Beef Slough

State Highway 35 just north of Alma, Wisconsin

A slow moving backwater of the Chippewa River that was the location of a major 19th Century logging operation.

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Photo taken by J.R. Manning in June 2012

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Description 

The reason for the name, Beef Slough, is lost to history although it is suggested that it had something to do with remains that were dumped into the river. The reason for Beef Slough is not so vague. At one time, it was a major staging area for logs that came down the Chippewa River from several logging companies upriver. (Beef Slough is part of the of the mouth of the Chippewa River.)

Millions upon millions of board feet of lumber, in the form of logs, were bound together here over the years in rafts to sail down the Mississippi River from this location to saw mills.

The company that built the rafts was incorporated in 1868 as the "Beef Slough Manufacturing, Booming, Log Driving & Transportation Company" but was usually referred to as the "Beef Slough Company." The logging business was very competitive, and the logging companies up north saw the Beef Slough Company as a threat to their business. The loggers up river used delaying tactics to keep the Beef Slough Company logs from making it downriver to the slough. The investors had tied up most of their capital in building the Beef Slough infrastructure and the delaying tactics resulted in a cash flow crunch.

The result was something called the Beef Slough War, when the Beef Slough Company sent 100 men to Eau Claire to break the jam and send their logs downriver. (It wasn't much of a war since no one was armed.) Before it was over, several men were arrested. An uneasy truce was arranged, which led the Beef Slough Company seeking aid from Frederick Weyerhauser. His purchase of the Beef Slough Company began a new era in logging.

The lumbermen came to an agreement where logs were shared on a percentage basis. In 1890, Wisconsin passed a tax on logs that were rafted, so Weyerhauser moved his operation from Beef Slough across the river to Minnesota. Within a few years, however, the Wisconsin pine stands were logged out and Weyerhauser moved west.

Update Log 

  • June 24, 2012: Added by J.R. Manning

Sources 

  • J.R. Manning - thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net