Date of Award

December 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Patricia Richards

Committee Members

John Richards, Dawn ScherThomae


Crandon, Wisconsin, Historical Archaeology, Midwest Lumber Industry, Oral History


At the beginning of the 20th century railroad logging camp settlements dotted the landscape in Northern Wisconsin in order to supply growing city populations and immigrants moving west with building materials. Many temporary towns were created in order to house the workers and their families and provide basic amenities needed to survive in an isolated environment. These communities typically lasted until the extraction of the hardwood was complete and then communities would abandon their makeshift dwellings and move on to the next stand of trees. Very few of the lumber siding settlements have been documented within the archaeological record. Great Lakes Archaeological Research Center, Inc. conducted a phase II archaeological investigation of the Keith's Siding site (47-FR-147) located in Northern Wisconsin in order to assess the site's eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (Mier 1996:159). Keith's Siding was a hardwood extraction settlement that operated from 1910-1925 and most extensively during the years 1915-1922. There is evidence also of the reuse of the settlement during the 1930's (Mier 1996:157).

The goal of this research was to systematically conduct oral history interviews in order to compare the information derived from those interviews with the historical documentation and archaeological data to create a richer interpretation of the Keith's Siding site. Multiple lines of evidence were employed to investigate the potential reoccupation of Keith's Siding by Kentucky migrant families. The data were also used identify the exact location of the site as well as the various names used to label the settlement. Through the amalgamation of historical documentation, oral histories, and the archaeological record it is possible to better understand the families present at lumber settlements as well as the destruction of Keith's Siding by fire. The difficulties of using oral histories as part of the site's interpretation are also presented in this thesis.