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Stratford centennial
(1891-1991)

Before Stratford,   pp. 1-7


Page 3

as they could not be floated down the river to market. They
left behind large pine stumps which were later cleared by the
industrious farmers who changed the landscape to fertile
fields for agricultural pursuits.
The transformation from forest to farms was rapid. The
soil beneath the thick forests was thick and ideally suited for
agriculture. Lumberjacks worked in the woods during the
winter when snow was available to skid logs to logging
sleighs which were loaded and pulled to the river banks where
they were left to wait for the spring floods. When the snow
melted, the rivers became raging torrents and the logs were
rolled into the water to hurtle downstream.
Pine logs, which had a diameter of three to four feet, were
not uncommon and measured 12, 14, and 16 feet in length. It
was not unusual to scale some of the large logs at 1,000 to
1,200 board feet and the prices received by the settlers when
clearing their land would make a lumber buyer very happy
now. In 1889 the price paid for number one grade pine logs
which scaled 1,000 board feet was $3 per thousand. During
World War I it had gone to $105 and up.
Production from the mills was shipped to all parts of the
country with a large share of it going to the prairie states.
Hemlock was sawed into sheeting, two by fours, three by 12
road planks and heavy boards for sidewalk crossings. White
pine went into one inch and one and one-quarter inch shop
lumber. Furniture, beer barrel staves and sleigh runners were
made from white oak while red oak boards were shipped to
manufacturers of high grade furniture and pianos. Birdseye
maple was rare and commanded premium prices because of
the fancy bedroom furniture which was considered so stylish
at that time. The massive pianos of the nineties owed much
of their weight to the red oak.
Basswood, light in weight, was useful for box boards and
a limited supply went into the production of wooden shoes.
The lowly rated elms were burned to get them out of the way.
The common maples were also disposed of as nuisances.
They served the settlers mainly as firewood. The lesser
grades of timber were wasted but this same wood, if available
now, would have a high value.
Logging settlements sprang up along the Little Eau Pleine
River and the Big Eau Pleine River in the area surrounding the
present sight of Stratford.
For more in depth information on the settlement of Mara-
thon County see: Louis Marchetti's "History of Marathon
County, WI and Representative Citizens" which was pub-
lished in 1913.


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