Wisconsin Facts

Wisconsin has been the state of leadership and progress for many years and in many areas. Wisconsin has pioneered progressive and social legislation, spurred to do so by Robert La Follette, a Wisconsin native.

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Wisconsin is leading America in the total number of milk cows, in milk production, and in value of dairy and milk products. The state additionally produces 20% of the nation’s butter and 40% of all cheese. But it is actually manufacturing that is Wisconsin’s main industry.

The state leads the nation when it comes to manufacturing machinery and in this state, there’s more paper produced than in any other U.S. state. The state is nicknamed the Badger State.

Population: 5,770,700 (2016)
Capital city: Madison
Area: just over 56,000 square miles, 26th in the nation

Quick Facts about Wisconsin

– In 1865, Mrs. Carl Schurz opens the first U.S. kindergarten in Waterton.
– The state is a social legislation pioneer.
– Leads America in dairy products and production.
– First in paper production, paper-making machinery, and paper products.
– Has the smallest city to house a major pro football team (Green Bay Packers).
– Oldest continually operating radio station in the world (WHA, Madison).

Wisconsin brief history

Jean Nicolet, a French explorer, was the first European to visit the area in 1634, followed by the expedition of Sieur de Groseillier, Medart Chouart, and Pierre Esprit Radisson who explored the region in the period 1654 – 1656.

They were opening the region to the rapidly expanding fur trade. Jean Nicolet actually believed he had reached the Far East and China, so he was stepping ashore near Red Bank, a Winnebago village, wearing Chinese robes, which astonished the local Indians.

In 1673, on June 17th, the expedition of Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette was discovering the long-looked-for upper Mississippi River right at the mouth of the Wisconsin River, after they had crossed the region to pioneer a route from east to west.

In 1678, Frenchman Daniel Greysolon, Sieur de Lehut, discovered and explored the western portions of land near Lake Superior and he then claimed those lands in the King of France’s name. The Treaty of Paris though (1763) rendered control to the British.

In 1764, Augustin Monet de Langlade established Green Bay which would become a thriving and successful fur trading post. This was actually the first settlement of Europeans in the area, and in 1781, they founded Prairie du Chien right on the location of a major Indian village. Prairie du Chien means ‘Prairie of the Dog’, and the town was actually named for prominent Indian Chief Alim, a name that means ‘Dog’.

The Treaty of Paris of 1783 gave the United States control of the area, though the British persisted in their claims to the region to only surrender after the War of 1812 had ended.

By the early 1820s, lead mining had become a major economic activity in the southwestern portions of Wisconsin, and quite a few of the state’s miners were burrowing into the hillside mines like badgers, resulting in the state’s nickname the ‘Badger State’.

In the Black Hawk War of 1832, the Sauk war chief had fled into what is now southern Wisconsin. Black Hawk’s troops were extremely diminished and weakened by disease, hunger, desertion, or death and a lot of native survivors had retreated to the Mississippi River.

On August 2, U.S. soldiers started to attack what was left of the British Band at the Battle of Bad Axe, which ended the war. A huge number of the men, women and even children tried to escape across the Mississippi, but they were massacred.

In the year 1835, the first American steam-powered vessel arrived at a trading port that later would become the city of Milwaukee, and one year after, in 1836, Madison, though still a bit of a wilderness, was decided to become the territorial capital.

On May 29, 1848, Wisconsin became the Union’s 30th state, and it attracted waves of German, Scandinavian, and quite a few other immigrants, and 1851 was the year that the first trains could be seen on the new Milwaukee-Waukesha railroad tracks.

In 1871, on October 8th, a horrific forest fire destroyed Peshtigo, a Wisconsin lumber town, killing almost 1,200 of its residents. Stephen Babcock, in 1890, had developed a method and a machine to test the butterfat quantity in milk, and this gave a new boost to Wisconsin’s nickname of the ‘Dairy State’.

In 1901, Robert La Follette had become Wisconsin’s first native-born governor, and he brought several reforms that later were copied on a wide scale. A 1904 fire partially had destroyed Wisconsin’s statehouse, and the present one, the 3rd capitol in Madison, was built in the period 1906 – 1917, the same period Wisconsin was mobilizing for World War I.

It was during the 1930s, at the days of the Great Depression, that the state of Wisconsin passed the first legislation to compensate unemployment. The Great Depression squeezed hard on dairy workers which sparked the 1934 milk strikes during which tens of thousands of gallons of milk got dumped in protest of the harsh conditions.

1953 was the year that The Braves, the baseball team, came to Milwaukee to eventually win the 1957 World Series. Later, in 1966, The Braves relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. In 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway was opened and this would bring a lot of benefits to all of Wisconsin’s ports.

… Wisconsin is truly the soul of a fantastic people. She is manifesting the spirit of conquerors, whose strengths have subdued the forests, harnessed the force of Nature, quickened its soil,  and multiplied the production. From her great abundance, she will serve her foods to the world…