The SOO Line Railroad was an important stimulus to the Stone Lake area. The area had been sparsely settled by adventurous loggers and farmers in the late 1880s. They had traveled on rough dirt roads and through the deep woods to get to this remote area of northwest Wisconsin. The SOO Line Railroad built a depot in Stone Lake near the lakeshore in order to have a constant water supply for its steam locomotives. In 1909, the railroad brought an immigration agent to the area to sell land to settlers, and Stone Lake soon became a boomtown. Farmers could now ship their cattle, sheep, potatoes and beans directly from the Stone Lake depot, and logging companies could ship their logs rather than float them on rivers to the mills. The many deep, crystal clear lakes attracted tourists who wanted to vacation and fish. The resort industry developed quickly, for these vacationers could now travel north to Stone Lake all the way from Chicago, sleeping overnight on the train and arriving in the morning.
The Railroad collection includes many items original to the Stone Lake SOO Line depot, as well as general SOO Line and other railroad memorabilia. The Stone Lake Area Historical Society museum complex is located in the original Stone Lake SOO Line depot, the restored SOO Line wooden caboose No. 593, and in the original 1926 Stone Lake Town Hall.
Cranberry production is an important part of the Stone Lake economy. The area is home to numerous commercial cranberry bogs, and cranberries grown in and around Stone Lake are sent to Ocean Spray for processing. The museum complex is home to an interesting assortment of old and primitive tools, including a large cranberry separator with its many screens which made it possible to sort out only the best berries for shipment. Stone Lake is also home to an annual Cranberry Festival (first weekend in October) that has drawn huge crowds to the area for almost 40 years.
The Stone Lake Museum houses a collection of military history associated with individuals from the area who served in various wars dating back to the Civil War.
There is also a collection of aircraft debris from the tragic B-52 crash that occurred at the outskirts of Stone Lake in 1965. The doomed flight originated in Duluth, and nine airmen lost their lives that day. Parts of the plane are still found by diligent searchers at the crash site. The area of the crash is still visible, as the plane sheared all of the trees from the hillside at the point of impact.
Church History Collection
Information on the history of the local Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist (Wesleyan) and Mennonite churches has been gathered along with many artifacts from those churches. Among the items are a family heirloom bible printed entirely in German, and a pump organ over 100 years old that is still played on occasion.
Many pictures, and an exceptionally accurate miniature logging operation including sawmill, logging sleds, and many tools of the industry are displayed, as well as a huge, two man saw and one of the largest chain saws ever handled by local loggers. More logging tools are being brought to the museum every season.