A Bit of History
Hintz's North Star Lodge on Star Lake was built in 1894-1895 as a home and retreat for railroad and lumber company officials and guests. Originally occupied by Hamilton Salsich, part owner of the Williams, Salsich and Company lumber operation as a home; the lodge was named Hotel Waldheim. The establishment prospered during the early resort years as the elegant and prestigious Oliver Lodge, last stop for Pullman cars on the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul's branch line from New Lisbon to the northwoods of Wisconsin. Sold by Olivers and closed during the war years, the lodge was reopened as North Star Lodge in the summer of 1945. Herbert and Lorraine Theel operated North Star Lodge American-plan style until 1970. During this time the lodge became known for its excellent cuisine, especially the Sunday buffets. Hintz's North Star Lodge was established in 1980.
Lumber Camp Days
Prior to 1872, lands including Star Lake had been set aside by the state as a public park. However, at a time when many of the great pine forests of Wisconsin were near the point of depletion, the state reassessed that decision and opened the area for sale to lumber companies. The virgin pine timbers of the area extended the operations of several lumber companies into the 1900's. One such company, Salsich, Williams and Company of McKenna, Wisconsin, bought land here and moved its mills to Star Lake when the railroad was completed in 1895. Soon Star Lake became the hub for a network of rail lines that branched out into numerous work camps - seven Williams and Salsich camps and numerous others including Langley and Anderson, Strange, Stewart, Crane, Brown Brothers, Jenses and Goodyear. Logged from the area were over two billion board feet of pine.
In its heyday, the town grew to include eighty-four company houses, barns, doctor's office, barber shop, company store, boarding house, three room school and town hall. However, all the bustle of the logging industry was short lived. Lumber company trains were quieted as the last log, with a flag draped over it, was cut on August 9, 1908. The trains were now to carry passengers from the cities to this ideal getaway in the north country.
In 1908, J.W. Oliver purchased Waldheim Hotel and cottages and began operastion of Oliver Lodge, a picturesque hostelry for those with a desire to leave behind some of the greater amenities of civilization. As an early brochure from the lodge states, "The climate in this section of northern Wisconsin is clear and bracing. The drinking water is pure and is a health-giving tonic. This country is a cure for insomnia."
Hospitality was a chief characteristic of Oliver Lodge and a casual elegance prevailed. Those who retreated here found some modern conveniences - electrically lit cottages, screened porches and small heating stoves. Three large meals were served in the dining room each day. Dinner always provided three meats with vegetables and a choice of thirteen desserts. Proper attire in the dining room requested a coat and tie from the gentlemen.
Evening activities included frequent card parties, gala masquerades and quiet hearthside conversations. And, as today, the early guest enjoyed sitting on the porch viewing the beautiful sunsets - lakeview panoramas of extensive scope to be unequaled.
Hintz's North Star Lodge
On Hintz's North Star Lodge property are one of the two remaining original buildings constructed by Williams, Salsich and Company in 1895. The lodge building itself, which contains the main lodge and lodge rooms, is an extraordinary log structure exemplary of the lumbermen's ingenuity. The lower level is an expanse 30' x 70' with a free standing ceiling. The upper level is 50' x 70 '. The 3" x 14" rough cut cut, fifty-foot joists run from the front to the back porch. Placed twelve inches on center, these support the entire second floor. There are no vertical beams within the interior of the lounge. Built from virgin white pine timbers, each seventy-foot log is about fifteen inches in diameter. Inside, the logs are hand-planed smooth, showing the beautiful grain of the wood and the craftsmanship of these fine builders. There is a free standing, native stone fireplace with two hearths back to back. Window and door frames are handmade. The cedar staircase provides interesting steps to the upper level rooms. The staircase itself seems to take you back to another age, a less complicated one, perhaps economically and socially.
The Ideal Retreat
Whether you come for dinner, a weekend or a week; it's like being in another era. The grounds provide a breathtaking view of Star Lake. Well-equipped cottages are comfortable and extremely clean. Five new villa units are open year round for your pleasure. The main lodge displays many pictures and mementos of earlier days.
For your dining pleasure, dinner is served in the Waldheim Room. In the tradition of Oliver Lodge, the guest is provided a delightful cuisine. Your largest difficulty may be choosing from the very tempting entrees.