Mason Area History

The Mason area was settled in the early 1880s when the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis, & Omaha (C, St. P, M, & O) Railway was built through the area.  Prior to the railroad, this area was a hunting ground for the local Native American Ojibwa people.  The Ojibwa (also called Chippewa) also used the White River for transportation and fishing.

John Alexander Humbird was instrumental in bringing the C, St. P, M, & O Railway to northern Wisconsin.  He built a saw mill on the White River in Mason and founded the town in about 1882.  John A. Humbird and his son, Thomas (TJ) Humbird ran the White River Lumber Company and the town of Mason until 1904. The area was rich with white pine which was cut and floated down the river to the mill. The White River Lumber Co. was sold to the Edward Hines Company, which ran the mill until 1914, when it closed because most of the trees were gone.

After 1914, the population of the Mason area decreased from about 2,000 to about 200.  Many people left to find work elsewhere.  Some went to Sand Point, Idaho where the Humbirds started another mill and lumbering was prospering. The cut-over land was sold to families to farm.  Many small family dairy farms were in the area until the 1960s.  The Village of Mason was incorporated in 1925 separate from the Township of Mason.  The Mason area now generally includes all or parts of the Village of Mason, Town of Kelly, Town of Mason, Town of Lincoln, and Town of Delta.

During the logging days, Mason supported many businesses.  There were many boarding houses for the mill workers and loggers, a store, hotel, garages, lumber yard, feed mill, creamery, barber shop, livery stable, bank, land office, and shoe store.  The Mason School was built in 1904.  There were two churches, a post office, and a Town Hall.  A Modern Woodman building was the site of many meetings and dances. There even was a movie theater and a bowling alley for a time.

After the logging days, the Mason area has settled into a peaceful, rural community.  Some people farm or work in the woods providing pulp logs.  Some are self-employed or work in Ashland or other nearby communities.  Tourism has become an important industry.  There are large forests again and clean lakes and streams, so the wildlife is abundant. Mason's White River flows through the Bibon Swamp and into Bad River which empties into Lake Superior. Now the Village of Mason has a population of 79 and is proud to be the smallest incorporated village in the state of Wisconsin.