Minocqua, Oneida County, Wisconsin

  • Article

    About Our Town

    Minocqua is massive in terms of area. Our township runs 18 miles from east to west and 12 miles from north to south and contains over 180 miles of roads. Our total assessed property valuation is now over $1.1billion.

    The permanent resident population of Minocqua is 5,174 but our population grows to many times this size during the summer months. For this reason, our town offers many services and amenities you won't find in other small towns. We have a full-time police force of 11 officers, a 24 hour emergency dispatch center, one of the largest and best equipped volunteer fire departments in the state, and first class medical care.

    The Marshfield Clinic has a major clinic in Minocqua and Howard Young Medical Center located in our sister city of Woodruff is one the finest rural hospitals in the nation. Cities many times our size do not have the medical facilities you will find here in the Minocqua area.

    The downtown of Minocqua is located on what is known as "The Island". The Island is a mix between our downtown business district and a residential area known to locals as Reuben Town. Lakeland High School is located in Minocqua and serves students from a total of 12 towns. West of downtown is an area of Minocqua known as Bo-di-Lac. The Bo-di-Lac area surrounds some pristine lakes in the western end of the township. Much of the south-western portion of Minocqua is pure wilderness. Visitors here will find mile after mile of timber land, snowmobile trails, ski trails, and hiking trails.

    Minocqua History

    Minocqua was officially organized in 1889. The name is from the Ojibwa Indians and translates to "Fair Maiden." Minocqua is known as the Island City because our downtown is surrounded by Lake Minocqua and connected to land only by a bridge, a trestle and a narrow isthmus.

    The Island's first inhabitants were Ojibwa Indians who have fought to keep their culture alive and remain an integral part of the Minocqua area. In the late 1800's Minocqua was a logging town and also saw a lot of French fur traders. The first white child born in town was named Minocqua Clawson. Clawson Hill is a famous landmark in town and is the current location of the Pointe Hotel.

    The railroad was an important ingredient in Minocqua's early growth. The Milwaukee Road originally came to the area to access the timber. The railroad trestle that brought trains to the Island is still there today as the trailhead for the Bearskin Trail.

    Much of the town's business district was wiped out by a fire in 1912. Many of the buildings on our main street today are the ones built after the fire. Like many main streets, the main street of Minocqua contained a store for every need. Even into the 1970's the main street of Minocqua contained three grocery stores, a fruit market, 2 car dealerships, a gas station, a bank, a dental office, a newspaper, 2 hardware stores, 2 pharmacies, a café, a candy store, a shoe shop, a couple clothing stores, and a couple bars. Since that time many of these types of businesses have located in shopping centers off the Island and the main street has evolved into specialty stores that cater to our tourists.

    President Eisenhower was a regular visitor to Minocqua both during and after his time in the White House. Some of the more famous structures in Minocqua include the Howard Young estate where Eisenhower stayed, Bosacki's Boathouse, and the Thirsty Whale. Bosacki's burned to the ground 1972 but the public demanded the DNR allow it to be rebuilt and it was. Down the road from Bosacki's is the Thirsty Whale which is unique in that the entire business is over the water. The Minocqua Community Center also has a long history as it was the Minocqua Grade School and the Minocqua High School in the old days.

    There have 29 town chairmen in the history of our town. It is a great honor for me to join a great list of people who have served in this capacity. The list of early town chairmen reads like a who's-who of the early settlers of Minocqua including names like A.O. Dorwin, Jacob Huber, Thomas Bolger, William Schlecht, and Dr. Torpy.

    Four Season Recreation

    While long noted for our summer recreation opportunities, Minocqua has developed into a four-season destination.

    Minocqua has become the hub of snowmobiling in northern Wisconsin. From our downtown, riders can literally head out north, south, east and west into the wilderness trails of our nearby state, county, national, and private forests. Minocqua is the birthplace of the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs and we are serviced by two of the finest clubs in Wisconsin - The Cross Country Cruisers and the Forest Riders.

    Minocqua is home to Winter Park - the Midwest's premier cross country ski facility. Skiers will find over 75 kilometers of groomed trails and nearly every type of terrain conceivable.

    Spring in Minocqua means fishing. In early spring ice fishermen dot the over 60 lakes located in the town. In late spring the opening day of fishing draws anglers from all over the Midwest.

    Fall in the northwoods is the time for festivals including Minocqua's own Beef-A-Rama at the end of September. Colorama in early October is Mother Nature's opportunity to shine with unbelievable displays of color. In November, the opening of deer season is practically an official holiday and an important part of our northwoods heritage.

    There is a little something for everybody in the summertime. Minocqua is home to the nation's first, and finest, amateur water ski show - the MinAqua Bats. Our lakes offer opportunities for nearly every type of boating and fishing. The famous Bearskin Trail runs through the heart of town for bikers and hikers. In the winter the Bearskin is a major snowmobile highway. Located in the heart of the downtown Island is Torpy Park and Beach.

    Minocqua is surrounded by public forest land making it a paradise for lovers of the outdoors. To the west is the Chequamegon National Forest. To the east is the American Legion State Forest. To the north is the Northern Highlands State Forest and to the south is the Oneida County Forest and the majestic (and wild) Willow Flowage. Family fun opportunities also abound including the famous Wildwood Wildlife Park, numerous mini-golf courses, go-cart facilities, and other family orientated venues.

    Text was written by Town Chairman Joe Handrick, and was taken from the town webpage in 2009. [See the link at the Link Tab.]

    Charles P. Forbes
    August 27, 2009
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