Mason Area Historical Society
Mason Area Historical Society (MAHS)
The MAHS maintains the Mason Depot Museum which also includes a historic log cabin from the 1800s and a children’s playhouse from the early 1900s. The Depot Museum is free and open Sunday afternoons in the summer months. Appointments for special viewing can also be made by calling 715-765-4554. We also sponsor community activities each year, provide researchers with a historical archive, and publish a historical newsletter. It is our charter and passion to preserve local history and the heritage of the people who live and have lived in the Mason area.
Mason, WI is the smallest incorporated Village in Wisconsin, is located in east central Bayfield County at the intersection of US Hwy 63 and County E. Mason was established by the White River Lumber Company as a company town in 1883. When it started, the Town of Mason, was one of four Towns in Bayfield County and contained 8 ¾ Townships. By 1924 Mason was down to just one Township and in 1925 the Village of Mason was incorporated as its own entity. The Mason Area Historical Society was established in 1991 and has been seeking out and collecting, recording and sharing local history for the general area of the original 8 ¾ Townships ever since. During this time, we have rescued the old 1913 Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha railroad depot and restored it to become the Mason Depot Museum. We have also rescued and restored two other buildings now located on the Museum grounds.
The Mason Area Historical Society has accumulated well over 2,000 local history artifacts and about 100 family histories and other local history documents for our Depot Museum. Our photograph collection has several thousand historical pictures of local Mason area people and places. We have regular monthly meetings to plan and execute projects to promote the preservation and dissemination of local history. We have over 250 members total from across the country. We publish a historic newsletter at least three times each year and have many other activities that promote the preservation and dissemination of local history.
The White River Lumber Company Mill that spawned Mason as a settlement was located on the south bank of the White River. That mill burned to the ground in 1894 and was immediately rebuilt into what was stated to be the largest Sawmill east of the Mississippi river. In 1905 the original owners of “the Mill” at Mason (John Humbird) sold the mill, village and timberland holdings to Edward Hines who was a Chicago Lumberman. In 1913 the mill was closed and within two years the cut lumber in the drying yard and mill machinery was sold and the rest of the old mill structure scavenged for its lumber. Mason became a local agricultural center after 1914. The railroad was pulled up in 1978.
There are three distinct periods in Mason’s history. That of the land and the indigenous people, that of the logging of the virgin timber and that of the pioneer farmer families and the agriculture communities they built. Little is recorded of the land and local peoples before the coming of the logging industry. More is known about the mill and lumbering period but there is a lot that is still unknown. The agricultural period, which is still with us, has more documented information but it is scattered and needs to be collated to present the history story. The MAHS membership and our guests are encouraged to seek out information and continue to fill in the gaps for both the history of the area and the heritage of the people who came to live and work here. The support and research effort to organize, protect, display and share what is known is our passion. To find answers and new artifacts to fill in information gaps is our very active pursuit through individual member and society projects. We are delighted to get to know people who have roots in the Mason area and/or who are interested in our local history.
Caretakers and preservers of History and Heritage for Mason, Wisconsin
Museum physical address:
24380 County HWY E,
Mason, WI 54856
The Mason Area Historical Society mailing address is: PO Box 134, Mason, WI 54856
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