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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Minertown site map

Minertown - Oneva
State Trunk Highway 32, Town of Wabeno, Forest County

Minertown (also known as Oneva) was established in 1899, soon after the Chicago & NorthWestern Railroad expanded into Forest County. Brothers Wilbur (also know as William) and Henry T. Miner from Vernon County, Wisconsin, assisted by their sister Mary, purchased a 4000 acre tract of land covered with hardwoods from the railroad and began constructing a sawmill. The initial settlement also included a boarding house and company store and, over the next several years, the town grew to include a planing mill, roundhouse, depot, store, a blacksmith shop, a cook shanty, several small four-room houses, and a barn. Many of the original settlers to the community came with the Miners from the Kickapoo Valley, Vernon County; while many of the others were from Kentucky.

From ca. 1901, when the mills began working in earnest, to 1922, when the Oconto Company acquired the facility, the mills produced saw-lumber for at least one company, the Menasha Woodenware Company. Nine years later, on June 11, 1931, a fire attributed to a carelessly discarded cigarette destroyed the mill. Mill workers from Minertown and Carter subsequently moved away, finding work with other lumber companies and by 1939 the town was abandoned.

Some of the most significant cultural resources in the Great Lakes region are related to the extraction and processing of timber resources. Archival documents, company records, and historical accounts document the development of the lumber industry and the lives and successes of the wealthy and powerful individuals in the industry. Other than limited information derived from individuals who resided in Minertown as young children, the archaeological record is the only remaining source of information regarding the life-ways of the laborers who were the life force of the industry.

The Minertown site, with its excellent archaeological integrity, can provide data about the lifeways of the historic logging community. The site also has the potential to provide insight into the dynamics of the lumber industry, as new technologies were incorporated into the production system. Finally, analysis of the community plan may provide information relevant to our further understanding of "company towns" and how they developed and operated. Specifically, it may provide insight into how the Miners structured development of the community for functional and economic purposes, as well as settlement behavior associated with the growing and mixed ethnic community as it relates to the social history of the region.

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