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History of Lugerville

We thank the Luger Family and Luger Funiture Co. for sharing their History of Lugerville. View the complete article at lugerfurniture.com

In 1903, an enterprising young man, Robert Luger, acting as a scout of sorts for the Luger Furniture Company, set off for northern Wisconsin in search of tracts of forested lands which could be harvested to satisfy the growing needs of the family's successful furniture company. He, along with some other men in his party, traveled along the North Fork of the Flambeau River and bore witness to great expanses of hardwoods, pines and hemlock. Luger liked what he saw and sent word back to his father Frank and uncles John and Louis. In short order, forty-acres were acquired by the Lugers and by 1904 a site had been cleared along the river for a sawmill. This first mill was constructed in 1904 solely to cut logs into lumber which was then used to construct an even larger commercial steam-powered mill on the banks of the Flambeau River. The larger mill was operational by 1905.

Pine trees in the area were cut and floated down the Flambeau to the mill. In the winter months, felled pines close to the mill were transported by horse-drawn sleds. The first year, heavy wagons would haul the finished lumber over a primative road to Phillips--a long and difficult trip. But soon access to the sawmill would be greatly improved with the construction of a rail spur directly to the mill by the Wisconsin Central Railroad. A "wye" was constructed at the mill enabling the locomotive to turn around. From that point on, all finished lumber was shipped out by rail. The Mill purchased its own locomotive to bring the carloads of lumber to the mainline, a distance of four and a half miles, and would later acquire a second locomotive to haul wood to the mill from additional rail spurs bubilt into the wooded land.

With milling operations running at full capacity, the Lugers constructed eight frame company houses to house their mill workers and families, and the Lugerville settlement became official. Three other homes were privately constructed in 1906. A company store was constructed, a cook's shanty for meals, a bunkhouse with private rooms and then a barracks-like bunkhouse. The workers were paid with coupons which could be redeemed at the company store. The company store had practically everything one could need at the time, which was important given how isolated the workers were--it was a long trek to Phillips!

By 1909, with most of the sought after Pine trees cut, the Lugers sold their interest in Lugerville to the John R. Davis Lumber Company, who had operated a sawmill in Phillips until it burned to the ground. The sale to Davis was official in January of 1910, however Robert Luger was asked to stay on as the mill's general manager. It is unknown how long Mr. Luger remained at the helm, perhaps just a few months as the 1910 Census indicates he was living in Minneapolis. Davis invested heavily to expand the sawmill's production capacity, which topped out at 100,000 board-feet of lumber per day. By 1912, Davis was running the mill two shifts per day, however due to the struggling national economy and the depressed lumber market, the mill was forced into receivership. The receivers sold Davis' holdings in Phillips and Lugerville in August of 1912 to David Kneeland and Percy McLurg. Two years later a George West bought into the operation which then became know as the Kneeland West Lumber Company.

The settlement of Lugerville incorporated on June 17, 1914, and the mill regained steady operation and high production, harvesting the hardwoods that remained in the area. During this time another 14 or 15 homes were added to the settlement. On October 25, 1915, a fire started in the lumberyard which spread out of control. Before it was extinguished, as much as 5,000,000 of the 12,000,000 board feet of lumber on hand was lost. Thankfully, the loss was covered by insurance and one week later the mill was back in business. On December 1, 1915, the company reorganized under the name West Lumber Company. The week following, partner David Kneeland died rather unexpectedly. In 1917, despite the country entering World War I, business at the mill remained good and another 20 homes for the workers were constructed.

From 1914 through 1919, when the mill was at its peak production, the Lugerville population had swelled to 450 residents with the mill company owning more than 50 homes. In 1920, the Town of Flambeau was incorporated, absorbing with it the Lugerville settlement. The mill continued operating until 1933, the year the last log was sawn at Lugerville. By 1936, the mill and all its many buildings had been dismantled and the rail lines removed.

Lugerville is located in the town of Flambeau, Price County, Wisconsin, eleven miles northwest of the city of Phillips.
The town of Flambeau is eleven miles northwest of the city of Phillips, Wisconsin, the county seat of Price County.

View the complete article at Luger Furniture: www.lugerfurniture.com


Excerpt from "Lumbermen on the Chippewa" by Malcolm Rosholt. pages 253 and 254 which make reference to Luger, Lugerville, West Lumber Co., Mr. Lowe, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Bodenburg.

" ... Boyington & Atwell Company of Stevens Point was sawing hemlock in the late 1880s and early 1890s.
... [there was] a branch line off the Wisconsin Central running northwest from Luger Junction to Lugerville, with short spurs out of Lugerville into the timber, actually Camps 6 and 7 in Flambeau township of Price County. This sawmill community was founded in 1904 by Louis & William Luger who came from Minnesota to build a mill on the east bank of the south fork of the Flambeau River. They picked a spot well suited for sawmill operations directly below Little Bull Rapids, although these rapids are not as well known today as Little Carry and Rocky Carry Rapids located a short distance upstream.
In 1909 the big sawmill at Phillips burned, and the Davis company took over the sawmill of the Luger brothers at Lugerville. The mill was remodeled for greater efficiency, and green lumber was shipped by train to Phillips to be planed and dried. But production declined and in 1912, Davis conveyed the mill at Lugerville and all his mill properties, planing mill, dry kilns, machine shops and yards at Phillips, to Davis Kneeland and Percy McClurg, two out of state lumbermen who moved to Phillips.
A new sawmill at Phillips was begun in the summer of 1910 but construction was delayed by Davis. It was finally   completed in February 1913, presumably under new management, and, in order to keep the Phillips mill supplied with logs, new camps were opened as far east as the Willow River in Oneida County (northwest of Rhinelander).
In 1914, George A. West and partners of Milwaukee acquired the Kneeland-McClurg mill at Lugerville and began operations under the firm name of West Lumber Company. The company sawed until about 1933, and Volume I of Corporations (p. 191) for Price County shows that the company was dissolved December 24, 1935. James T. Drought was president, and George A. West, secretary, at the time of dissolution. George Heckman was also a member of the firm.
After 1914, Lowrie Lowe was mill superintendent and Herman J. Johnson was manager of the West Lumber Company. [We believe that the Manager was actually Herman W. Jahannes, not Herman J. Johnson]
In the 1920s Roy Bodenburg was head sawyer on the night shift.




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