Camp Five Farmstead

Also known as: Camp Five Farm, Camp Five Logging Camp
5466 Connor Farm Rd., Laona, Wisconsin

Open air museum that can be reached only by steam railroad

Photos 

Pulling Into the Station

The 2-6-2 locomotive was built in 1926 for the logging operations. It's now an attraction for Laona.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in July 2015

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Map 

Description 

When logging was the primary industry in northern Wisconsin (late 19th - early 20th Centuries) the logging was all done in the winter. The ground was frozen and logs could be moved without slogging down in the mud that would happen during Spring and Summer. A camp would spring up until the area was fully logged out, then over the summer, the camp would be relocated, anywhere from four to ten miles further away, in the next stand of lumber. Camps were sometimes named but often just numbered.

Often a town would spring up around the camp but die off as soon as the camp was moved. Some survived, Laona is an example. In Laona's case, the Connor Family built a successful sawmill here, which is still in operation. When Camp 5 was logged out and moved on to Camp 6, a farm sprang up so the company could supply the camps with meat and vegetables for lumberjacks with voracious appetites.

Descendents of the family that started it all decided to preserve the old lumber camp and farm, and formed a foundation to operate and preserve Camp 5. It's on the National Register of Historic Places, and you'll find the historic farm (some of it still operational) and a logging museum as part of the old logging camp. Special events are held throughout the season (check the website for schedules) and it is all very educational while being fun!

There's a guided tour of a managed forest that shows you how modern logging operations differ from the clear-cut-and-move-on method of logging from the 19th Century. You'll find displays of stump pullers, skids, water tanks and other logging equipment from the past. Check out the retired, heavy equipment and a Wisconsin Central switch engine that you can enter. Kids will enjoy the petting zoo, although the managed forest tour might not hold the attention of youth who haven't learned about the history of logging in Wisconsin. Be sure to visit the operating blacksmith shop!

There's only one way to enter the museum, and that's by steam train! Climb aboard the Laona and Northern Railway for the three mile ride to the museum. You can sit in an open-air observation car behind the locomotive, or opt for riding in an antique passenger car or a caboose. (Yes, you can ride in the cupola.)

The season runs from mid June to almost Labor Day each season, plus some Fall dates. Check ahead. A flyer with coupons is available at most hotels and tourist info kiosks in a 50 mile radius. There is a gift shop and lunch is available with a limited menu (freshly grilled burgers, brats and hot dogs) at prices you might expect in a captive situation. All in all, it's a fun couple of hours for the family. (Don't tell the kids they'll be learning something!)

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on January 11, 1996
Reference number
95001506
Architectural style
Late 19th and 20th Century Revival
Area of significance
Industry
Level of significance
Local
Evaluation criteria
A - Event
Property type
Building
Historic functions
Agricultural outbuildings; Animal facility; Processing; Single dwelling; Secondary structure
Current functions
Museum; Agricultural outbuildings; Animal facility
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1925-1949
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 112
Non-contributing buildings: 10

Update Log 

  • August 3, 2015: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated Status, Added Description and Added Photos

Sources