Ashland has a very interesting history, and there’s no better place to learn about it than our Ashland Historical Museum at 216 Main St W, Ashland, WI 54806.
The archives offer loads of documents, photos, and resources about the city’s history and current-day facts. Entrance is free, and so are answers. One of the many volunteers are there to help as best they can to help you find what you’re looking for.
WWI memorabilia is a favorite of visitors, as is the diorama of the lumber industry. You can learn about the iron ore and lumber industries, ore-docks, ore-punchers, the pulp-hoist, and other icons of Ashland’s past.
Here are a few tidbits we discovered:
Wisconsin Central Railroad connected Milwaukee to Ashland/Lake Superior, and the bridge that crossed the White River was the largest bridge of its kind in the country in 1877. This was an amazing feat of construction for that time period. The bridge was the largest iron trestle bridge in the world, except for one in South America. The railroad line was 450 miles long and took five years to finish.
The iron ore deposits discovered in our part of the state opened the area for new settlers and led to the development of the timber industry and tourism. Western Central Railroad owned the only hotel, and first-class passenger train depot in Ashland back then. There was an iron ore dock for loading and delivering raw materials to the steel factories in neighboring states that sat where the Ashland Marina now stands.
This one is real estate related: Sears and Roebuck sold pre-cut house kits from their catalog for many years, and one of those homes is still standing across from Shore’s Hill. The red barn at Hauser orchard came from Sears, as well as the Protestant parsonage on Madeline Island.
Furthering your historical knowledge, the Town of Jacobs was named after William H. Jacobs, a German immigrant to Wisconsin, who served as the colonel of the 26th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War and as a member of the Wisconsin State Senate from 1876 to 1878.
Those are just examples of what you can dig up at the Historical Museum, and with the help of the staff and volunteers there. The old photographs are especially insightful. They’ll take you back to the “pioneer” days when steamer trains were the latest in transportation technology.
It was thanks to the bridge we mentioned earlier that the rest of the state had access to all of our natural resources, including Lake Superior. Tourism wasn’t really an industry back in those times, so having out-of-towners was a new concept, as was profiting from their visit.
We’re grateful for these records, and all of the people who contributed to them during their lives, and the upkeep of them for our local history. It’s fun to learn how things were back in the days before we paid attention.
Keep in mind that we’re here to help you find and make your slice of Ashland history. Call us at (715) 682-7337, or stop by and see us at 112 Vaughn Ave, Ashland, Wisconsin 54806.