My model is named after Frederic, Wisconsin, and its founder Wm. Starr. The railroad name is fictitious, but the railroad was real, and the village and the history on which the model is based are both very real. Starr owned much of the land in the area and persuaded the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault St. Marie Railroad, aka the Soo Line, to build a branch from the mainline at Dresser Junction (27 miles south of Frederic), so the hardwoods in the area could be brought to market. Frederic didn’t exist before the railroad and was the end of the line in late 1901 when the tracks and the new depot were completed. The village was platted by Starr, and we’re told there were about 700 people at the November 21, 1901, event when lots were first sold. Already there were lumber camps in the vicinity, so the area had an immediate wintertime population of nearly 300. The village literally formed overnight. The 1905 census tallied 683 inside the village limits. The village was named after Wm. Starr’s son Frederic; so there really is a Frederic Starr, but that’s not how this railroad model got its name.
Frederic had an engine house and a coal derrick north of the depot on a spur adjacent to the lead track. The loco often stayed overnight in Frederic. In 1912 the rails were extended north to Duluth-Superior (this was the last track ever laid by the Soo: all later Soo expansion was by acquisition). The Frederic engine house was moved to Danbury, about 26 miles north, in 1913.
My model is a conflation of two time periods: the early years with horse drawn vehicles and with Frederic still heavily in the lumber business and at the end of the line; and about ten years later with early automobiles and a more fully developed economy. The line to Duluth-Superior is not part of the model. This choice lets me pick and choose the industries I model even though historically they may not have existed concurrently.
Photo 1 looks down a reimagined main street, Oak Street, with four stores on either side (I may add more later); further to the right, a church, a parsonage, and another house is on one side of Wisconsin Avenue with the school on the other. This was the historic arrangement of these structures, but historically Wisconsin Avenue intersected Oak Street: modeler’s license. Up on the hill, to the left, is a large house (owned by Ketil Stensrud, the banker). Stenrud’s house is between two boxwood “trees.” Beyond the Stensrud house, barely visible in the photo, is a model of the original creamery. The model is a compressed version of the original (see Photo 2). Oak Street in the real Frederic is 80’ wide (40” wide in 1:24 scale). I modeled it at 36’ (18” in the model) and use structures much smaller than existed in reality. There were eleven buildings in a single block on the north side of the original Oak Street when they all burned to the ground on November 9, 1908 (see Photo 3). The large blue two-story building housing the historic Frederic Star newspaper was actually located in the next block east.