On June 2, 1880, a tornado swept across northern Wisconsin from Antigo to Lake Superior, causing timber to blow down in a strip that measured ½ to 1 mile wide. The Indians called this area "Waubeno". "Waubeno" means "the coming of the winds" or "the opening." The town took its name from this event.

The early history of Wabeno centers around the development of three lumber companies-the Menominee Bay Shore Lumber Company, A.E. Rusch Company, and the Jones Lumber Company. In the late 1800's the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad pushed into the area. Sawmills were soon built along the tracks and towns grew up around the mills. In 1905 there were five sawmills -the Bay Shore, Rusch, Jones, Prebe and Mayflower together they produced 35 million feet of lumber a year. All but the Menominee Bay Shore mill shut down between 1920 and 1930. In 1936, it too, was forced to close its doors. The cutover and burned lands were sold to prospective farmers and farming is still prevalent in the region, but never to the extent envisioned due to the short northern growing season.

Wabeno boast a Logging Museum built in 1941 by the Wabeno Lions Club, which contains relics and records preserved in a replica of an old logging camp to present a nostalgic picture of the most colorful era in Forest County history. The building a genuine notched log structure created to replicate a logging camp. It contains almost everything needed to do hardwood logging. The only thing missing is the complete harness for the horse.

Wabeno has one of the few remaining steam powered logging haulers still operational in the nation. It is one of 200 such machines built in the early 1900s by Phoenix Manufacturing Company. It was owned by the Jones Lumber Company and used at their mill from 1909 until 1935. It was brought by the town in 1944 and restored to life in 1965.


Wabeno Public Library is housed in one of the first buildings built in the town. It was built by the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Company for use as a land office in 1897. It was purchased by the town in 1923 and is one of the most quaintest and charming log libraries in the state.


Wabeno host a Truck Pull on Memorial Day Weekend, Steam-Up Days on the third weekend in July, and Wabeno Logging Expo and Harvest Festival on Labor Day weekend. Steam-Up Days is a celebration of bygone technology put on by Wabeno Antique Power Association. Steam power enthusiasts, old gasoline engine buffs, and anyone who likes machinery from the past come to Wabeno to display and operate their antique equipment. The Logging Expo and Harvest Festival is held to remember the logging and sawmill heritage of this community and the continued importance of these industries. The two day event includes a parade, midway, lumberjack contests, display of old and new equipment, farm product exhibits and lots of fun for the entire family.

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