The Logging Industry



One of the major industries in Wisconsin’s history came from the forests of the central and northern regions of the state, the logging industry. During the nineteenth century Wisconsin was one of the biggest lumber producing states in the U.S.A.—helping build cities across the Midwest.

The areas around the Wisconsin River, Wolf River, and the watersheds of the Black and Chippewa Rivers were the major lumbering regions in Wisconsin. The rivers provided transportation for the logs and power to the sawmills. Entire cities grew up around these lumber camps, such as Eau Claire, Black River Falls, Stevens Point and Wausau. Later on railroads transformed the industry by allowing year-round work and transportation of lumber even when the rivers froze.

By the beginning of the twentieth century logging in Wisconsin started to decline. It was partly due to many forests having been cleared and never replanted, and the Pacific Northwest drawing businesses away. To this day though, Wisconsin is still one of the nation’s largest paper producers.


Landon Sheely – La Crosse, WI

“I grew up in a town speckled with the large homes of lumber barons along the Mississippi River. Driving the great river road visiting small towns that were built off of the lumber industry is still a favorite pastime of mine. Even though the lumber and paper industry is young compared to the river, it has still done a lot to shape her in our minds, and because of that, I have always found it interesting.”

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