The people who came here throughout the years, the Indians, the Spanish, French, Scandinavian, English and the Americans had on thing in common. They all say a land full of opportunities. About the time Columbus arrived in the New World, the Chippewa people came to the land they called Sha-ga-waun-il-ong. This term has been translated to mean "lowlands" or the "region of shallow water." Each version is descriptive and suitably accurate.

Two French fur traders, Pierre d'Esprit, le Sieur Radisson and Medard Chouart, le Sieur des Groseillers, were the first Europeans of record to visit Chequamegon Bay in 1659. They built what has been called the first European dwelling place in Wisconsin. A Historical marker is located a Maslowski Beach on west U.S. 2 in Ashland. The monument was erected in 1929 by the Old Settlers Club. The Chippewa heartily welcomed the settlers.graphic

Every city of importance owes the stability of its growth to commerce, either by railroads or water. There were many thriving commercial cities made by such railroads alone. There are others that owe their commercial importance to the advantage of some great harbor. Ashland was assured of success in either case, for it had both.

There were several oredocks on the waters of Chequamegon Bay back in the 1800s with the biggest one "The Soo Oredock," which still remains standing in Chequamegon Bay.Iit was the largest concrete structure of its kind and was completed in 1925. When the ore business was under full headway during the shipping season, there were at least 365 arrivals and departures of trains every day. This includes all passenger and freight trains, besides the numerous ore trains that thundered in and out every few minutes.

Ashland's location on one of the best protected fresh water harbors in the world was instrumental in its being chosen as the northern terminus of the Wisconsin Central Railroad.

In 1854, Asaph Whittlesey and another Ohioan named Kilborn set out from LaPoint to explore the head of the Chequamegon Bay. Whittlesey then built a 14-foot cabin in Ashland.

Ashland was incorporated as a city on March 25, 1887. By then the Wisconsin Central rail connected Ashland to Chicago. There were many sawmills, brownstone was being quarried and shipped and the Chequamegon Hotel was open for business.

As the city grew, construction of "The Union Depot" began in October of 1888, with it opening to the public for passenger and freight service in 1889. Northern Wisconsin Academy (Northland College) opened in 1892, a post office was built in 1894, Ashland High School opened its doors in 1904 and the first airport opened in 1929.


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