One town, two personalities - Sayner and Star Lake

Plum Lake


This may seem a bit unusual but, as the community lines are drawn, both Sayner and Star Lake comprise the Town of Plum Lake. Though neither community is incorporated as separate entities, each does have its own zip code helping to solidify each one’s identity.

Turning the clock back, one of the most significant impacts in the historical development of the area was the arrival of the Milwaukee Road railroad. Like most towns in the Northwoods established in 1890s, the lumber industry was the lead industry.

Orrin Sayner established the Plum Lake House in 1892, where the post office occupied the kitchen. He envisioned the area becoming a premier recreational destination. True to his vision, families from Milwaukee, Chicago and St. Louis would travel by train to the area for the summer months, some arriving in their private railcars.

With the loss of the lumber industry after World War I, many residents became caretakers for the wealthy seasonal residents and developed businesses around the burgeoning tourism industry.

Sayner received its official nomenclature in 1934 when the post office moved from Plum Lake to town.

Star Lake came into existence in 1894 during the lumber days and then fell on its resources as a resort and support services community for campers, summer residents and the local residents after lumbering moved to the northwest.

According to Charles Forbes, in an article on, a website that features information on Star Lake, there is no definitive answer how the community was named Star Lake. There are a few different versions of a story that says  the area was named for a Harry Starr who was killed in a pile driver accident. However, Forbes said his research shows this was just a story.

Today the Town of Plum Lake is part of the Northland Pines School District. Sayner is home to a modern library and is a part of the Northern Waters Library Services that connects services of libraries through northern Wisconsin.

The very popular bike trail system travels throughout the forested lands and through Sayner.

For those who like to hit the links, the Plum Lake Golf Club is the oldest nine-hole golf course on the shores of Plum Lake. The clubhouse is appointed with many charming aspects of yesteryear but is fully equipped with modern day conveniences.

Sayner is also the home of the Vilas County Historical Museum which opened in 1959. The museum is open from Memorial Day until mid-October. The museum has a fantastic collection of artifacts that paint a vivid picture of the evolving history of the Northwoods.

Though a small community, this town is very active with many popular activities scheduled throughout the year.

Brought to you by:  Eliason Realty of the North, LLC 

Northern Wisconsin Real Estate with Offices in Eagle River and St Germain WI

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