Our Rich History
by resident historians
1886 The Wisconsin Central Railroad buys part of Samuel O'Grady
homestead, which he named Iron City. A boxcar is placed at the junction of
Penokee and Central Railroads, which had newly
connected the Gogebic Range with the Ashland shipping docks.
1888 - Iron City is renamed Mellen in honor of William Solon Mellen, the
manager of the Wisconsin Central Railroad.
Mellen builds its first school on West Street.
Late 1800's - The Main Street building that now houses the Iron City
was erected to house a tailor's shop, and then a shoemaker's shop.
1896 - Fayette Shaw (of Boston, MA) builds 5 tanneries in Wisconsin. The
and most productive tannery in North America is built in Mellen. The Mellen
Hall building is constructed.
1898 - George Foster (of Wausau, WI) purchases from Shaw the sawmill that
built to provide lumber during the construction of the tannery complex.
quickly becomes a major player in the lumber industry of the north.
1901 - The Mellen Weekly Record Newspaper is first published by James Pratt.
& Sandy Christl still publish every week.
1903 - The telephone connects Mellen with Ashland. Mellen gets its first
the Mellen State Bank, housed in Mellen's first brownstone building. This
building can be seen on Bennett Street across from the Post Office. This
served as Mellen's financial district for the next 16 years.
1905 - The Lockhart building, which houses the Mellen Weekly Record, is
on Bennett Street. 1907 - Mellen votes to become a city. A.J. Sullivan, a
businessman, is the first mayor. Mellen's fire and police departments are
A veneer plant is built in west Mellen. Today, Columbia Forest Products
veneer on the same site. A fire destroys south Bennett Street. The new
buildings erected after this fire still serve Mellen's downtown.
1910 - The school built in 1897 burns to the ground. A new brick school
built on the same site. Circa 1910 - Most buildings on the east side of
Street are constructed to house local businesses. Northland Foods grocery
occupies the building that the Block family constructed to house one of
first grocery stores.
1920 - The largest census in Mellen history was taken: 1,981.
1922 - The tannery closes. The Northern State Bank Building is
on Main Street.
1927 - The Legion Memorial Library is created in City Hall.
1940s- Soo Line Operations recreations by George Roen the grandson of one
Mellens first Depo Agents, IB Roen
1945 - Mellen loses 24 soldiers in World War II.
1946 - Mellen Flood
1947 - Veneer mill supplys birch for SPRUCE GOOSE Howard Hughes flew the
Spruce Goose only once (it wasn't spruce, by the way--it was mostly made out
birch). By far the biggest airplane ever built, the H-4, also known as the
Hercules, had a wingspan of 320 feet--20 feet longer than a football field.
had enough cargo space to carry two railroad boxcars. It had eight massive
engines with 17-foot propellers. It weighed 300,000 pounds. And it was made
1962 - Hollywood Movie Filmed Here::Ernest Hemingway's Adventures of a
Best Picture - Drama (nom) - - 1962 Golden Globe
Best Actress - Drama (nom) - Susan Strasberg - 1962 Golden Globe
Best Supporting Actor (nom) - Paul Newman - 1962 Golden Globe
Best Supporting Actress (nom) - Jessica Tandy - 1962 Golden Globe
Best Director (nom) - Martin Ritt - 1962 Golden Globe
1950s - Main Street & Bennett Street
1967 - Mellen lost two local men in Viet Nam War.
1967 - Local Star Scores 54 points in Basketball Game, BOB
the three point rule.
1970 - High School Baseball team loses first conferance game in 14 years
ending one of states longest winning streaks.
1986 - Mellen celebrates its centennial.
2005 - "WHAT A STORM" Mellenites are calling it the
storm ever to hit in such a short time span. 28 inches was the official
snow fall that day.
2008 - The Story of Edgar Sawtelle novel.
Author David Wroblewski along with the Oprah Winfrey's production crew were
Mellen filming the area described in his book. It was aired on Oprahs Live
cam interview with David.
2010 -> All School
4th of July weekend old classmates, friends, teachers past and present
for this special four day event.
On Sept. 16, Mellen became Wisconsins first "Trail Town".
This honor was presented to Mellen by the North Country Trail
Association which recognizes a community through which the trail passes and
accomodates hikers and other trail users. Mayor Joe Barabe accepted two
markers identifying Mellen as a Trail Town.
The North Country Trail runs
North Dakota to New York, a distance of 4600 miles.
Congratulations to Terry Peters Logging
Development Association recently named Terry Peters Logging as "Business of
With Irene (Levelius) Buzzell Artist.