Gunflint & Lake Superior Railroad

Although not technically part of the P.A.D & W, the Gunflint and Lake Superior Railroad certainly played a key role in the usage of the PD for the period between 1902 and 1909. Lumber companies were drawn to this area by the huge stands old growth white pine and by the transport route provided by the PD.

This map shows the the route of the G & LS from the branch with the Duluth Extension to Crab Lake.

The Pigeon River Lumber Company was organized in 1900 in Wisconsin by Daniel J. Arpin, Frank Hixon, Herman Finger and William Scott. In the winter of 1902-03, it incorporated and built the Gunflint and Lake Superior Railroad. The company located their principal camp, Number Four, beside a bay at the eastern end of the lake. By the end of the first season, they had shipped some 800 cars of logs to their mill in Port Arthur.

In 1903, Arpinís company purchased their own 4-4-0 locomotive to haul their cuts to the railway terminus at North Lake. In 1905, they acquired a second engine, a Lima Shay locomotive specifically designed to work on logging lines. To collect duties on the imported logs, the Canadian Government established a Customs House across the boundary alongside the railway. Over the next several years, the Companyís operations would expand to see almost 200 men employed during the winter months at Camp Four.

By 1909, the Pigeon River Lumber Company was shipping a tremendous amount of wood from Gunflint Lake. In April of that year, newspapers were reporting that 130 cars of logs were coming into Port Arthur each week from Gunflint. The volume was so great that the Customs Officer, Peter Chausse, had collected nearly $300 dollars in duties. However, that would mark the last season for Camp Four. For reasons unknown, the Pigeon River Lumber Company closed their operation at Gunflint, leaving all rails and buildings behind. In June, a large forest fire swept across the area and destroyed the one thousand-foot trestle along the PD at North Lake, effectively severing all connection with Gunflint Lake.

Time has taken its toll, removing most traces of the railway, with the exception of a few rails. Nature has even claimed the mighty log trestle, which was used by the railroad to climb the ridge south of the lake. In 2007 the area was burned by the Ham Lake Fire, igniting a smoldering blaze inside the corduroyed logs. In March 2008 the US Forest Service was forced to dynamite the trestle to extinguish the fire.