Welcome to Stone Lake
I grew up coming to Stone Lake WI since I was just a little kid, and actually probably just a little baby. My first actual memories were under the age of 5, but I’m sure I was here before then too. For me, going ‘up north’ has always meant going to Stone Lake, and it is what I think of when I think of going to ‘the cabin’ or ‘out of town’ for the weekend.
As a kid, Stone Lake was roaming around my great grandparents woods and forests, and looking through all Grandpa Red Kane’s toys and trinkets. He would always save me bags of acorns that he would collect. I remember his garage being filled with entertaining antiques, and so was his yard – set up much like a yard sale when really it was just all of his collections. I remember hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa “hooyah-hooyah”, something my Grandpa would always yell from the deck as anyone was approaching. I remember hanging out with their dog boozer, who also saved them once from a house fire, and hanging out with all the other relatives that always seemed to be up there visiting too.
As a pre-teen, Stone Lake was hiking through the back trails with my second cousin Kara and exploring what else there is nearby. It was getting “lost” in the woods and following Grandpa Red’s beer can trails on the trees that he left just for that purpose. It was family walks down old Highway 27 that they lived on, with the scary woods all around. It was rides on my Uncles 3-wheeler through the pine trees across the street. It was jumping into actual Stone Lake, known for being super cold, with my great Aunt Penny, and sitting around the kitchen table hearing all of my great Aunt Pat’s stories from Texas.
As a teenager, Stone Lake was sleeping in my mom’s “fish shack”, AKA the Drunk Tank, on land she had at the time before her cabin ever existed. It was four wheeling rides, being splashed with mud, pontoon rides and fishing on all the lakes. And it was trips to the Stone Lake Pub with my mom, where ‘kids’ could drink with their parents in the bar and occasionally I would try a random taste of alcohol or two.
As an adult, Stone Lake was Cranberry Fest weekend, the parade, the pub, and lots of drinking and socializing. It was party weekends with all my Kane side family members coming up too. It was meeting all my mom’s Stone Lake friends and being introduced to everyone that lives here. It was weekends with friends in the summer and fall and going “pontoon bar hopping” on Long Lake.
My Mom’s Cabin
Stone Lake as a platform for my next level of life.
Stone Lake has always had a significant role in my life, and it only makes sense that this is where I am now as I embark on this next big journey. When Adam and I first thought about ideas of how to initiate this whole plan of ours, we both agreed without a doubt that we would love to spend some time up here while we wait for our house to sell, and to allow us the ability to get accustomed to everything. Plus it’s a great opportunity to enjoy some quality “up north” cabin life that we really didn’t get to do as many times a year as we would have liked!
I’m so thankful and grateful for the opportunity to camp out on family land, and enjoy all there is to offer in this area. Until this point I had never been up here without my mom and never spent so much time getting to know the people, the local events, the town history, the wildlife and all the lakes. Every day is different from the last and full of new experiences, and animal encounters for that matter! [Which speaking of, I never remember seeing SO MUCH bear up here before. In fact growing up, I don’t recall ever seeing bear here at all and now they are everywhere you look. They even come in the yard!]
I don’t know all the facts, and I really wish I did, but I know the general way that this has all come about. My great Grandpa Red Kane and my great Grandma Emily Kane moved up to Stone Lake WI from MN roughly around 1959, seeking out work, and bringing with them 4-5 out of their 6 children with them. (My grandpa Jack was already 17 or 18 years old and I don’t believe he moved up here with them, however I’m not sure about the rest of the gang.) Although I really can’t imagine what this town looked like that long ago, I can image it was a heck of a lot different. They still made a name for themselves though and lived up here until my Grandpa Red passed in roughly the early 2000’s.
The legacy didn’t stop there though, as both my great grandparents are buried up here and are still well known by a lot of the locals in this town. Anytime I go to the Stone Lake Pub my mom always introduces me to someone that knew my grandpa Red.
Nowadays, our family lives on through cabins and land. My mom has land and a cabin, my Uncle does, and so does my Aunt. My grandpa Jack used to too, but it was sold years ago.
