Crandon was the dream of Samuel Shaw, an entrepreneur and capitalist who acquired property in the area in the 1880s. His vision was to build the town between the two hills and around the four lakes that are made-up Crandon’s city limits. The area was part of Oconto County at that time, and Shaw, with assistance from Major Frank P. Crandon (tax commissioner with the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad), successfully lobbied Wisconsin’s legislature for the creation of a new county.
Forest County was created in 1887, with Crandon to serve as the county seat. Crandon didn’t expand as fast as other communities in the county due to lack of rail service. Freight and passengers traveled to Crandon by riding the train to either Pelican Lake or Argonne, then walking or riding the stagecoach. In 1891, Page and Landeck Lumber Company bought a huge tract of hardwood timber lands near Crandon, but they were unable to utilize the resource until the CN&W railroad built a spur from Pelican Lake. By 1902, the company built a huge sawmill (later named the Keith & Hiles Lumber Mill) near Clear Lake on Crandon’s north side. The population of Crandon grew from 800 to over 2,400 in just a few years.
The migration of settlers and loggers who came to Crandon in the first part of the century was due, in part, to the cheap cut over land available for farming and, in part, to the fact that the Page & Landeck sawmill was moved to Crandon from Glasgow, Kentucky. Many employees followed the mill from Kentucky to its new home. The so-called Crandon “Kentuck” is known about statewide and is the source of much rich cultural history in Crandon.
Crandon was incorporated into a city right after the new courthouse construction began on January 28,1909. Times were booming with many of the attractive brick buildings in town built during that period. In the years that followed, Crandon’s fame was tied to a downturn in the logging industry. Today, however, the local economy still boasts many logging companies that work in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, as well as healthy tourist industry, and is currently enjoying a growth in light industry.