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Highlights Archives

Life and Lumbering in a Small Wisconsin Town

A log driving crew on the river in five batteaux, Chippewa Falls, circa 1900
WHI 2208

A remarkable collection of newly digitized historical photographs by Alfred A. Bish documents life in turn-of-the-20th-century Chippewa Falls, with particular attention to the area's lumbering industry and the landscape of the region. Additional photos in the collection depict the area's many mills and factories along with area residents posing for Bish's cameras in his studio.

Striking Images of Lumbering Activities

Bish came to Chippewa Falls in 1887, probably from his home state of Indiana. The city, which had a population of about 12,000 in 1900, is located on the Chippewa River in heavily wooded northern Wisconsin. It owed its rapid growth and prosperity at this time to the then-thriving lumbering industry. Bish quickly established his reputation as a photographer with his striking images of lumbering activities, as well as other local businesses and the northern Wisconsin landscape.

In 1894 Bish expanded his photographic activities by opening his own photography studio on Central Street, developing a successful portrait business. He became respected as a prominent local citizen and the proprietor of what the Chippewa Times in 1900 called "one of the best businesses of its kind in northern Wisconsin."

The Bish Photo Collection Online

The Historical Society's collection contains 335 photos by Bish, including glass plates and original prints, with 150 of the images now online.

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