The Story of Wagon Wheel Island

At the turn of the century (late 1800’s and early 1900’s), people loved to travel to Northern Wisconsin. They hunted and fished the East and West Fork of the Chippewa River as well as the natural lakes; lakes that eventually ended up forming the Chippewa Flowage. It was common practice for visitors to hire Native Americans to guide them hunting and fishing the area. The journey North was a long one, and visitors would travel by train to Park Falls. Once in Park Falls, they were picked up by buck board (wagon) and transported along the Chippewa Trail. The Chippewa Trail ran alongside the Chippewa River and wound through “Post” (now Old Post), past various hunting and fishing camps, past Crane Lake on through Round Lake and into Hayward. One of the places they would have passed was Lessard’s Livery (this is marked on the map from 1912, as ‘Paul Lessard’). Lessard’s Livery housed people and their animals as they were passing through the area; “a bed and breakfast for people and their horses” as Oscar Treland called it. Many also travelled this trail to get to Billy DeBrot’s Fishing and Hunting Camp, as Billy ran one of the more popular ones. He was very highly respected and loved by all. His camp at this time would have been located just East of Willow Island, on the Northeast side of Post. With the formation of the Chippewa Flowage the Chippewa Trail was essentially gone…. Which brings us to Wagon Wheel Island. Nothing spectacular happened on Wagon Wheel Island that we know of, but it’s a marker of a time long gone, when people followed the river trail in their buck board wagon. We don’t know who and we don’t know when, but an old wagon wheel was found wedged in a rut, and put up in a tree as a marker. So the next time you go to wagon wheel, look up, find the wagon wheel and imagine the old highway!