The area between Gordon and Solon Springs was the northernmost point where a logging dam could be built. The idea was that loggers would drag their logs onto the ice behind the dam during the winter. When the ice melted, the logs would be floating in the water. When the water behind the dam was high enough, the gates would be opened and the water and logs would flow through the dam. The surge of high water would carry the logs downstream until deep water was located. At that point, the logs would be gathered up into large rafts and floated down to one of the mills.
On the most primitive of these logging dams, loggers would simply block the river with logs and gravel. No gates or mechanism would be installed. When the time came to release the logs, explosives would be used to cut a hole in the dam. As a result, this style of dam was called a cut-away dam.
Cut-A-Way dam was built by lumberman Issac Staples in 1871 at a cost of $10,000. It was expensive at that time, but worth it for the lumber that it helped to produce. Staples used the dam to assist in the harvest of an exceptional grove of large pine trees located along the nearby Moose River. Other loggers used the dam, too, paying Staples a usage fee.
The timber was mostly played out by the early 1900s since the virgin forests had all been cut by that time. As a result, Cut-A-Way dam was abandoned. The Wisconsin DNR cut out a large section of the dam to improve the river for canoes. The remains of the dam sat more or less abandoned until the early 2000s. At that time, Douglas County was improving its network of ATV and Snowmobile trails in order to bring more tourism into the county.
Douglas County desired to extend the Pine Ridge Snowmobile Trail across the Saint Croix River to connect with the new Wild Rivers Trail on the west side of the Saint Croix. Bids were collected in 2006, and the trail bridge was built in 2007. These photos were taken in the spring of 2008 just after the first winter season had passed.
The photo above is the first view of the bridge when heading eastbound towards the west bank of the Saint Croix River. The trail is built along the top of the embankment of the former logging dam.