A group of lumberjacks got mad when a shoestring jobber couldn't pay them after they'd stacked his timber on a device called a rollway along Ninemile Creek. The logs were to have been rolled into the melt-swollen creek in spring and floated to a sawmill. Since they didn't get paid, the lumberjacks burned the logs on the rollway in protest. Hence the name "Burnt Rollways." As the story goes, the men reasoned that if they weren't going to get paid, neither would the man they worked for. The rollway they burned reportedly lies submerged in the creek about a mile upstream from our present boat hoist.
Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company built the first boat hoist in 1911. It was an inclined railway that used mechanical power furnished by the stream. The current turned a water wheel in the dam that pulled boats, resting on a wheeled cradle, over the dam on the tracks. Since 1952, an electric gantry hoist running on a 165 feet long trestleway more quickly hoists boats of all sizes as they travel this popular thoroughfare.
Wisconsin Valley Improvement Company operates the Wisconsin River Reservoir System under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license. Since 1907, we have been storing and releasing water in 21 reservoirs over the seasons for water conservation, flood control, low flow augmentation and regulation of a uniform flow in the Wisconsin River. Recreation is one of this vast resource's greatest public benefits. We hope you enjoy it.