The Railroad Years


The Railroad Years

Star Lake is a railroad buff’s dream. The railroad began with the logging era- when the mill and logging companies installed miles upon miles of track in order to transport logs and lumber from the area.

The railroad stayed on after the loggers left and thus helped the community evolve to the rustic hunting-fishing resort area that it still is today. The "Fisherman’s Special" delivered hundreds upon hundreds of visitors each season to stay in Star Lake’s exclusive resort, "Hotel Waldheim" and take advantage of fishing on a multitude of pristine lakes. The Hotel Waldheim, now known as Hintz's North Star Lodge, is still in business today.

In 1936, the Milwaukee Road introduced the famous "Northwoods Hiawatha" to Star Lake. As strange as it sounds, Star Lake, with a population of 100 or less people, was the “end of the line” and had the Hiawatha train rolling in and out of its’ depot every day during the summer season. The Hiawatha transported people from the hot and humid weather of Chicago and Milwaukee to Star Lake, for a quick getaway to cool down and spend their time hunting and fishing in true northwoods spirit.

In 1943, the famous "Northwoods Hiawatha" and other passenger trains was pulled out of Star Lake. The depot and tracks were dismantled; the train cars moved on to another area, and Star Lake became a ghost town all over again. The train left remnants too - just as the loggers did. Still to this day you can find artifacts along the shores and backwoods of Star Lake. Likewise, a number of current residents in Star Lake are related to railroad employees from years past. When the train pulled out, several of the railroad employees bought property in the area and built summer homes out of old rail road cars. Some of these homes still stand today and are owned by the railroad employee’s families- several of who proudly display Hiawatha memorabilia and innumerable railroad antiques (such as uniforms, tickets, hats, and large original Hiawatha logos, etc...) throughout their homes. Star Lake truly is a railroad buff’s dream.

Try the

Railroad Photos

Star Lake is stuck in time.

Star Lake is a quaint community located in the heart of the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest in the upper most part of Wisconsin. The area contains very little private land and thus is protected from encroaching development.

Oddly enough, Star Lake is still much the same today as it was after the Milltown moved out in 1907. The only real differences – the houses and railroad are gone, the trees have grown back and our historic bait shop is closed for business.

Support FOSL

Consider making a donation to the Friends of Star Lake

We are thrilled to be able to help preserve Star Lake’s rich history. The Schoolhouse, Bait Shop and Old Milltown Depot have all been labors of love. And, the more we work on these projects, the more excited we become.

Please let us know if you or your family members are interested in helping us fund the Old Milltown Depot or our college scholarship program. The entire Board is incredibly grateful for the community’s support and helping us preserve what is so special about Star Lake.