Stone Lake is an unincorporated town in both Sawyer and Washburn County Wisconsin. Downtown Stone Lake hugs the eastern shore of actual Stone Lake. The first settlers arrived here in the 1880’s and were comprised of loggers and farmers who faced many challenges in this land of promise. Around the 20th Century, Stone Lake became a boom town with the arrival of the Soo Line Railroad. Stone Lake itself provided water needed for steam engines and the Stone Lake Depot soon became the busiest station on the Chicago to Duluth route. This railroad route also brought in many businesses and visitors to the area.
In the early Stone Lake years, prior to 1926, there were about 28 businesses in operation – 16 of which were located right on Main Street. This included general stores, meal market, a hotel, ice cream parlor, barber shop, Ford dealer, bank, restaurant, medical office, cobbler show and sawmill. On other nearby streets there were the telephone company, land company, blacksmith, livery stable, creamery, ice house, feed mill, opera house and implement company.
A complete history can be viewed and read in the Historical Album located at the Historical Museum in Stone Lake. There is also a special exhibit is the 1913 Soo Line Railroad caboose acquired in June 2009, from the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
In 1978 the idea for Cranberry Fest came about among 5 women who were enjoying a glass of wine in a hot tub and wanted to find a way to celebrate the harvest of cranberries by organizing a festival. The goal was that this could help stimulate commerce in this small town before the long cold months of winter that follow. The very first Cranberry Festival was that same year, in 1978, and drew in over 100 people! It has now grown to one of Northwest Wisconsin’s most popular festivals and can draw over 30,000 people every year!
Now days, all proceeds from the festival are donated to area not for profit youth programs and other non profit organizations.
It’s definitely a festival worth checking out in North Country!
Places to Eat
- Marie’s Hideaway – Sports bar and grill on Highway 70 downtown
- Black Bear Pub – Great pizza and hoagies! Right downtown off of Main Street.
- Summit Lake Game farm – This is the closest thing to my mom’s cabin, right down the road, and is a full service campground and game farm. They also have a bar and full dining and I would say the best food in town!
- Stone Lake Pub – Arguably the most famous spot downtown Stone Lake, and they have a full menu and bar too!
- The Whistle Punk – A new coffee bar and craft beer spot right on Highway 70 downtown and my new favorite place to camp out on Friday mornings and write blog posts like this one. 🙂
- Red Schoolhouse Wines – A cute quaint schoolhouse turned into event place and dining experience. Totally worth checking out! We played Bingo here and ate dinner one night and it was awesome!
- Stone Lake Market Grocery Store – Right Highway 70, offers local produce and simple grocery items. Also has frozen items and beer, wine and spirits!
- Dollar General Store – On Highway 70 just north of downtown. Groceries, household items and anything else you need!
- There are other antique stores located throughout Main Street and downtown on Highway 70 too!
Things to Do
Stone Lake is surrounded by lakes for fishing and boating in the summer and ice fishing and snowmobiling in the winter. There are also many hiking and biking trails to enjoy nearby!
- So many lakes! – Sand Lake, Stone Lake, Chetek Lake, Summit Lake, Long Lake … just to name a few! You can do things like pontoon, boat, canoe, fish, whatever you want!
- Stone Lake Wetland Park – 17.4 acres of wetland and upland ridge walking trails.
- Stone Lake Historical Society Museum – Soo Line railroad depot/caboose and 1926 Stone Lake Town Hall
- Green Lake-Sis Hiking Trail – 3.5 miles long and winds through woods and 4 different wilderness lakes. Can be used for hiking, biking and skiing.
- Beach at Stone Lake
- Hayward, WI – Just 11 miles Northeast from Stone Lake on Highway 27.
- Winter, WI – About 30 miles East from Stone Lake on Highway 70.
- Hiking in Northwestern Wisconsin
- Four wheeling trails
- Snowmobiling trails
Small-town Life with all the Amenities
Stone Lake is a thriving town, very proud of its history. A trip to Stone Lake takes you back to the small town feel and yet at the same time still offers tons of modern day amenities to keep you occupied. It’s worth a trip through to see for yourself, or even a weekend getaway in the fall for Cranberry Fest!