Lumbering on the Black River at Onalaska, Wisconsin, 1852-1902
Johnson, Dorothy Sagen
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In the last half of the nineteenth century, the area of West Central Wisconsin became synonymous with logging and the lumber industry. As the forests of this region were being exploited to their fullest, men and women poured into the regions along the rivers which served as highways to the pineries. One of the main centers of activity was an area which encompassed the point at which the Black River joins the Mississippi. At this point, settlers established two rival settlements within two years of each other. One of the cities, La Crosse, became famous as a lumber town; the other, Onalaska, became a "boom town", but never was able to rival her competitor in population or economic growth. The story of La Crosse and her lumbering history has often been related in papers and theses, but the history of Onalaska has been only half told in various civic directories, short newspaper articles, and centennial brochures. Since local history has long fascinated me, and since I am now a resident of Onalaska, I decided to explore Onalaska's early history as a subject for my seminar paper. It soon became evident that Onalaska history was also going to be a history of lumbering on the Black River, since that industry was the reason Onalaska was established. The purpose of this paper, then, is to recount briefly the history of lumbering along the lower Black River, and to describe its effect upon Onalaska from 1852 through 1902. By reading old newspapers, city and county records, and various printed materials concerning the subject and area in question, I believe that I have been able to compile a paper which is both interesting and informative, and academically acceptable as a research project.
Onalaska (Wis.) -- History
Lumbering -- Wisconsin -- Onalaska -- History
Black River Valley (Taylor County-La Crosse County, Wis.) -- History