This building was the original Booth Fisheries Office at the harbor. Note the office on the right side of above photo taken by JJ Tillman. It served as such until lake transportation ceased in the mid 1930’s.
History of Booth Fisheries
In the late 1800’s Alfred Booth and Sons of Chicago had developed a huge wholesale fish business that dominated throughout the Great Lakes, owning fish camps, processing plants, docks and steamship lines.
By 1885 Booth had large operations in both Duluth and Bayfield, as well as Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay, Canada). Fishing grounds near Port Wing and Orienta were good and commercial fishing was very active during the summer months.
Booth Fisheries owned the United States and Dominion Transportation Company, and steamships made regular whistle stops along the South Shore four days a week, carrying passengers, freight and U.S. mail.
Andrew Johnson, Booth manager in Bayfield and a friend of T.N. Okerstrom, bought harbor land in 1905. Shortly thereafter Booth built a large commercial shipping dock, 200 foot long warehouse, ice house and office. Port Wing became a regular scheduled port of call.
The dock could handle any of the Booth steamers—the largest and best known was the Steamship America, 183 feet long. By 1934, Highway 13 was completed from Port Wing to Superior and the shipping traffic to Port Wing had stopped. Booth Fisheries let their property revert to Bayfield County for past due taxes, and the warehouse and big dock disappeared. The following year Eben Olson hauled the Fisheries Office building up into town.
Content written by Soney Rockenbach and Mary Childs
Booth Fisheries Office Becomes the Third Port Wing Area Historical Society Building
The building was relocated to the property owned by Kevin Jardine. In 2005 Kevin donated the building to the Historical Society. Soney Rockenbach began the process for getting permits necessary to move it to the museum grounds just north of the old Port Wing town jail. Then the longer project of getting it ready inside and out for welcoming visitors began, finally completed in 2009.
Booth Building Displays
In 2010 an early Port Wing town model built by Cliff Hoagland is in the Booth Building. The model is being updated to be ready for summer, 2019. The 1930s vintage movie camera taken from the town hall will be displayed here once it has been cleaned up. Historical Society members are working on developing other displays and preparing the Booth Building for guests in summer 2019.