Station: Ironwood, MI

WC Ironwood DepotCNW Locomotive in Blizzard at IronwoodIronwood Street Railway SnowplowCNW Ironwood DepotCNW Ironwood DepotIronwood was settled in 1885 as a commercial center around a number of iron ore mines. It became a village in 1887 and a city in 1889. [MPN]

There were six major mines in Ironwood in 1891 including the Ashland, Aurora, East Norrie, Newport, Norrie and Pabst. The last mine closed in Ironwood in 1965. 

The Chicago & North Western railroad (formally the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western) built their depot here in 1892. The city had a street car line which ended at Giles, Wisconsin on the west and Bessemer on the east, including the neighboring cities of Hurley and Ironwood along the Montreal River.

Soo Line (WC) facilities included a register station and scales at this location. They had a yard, and a day/night operator in the depot in 1961. The depot was at MP 437.2.

Photo info/credit: Top, the Soo Line (WC) depot at Ironwood. 2nd photo, A snowbound doubleheader steam powered train in a blizzard in Ironwood in a postcard view. 3rd photo, a street railway plow in Ironwood. 4th photo, the C&NW (close) and Soo Line depot (far) in Ironwood. [Alan Loftis], 5th photo, the C&NW depot at Ironwood in 2003. [Dale Berry]

The Soo Line railroad had a water tower in Ironwood. [SOO-W/1996]

The C&NW Ironwood Station was built in 1895. It was a brick building in Romanesque style which consists of two buildings connected by a covered passenger platform. Both structures rest on sandstone foundations five feet high and have hipped rooms with overhanging eaves supported by wooden brackets. At the northeast end of the station there is a covered passenger platform 20' by 27'. The passenger station is 27' by 90' long with a tower-like two-story portion approximately 25' long. A second covered passenger platform, 27' wide by 25' long, and the brick baggage room 27' by 30' long. [UPM]

The C&NW roundhouse in Ironwood was on Curry Street and was built about 1900. [UPM]


Ironwood Timeline (including Bessemer and Wakefield):

1880 - Bessemer is settled after ore is discovered at the nearby Colby mine.

1884 - The Colby mine is sunk southwest of Bessemer, reaching a depth of 1,750 feet). It is closed in 1894.

1884 - The  Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western (MLS&W) railroad reaches Ironwood from Watersmeet. This company becomes the Chicago & Northwestern (C&NW) in 1893.

1884 - Wakefield is settled on the south side of Sunday Lake. Ramsey, southeast of Bessemer is also settled with a saw mill located there. The town was originally called Ironville. The Sunday Lake mine is established and ships for 77 years, closing in 1961.

1884 - The MLS&W builds a 1.8 mile branch line to the Colby mine. (Pulled up in 1887).

1885 - Ironwood is settled around several nearby mines. The Norrie and East Norrie Mines begin operations with production until 1935.

1885 - The MLS&W installs a 8 mile long branch from Wakefield north to Connorsville, mostly for logging purposes. They also build off this branch to the Sunday Lake Mine, and in 1890 to the Castile and Meteor mines. The line is cut back to Castile Mine in 1929 and abandoned/removed between Sunday Lake mine to Wakefield in 1959.

1885 - A 1.6 mile spur is built by the MLS&W from the main line to the Norrie Mine. This line also reaches the East Norrie Mine. They also build off this branch to the Pabst Mine, including the Aurora, and Vaughn mines.

1886 - The MLS&W builds a spur to the Peterson Mine. This line is extended 1/3 mile in 1950. They also build a spur to the Ironton Mine in 1886, and extended to the New Davis in 1890. This branch is removed in 1941.

1886 - The MLS&W builds a spur off the New Davis Mine spur to the Puritan Mine. They also build a mine off this spur to the Newport Mine.

1886 - The MLS&W builds a 2.3 mile spur from the Norrie Branch to the Newport Mine. The Newport Mine opens in 1886.

1887 - The Gogebic & Montreal River railroad (C&MR) builds into Gogebic County on their line from Mellen, Wisconsin through to Keweenaw Mine in Bessemer (via Ironwood). It becomes the Wisconsin Central (WC - original) in 1888, and in 1909 becomes the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie railroad, informally called the Soo Line (SOO).

1887 - The WC builds a 2.6 mile loop line from their main line (near the WI state line) towards the Norrie Mine, which has a number of mine spurs, including the Ashland Mine. The Ashland Mine was opened in 1901 and operated until 1926. The mine and town site was the second largest mine on the Gogebic range in 1902.

1887 - The WC also builds a 3.5 mile spur off their main line at Bessemer to the Palms Mine. They build a 1.9 mile spur off of the Palms Mine spur to the Colby Mine and a 1.4 mile "switchback" to handle the hilly terrain.

1890 - The MLS&W builds a spur from their main line to the Eureka Mine, about 1.1 miles long. The mine produces ore until 1950. It was north of Ramsey.

1893 - The MLS&W becomes the Chicago & Northwestern railroad.

1893 - The nationwide Panic of 1893 reduces iron ore sales and production for several years.

1895 - The C&NW builds a short spur to the Mikado Mine, using a switchback to climb the hilly area. This branch is removed in 1919.

1896 - The C&NW builds a spur to the Chicago mine, off the Connorsville spur. This spur is removed in 1915.

1897 - The WC builds a 1.1 mile spur to the Norrie Mine, a half mile spur to the Aurora Mine, and a half mile spur to the Pabst Mine.

1900 - The Meteor mine begins operation near Wakefield and produces until 1904.

1903 - The C&NW builds a spur from the Davis Mine spur to the Royal mine and the Geneva Mine.

1906 - The Castile Mine near Wakefield opens and ships ore until its closing in 1923.

1909 - The Wisconsin Central becomes the MStP&SSM, or Soo Line.

1911 - The C&NW builds a spur to the Asteroid Mine, from their main line. They remove the 1.6 mile spur to the Norrie Mine.

1914 - The C&NW builds a one mile spur to the Keweenaw Mine.

1916 - The C&NW installs a short branch line to the Plymouth Mine in Wakefield.

1917 - The C&NW builds a 1.4 mile branch line to the Wakefield Mine.

1918 - A spur is built by the C&NW to the Newport Mine, as well as a second spur to the same mine.

1918 - The C&NW adds a Belt Line from nearly Hurley WI east across the state line to a junction with the Soo Line. (removed in 1957). They also build the Anvil Mine spur from their main line to the Anvil Mine in 1918.

1918 - The C&NW builds a connection 4/10's of a mile in length, between the C&NW main line (at mp. 343.5 (0.2 miles east of Bessemer station) to the Soo Line.

1919 - The Pabst Mine spur is removed by the C&NW.

1945 - About half of the Connorsville branch is removed, with the remainder removed in 1974.

1950 - The C&NW spur to the Asteroid mine is removed.

1952 - The Wakefield mine spur and connections are removed, as well as the Plymouth mine spur.

1955 - The C&NW spur to the Eureka mine is removed.

1957, the Keweenaw Mine spur (C&NW) is removed.

1959 - The remainder of the Sunday Lake spur from Wakefield to the mine is removed. The New Davis mine spur is removed one year later.

1963 - The spurs to the Newport mine and Newport No. 2 mine are removed.

1965 - The Peterson Mine spur is removed, as well as the Puritan Mine and the Royal/Geneva mine spur.

1981 - The C&NW removes it remaining railroad lines from the Ironwood area.