877 and some of the first settlers of the village were:



Brassell, Patrick  
Cochran, David  
Hintz, W. F. Established the first General Store
Hoter, William E. Established the first hotel
O'Day, Daniel Built the one of the first log homes
Pixley, Hiram Operated a cook shanty
Slattery, Reuben Built one of the first log homes


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Excerpts from: Fifield: A History

By Douglas Severt

(To read the entire article click here: http://www.usr.sonet.net/usr/harbison/fifieldhistory.PDF )


The town of Fifield was first known as Flambeau, and was then located in Chippewa County. In 1879, a new county was established and named after William T. Price, thus Price County. At the same time the town of Flambeau changed its name and became Fifield, named after Sam S. Fifield of Ashland, Wisconsin, who owned much of the timber rights at that time.

In the early 1800's, Fifield was known as having some of the fightingest men in the middle west. The lumberjacks and others were known all over this area as the roughest and toughest men ever to hit the United States.

In the early 1900's, Fifield became headquarters for vacationers, hunters and fishermen from all over the Midwest. At that time there were hotels to accommodate many travelers. Many homes also took in men who came to hunt and fish in the thick forests, where game was abundant, and in the many lakes, rivers and streams where some of the largest musky, pike, bass, trout and other fish were recorded by sportsmen and took many blue ribbons or trophies.

Although there are still a few restaurants in Fifield, all of the hotels are gone. There are still some taverns and a grocery store, but most other places of business have vanished throughout the years.

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Logging in Early Fifield History

History of Fifield region Logging operations told by William A. Spearbreaker, a longtime resident and veteran of WWII.

1892: Van Dusen and Sherry built the Fifield Manufacturing Co. sawmill and operated it until 1896. The mill had a cut of 50,000 board feet. The mill was located at the sorting works dam. Van Dusen built the large home known locally as the "Old Mansion".

Liebelt and Landgraff constructed a mill just south of the Fifield site where the present Fifield Lumber and Supply Co. now stands. They sold their holdings to Henry Ocker, and the mill was partially destroyed by fire under Ocker's ownership. He sold his interests to Patterson Brothers, and the mill continued to operate until 1929. Estimate of the cut from 1900 to 1929 was 50,000,000 board feet before the mill was dismantled and moved.

1913-1924: Bean and Maxwell erected the Central Lumber Co. mill on the west bank of the Flambeau between the milk plant and the new state hwy. 70. The engine foundations of the mill can still be seen. This mill ran eleven years and cut 30,000,000 feet of lumber.

Another mill, the Hales mill, operated at Pike Lake from 1921 to 1928. The cut was hardwood and hemlock. Lumber and ties were hauled to Fifield and to the Coolidge spur by a steam hauler. Cut at this mill was estimated at 50,000,000 feet.

Following 1928-29, there was a slump in sawmill operations in the immediate Fifield area or until the late 40's when Liebelt and Fandrey built the Fifield Forest Products Co.

LOGGING METHODS: Logging methods had changed greatly during this period covered in this history. During the pine days the transportation was mainly via lakes, rivers, and creeks. In the hardwood and hemlock days, the transportation was a sleigh hauled over iced roads and logging railroads. During the present, more modern pulp era, the entire haul is by truck. This era also brought in the bulldozer, the truck equipped with logging jammer, the swede saw and the power chain saw. Skidding and road making have also been simplified by the use of modern machines.

The most significant happening during the late years has been the growing prominence of our national forest and the entry of small jobbers into the logging economy. In the early days of logging in northern Wisconsin, the logs were decked on the banks of streams and lakes that had outlets to rivers. They were hauled by means of oxen and horses pulling large, two-wheeled skidders, with wheel and axle high enough off the ground to clear the many stumps in the roadways. The wheels on these big skidders were ten feet high. Logs were fed into the river from tributary creeks, and these creeks were often harnessed by a series of dams to control the flow of water.

LOGGING DAMS: Many of these dams are still very much in evidence. The Flambeau River (south fork) had outlet at Pike Lake, a stake dam at the north of Riley Creek, a gate dam at Sugarbush and another at the sorting works at Fifield.

Sailor Creek had a series of dams: a roller dam at the mouth of Sailor Lake, a gate dam just east of Sailor Creek bridge at Hykinski's farm, and another gate dam was just east of the railroad bridge. The early pine-day dams were constructed by augering and driving wooden pegs to hold the timbers in place. At a later date, drift pines and spikes were used. The Gradey dam was rebuilt and maintained by Fifield with the flowage extending east to the Hascher road.

 LOG DRIVES: The start of any log drive in the spring called for great organization because of the diversified equipment necessary. The drive in itself was quite a spectacle with all its special gear and equipment among which were large French type Bateaus (river boats) and tents. And no drive would be complete without a Wannigan (a floating bunk and cookhouse), among Jacks it was better known as the "bug house".

Runners who carried messages from headquarters to the crews and reported the progress of the drive to head quarters were employed. Joe Traenkle was a runner from the headquarters' end.

The last year of the big drive, the "bug house" cast away from its crew on July 6, 1906. The high swift water caused it to rampage all the way to Ladysmith before its mooring ropes could be secured. A Wannigan was built on the lines of an Ohio river flatbottomed, keel boat. It was built in four sections and put together by means of wooden pins. The walls were also constructed in sections. It was propelled by large oars and steered by means of a stem sweep. A Wannigan could sleep a hundred men.

Logging roads followed low, leveled ground as much as possible. Where they had to cross soft or swampy ground, these stretches were corduroyed (a road made of logs laid to fill the low spots). At a later date, cuts and fills were made as the road making improved until finally there was a network of logging roads. The corduroy road is a hand-me-down from colonial pioneers.

Logs flowed down the Flambeau by the thousands, or came in on wagon or sleigh, depending on the season. Dams were built on creeks and streams to float logs to the river. Families and loggers came from all parts of the U.S. and Canada. Some weekends found as many as fifteen thousand humans crowded into the village. Saloons and stores did a land office business, and streets were jammed with teams of snorting, stomping horses, wagons, buggies, and carts.

The town was now called Flambeau and was located in, what was then, Chippewa County. In 1878, a railroad was extended from Westboro to the town of Prentice by the Central Railroad Company. In 1879, Price County was established, and the town was renamed after Sam S. Fifield, who owned most of the timber rights in that section. Now W. F. Huitz, who ran one of the mills, was elected as chairman to the new town of Fifield.

Some Indians still lived on the bank of the river, although many had moved and the village was growing smaller. Game was becoming scarce since the white men come, and the food shortage caused the Indians to move eastward. Someone had built a cabin south of the river, and a small foot bridge was erected for crossing. A large building was erected beside the Indian village, which later became a sporting house.

Henry Ferguson had built a cabin south of the river beneath the tall pines that still stood. One hundred yards south of the Ferguson home and deeper in the woods, John Rivers also built a cabin and moved his family there.

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Fifield School

The first Fifield school was established in 1887 in a warehouse owned by Bud Spalding. Carrie Goodell, sister of the station agent, became the first teacher. The first actual school building came in 1880 and was soon sold as a drugstore because it was too small. Another was erected and known as the North school on the northwest comer of Linden and Balsam street. Then in 1889 a larger school was built on Spruce Street north of Linden, which brought students from around the north country; later it was replaced by the new brick building in 1923.


For more information about the Fifield School: http://www.theseverts.net/School_Memorial.htm


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last edited

03 Jan 2010 

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