The Stanley Merrill and Phillips Railroad was chartered to the Northwestern Lumber CO in 1893. A 1902 reorganization of the lumber company resulted in the sale of the railroad stockholder. The railroad’s primary purpose was to bring logs from the Northwoods to Stanley to be processed, but it also delivered mail and freight between Stanley and Vallee, 37 miles to the north end.
This marker is on the depot and freight warehouse site where the first passenger ticket was sold on May 1, 1903. Passenger service first took loggers back and forth to the logging camps. Farmers in the area used it for transportation to and from town and for the delivery of supplies. In 1909, a gasoline “streetcar” was added to the rail system. The railroad was known for its excursions to the north, bringing passengers to parties, dances, hunting camps, and picnics.
In 1913, the railroad had a total of 276 freight and passenger cars. The railroad came to an end in 1933 after passenger numbers declined from thousands in its booming years to just 33 in 1932. The S.M. & P Railroad was also affectionately called “Slow, Motion, and Poverty” and “Soup, Meat, and Potatoes.”