The Summer here in Bessemer has been wonderful but with a lot of rain. Hot and muggy days now in August. The Season
here at the Center started with Memorial Day and has been busy ever since with a large group of people visiting and exploring our
center around the 7 days of the 4th of July festival. We have lots of request by people searching their ancestry, and try very hard to
help with their questions and direct them to sources we have available here from old City Records to mining and school history.
We had a terrible storm in July that took away parts of the Saxon Harbor in Wisconsin and a part of a cliff fell at the entrance
to the lake Superior beach area at Black River Harbor where we all had bonfires and swimming adventures The Harbor has been
cleaned up and the beach remains open. It will be quite a while before they can reopen Saxon Harbor because of the severe damage
to roads and the harbor itself. Also a tornedo touched down in South Bessemer during that storm and many trees were uprooted
throughout the area.
Here at the Center we hope to be getting our Logger statue a permanent base. And we did some work cleaning up around
the old train turn-table near the new non-motorized trail that will extend from Ironwood in to Bessemer scheduled to be finished in
September and will continue on to the Wakefield area next year. That said Board member Jim Rouse wrote the following history of
one such train in the area.
This was a rail yard between Ironwood and Bessemer which was constructed as soon as the Milwaukee, Lake Shore
and Western Railroad was built in 1884. Both Soo Line and Chicago & North Western (MLS&W) tracks ran parallel through
here which is where the C&NW made up ore trains to haul to Ashland. In the earliest years the C&NW railroad's coal
storage sheds were here. The Soo passed through here on the north side with just a siding and two crossover tracks
connecting to the C&NW. The easiest access (after the snow is gone) is to turn south off US-2 onto Puritan Road which is
just a little west of Bessemer across from the big skier at Powderhorn Road. A short way down Puritan Road will take you
to the C&NW grade which is now a snowmobile trail. Turn right onto the grade and in the distance you will see the truss
bridge crossing over the grade. This will be the Soo Line overhead crossing and Siemens is just beyond this bridge and
extends west almost up to the transfer station on US-2.
The bridge is a 126' long Baltimore truss on sandstone abutments built in 1896 and is in good shape. A quarter mile
west of the bridge a line can be seen spurring SW off the C&NW going to the Ironton Mine. This is also the east leg of a
wye and was a double track. The west leg going SE a little further on was called the Davis or New Davis Mine Spur. Both
lines came together to make the wye and then veered off SE and went to the mines. South of the switch for the west leg
was the so-called original “settlement” of Siemens as shown on an 1887 map. I doubt much was ever here, but a sawmill
was once operating at Siemens and perhaps it may have been in this vicinity.
Another possibility is that the sawmill was over by the creek to the west since the old mills would usually dam up a stream
for their hot pond to clean up the logs before the debarker days. Siemens was named after the Siemen brothers, the
sawmill owners. Roughly 400' west of the switch for the east wye leg, on the south side and inside the wye, was the depot.
(Most likely a boxcar body with a platform in front of it.) In later years there was a small tool house about 50' west of the
depot location and another one was to the north of the depot across the tracks. There were multiple sidings all through this
area and you can see the grade is quite wide along here. Continuing west you will come to the crossing of Siemens Creek.
At one time this was a 26' trestle, but it has since been replaced by a bridge for the snowmobiles. The transfer station is
just west of here.
700' back east of the creek crossing, a line spurred off to the SW going to the Newport Mine. It is still visible as a line of
trees passing through the low marsh. 814' down this line was an 18' bridge over Siemens Creek which is now out. Attached
to the west side of this bridge was an old pumping station which brought water up to a wooden water tank back between the
main and the spur. At 248' along the spur was a wooden box culvert and the water tank was located here. These water
tanks had to be replaced periodically since they didn't last much more than 20 years. I have record of a used one put up
here in July 1917 having come from Lac Du Flambeau and another one installed here in January 1931 on the previous
foundation. As locomotives got bigger over the years, their water capacity increased so the need for frequent water stops
decreased and a lot of the tanks were phased out.
Near the water tank on this spur was a coal house and the newer pump house was located here as well. The pump
house burned on August 20, 1941. Back onto the main on the north side, not far from the spur switch was a telephone
booth. About 250' east of the creek bridge on the main and to the north was the station agent's house and close west of
that was the telegraph office. The only original structures that remain anymore are the Soo Line crossover bridge and the
Soo Line bridge over Siemens Creek.
Apparently Siemens was pretty short-lived as a “settlement”. The depot is shown only on an 1893 Milwaukee, Lake
Shore & Western RR map and no subsequent maps show it. MLS&W was the original builder of the railroad which was
purchased by the C&NW in August of 1893. It's as though the railroad had hopes it might develop into a little town, but it
soon became nothing more than a rail yard.
Siemens is located in a low area and I can remember as a youngster in the fall I would come in search of the few
muskrats that made a living in the marsh here. The switch stands had kerosene burners atop them located inside a square
box with four colored glass lenses being red and green on opposite sides. These boxes turned as the switch was operated
and the lamps were lighted to tell the engineer the switch position. They were very convenient for me to warm my cold wet
hands over after having them in the icy water.
On the oldest MLS&W map from when the line was built, the Newport Spur is called the Bonnie Spur; the New Davis
Spur is called the 1st National Spur and the Ironton Spur is called the Tontine Spur. The Soo Line crossover bridge is not
shown at all, since the Soo Line (originally built as the Gogebic and Montreal River Railway) was built in 1887.