Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Lumberjacks and Farmers in the Northwoods of Wisconsin

By Paisley Kirkpatrick
My Northwoods Series is based in Upper Wisconsin in 1857. The rich history in this area provides a great background for my tales of trapping, fishing, and the harvesting of rich forests.
I belong to the Historical Society and once a year spend an afternoon in one of the two museums in our small community. My favorite of the two buildings is a small log cabin filled with artifacts used by lumberjacks and farmers. The rich forests here provide the many sawmills in the area with timber. What I've found remarkable are tools they used all those years ago for the logging business and farming.
The water here is pure and the ground rich for growing fields of vegetables and food for livestock.
Most major cities in central and northern Wisconsin were built around or over rivers. These waterways provided an opportune way to transport pine logs from rich forests to the mills. Forests adjacent to the Wisconsin River were the first to fall from a lumberjack's ax.
Multiple rivers provided a convenient mode of transport for the pine logs to travel from the forests to the mills. These sawmills used the swift-moving rivers to power waterwheels and the huge saws they used to first to cut the logs into boards and then the logs into boards.
White settlers moved into the Northwoods and began to develop the lumber industry. Even though their settlements were established far distances from obtaining supplies and enjoying the convenience of markets, a limited form of transportation, and unimproved roads and waterways, the lumber industry grew steadily and formed the backbone of the state's economy by the middle of the nineteenth century.
Stevens Point and Wausau are two towns that can thank the mills for expanding. They provided general stores, banks, grocers, and other businesses to support the growing population of loggers and mill workers.


  1. Paisley, the area sounds beautiful. I love museums, too. Even though they are interesting, I always come away grateful for my modern conveniences. Of course, that's what people of that time believed about their way of life. Beautiful photos of the water!

  2. Hi Caroline. We are blessed to live in the Northwoods. Our backyard fence is the river. :) My stories reflect this area in 1857 so I do a lot of research and am finding about my husband's birthplace.

  3. Wonderful wrap of the area. Thanks!

  4. Hi Judy. Thank you for stopping. This is a great place to live to write historical romance. :)

  5. I don't know much about Wisconsin except it's cold. I went there with a friend to visit relatives in early summer and needed a sweater. You make it sound like a fun place though with those outdoor activities.
    I wish you all the best.

    1. Thanks, Sarah. I am a California girl, but hubby was born and raised in this place. I am here forever now because of the life we lead here. I am Celic and Nordic so I guess that's why I'm the one prayer for more snow. :)

  6. Amazing, amazing, Paisley. You always have such interesting posts about a part of our country that is not often discussed or used in a story. I admire your faithfulness to your background and history of your state.
    I like an author who "writes what they know." And you are one of those authors.
    Well done! Celia

  7. Thank you for such a nice compliment, Celia. I do love history and this place is filled with interesting history and beautiful country.

  8. Paisley, I want to come visit. Those pictures are so beautiful! I can imagine sitting outside staring at the river and listening to the birds as I write.


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