Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

The city of Wisconsin Dells is situated in the south-central part of the US State of Wisconsin, around 80 km northwest of Madison. Wisconsin Dells is a scenic region located along the Wisconsin River, straddling the Columbia, Juneau, Adams, and Sauk counties. The city covers a total area of 20.02 sq. km, of which 19.06 sq. km is occupied by land and the remaining 0.96 sq. km is occupied by water. The city of Wisconsin Dells has been named after the scenic "Dells of the Wisconsin River," an 8km long gorge featuring tributary canyons and Cambrian sandstone rock formations along the shores of Wisconsin River. 

Brief History Of Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells
Tourists take the Upper Dells boat tour that travels along the Wisconsin river. Editorial credit: Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

The dells were formed by glacial meltwater, which cut a channel up to 45 meters deep through the sandstone. During this process, the glacial meltwater carved unusual rock formations along a 25 km stretch of the Wisconsin River. Early rivermen gave those shapes descriptive names like Black Hawk’s Head or Chimney Rock. Wisconsin Dells was a town called “Dalles,” a name given by the French explorers, and it means rapids or narrows in a river in French. The Wisconsin River played a vital part in the lives of the locals, from helping them with their logging business and shaping their way of life and etiquette.

Rock formations and trees along the Wisconsin River in Upper Wisconsin Dells.
Rock formations and trees along the Wisconsin River in Upper Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.

The rock formations in the area carry pictographs carved by the Native Americans who made a home for themselves in the Dells for over 2000 years. The town was renamed and was referred to as Kilbourn from 1856 until 1931. Even before it was officially renamed to Wisconsin Dells, the Native Americans have always called it Wisconsin, particularly the Ho-Chunk tribe who gave it that name. Its descendants still live on the 8.09 sq. km land area, preserving the traditions and culture, and language of the tribe. The first permanent settlers started arriving in 1838 when the economy was based on logging spurred by the bridge built across the Wisconsin River in 1850. In addition, a dam was constructed in 1953, and a railroad bridge was built that led to an increase in mills numbers and settlements in the second half of the 19th century. 

Population Of Wisconsin Dells 

The Wa Zha Wa Fall festival parade in Wisconsin Dells
Wisconsin Morgan Horse Club members ride on horses in the Wa Zha Wa Fall Festival parade in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Editorial credit: Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

 As per the 2019 census, the city of Wisconsin Dells has a population of 2,841residents. Between 2018 and 2019, the population witnessed a 3.23% increase from 2,742 to 2,841. The median household income also saw a 5.13% increase from $49,038 to $51,554. About 92% of the city’s population is considered non-Hispanic white, followed by White Hispanic at 5.21% and multiracial non-Hispanic at 1.27%. The minor ethnic groups of Wisconsin Dells are the multiracial Hispanic at 0.634% of the population, followed by Black or African Americans at 0.387%. As of 2019, 97.4% of Wisconsin Dells residents were US residents, and the most common birthplace for the foreign-born residents of Wisconsin was Mexico, followed by India and China

The Economy Of Wisconsin Dells

Tourists enjoying at the Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park in Wisconsin Dells
Tourists enjoy summer fun at the Lost City of Atlantis water rides at the Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, United States. Editorial credit: Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

Initially, logging was the primary occupation of early settlers as the Wisconsin River helped the people move the large pines to sell in nearby cities. Tourists, later on, started coming to the area for the natural beauty, and logging was abandoned, and small businesses sprouted around town to serve the seasonal tourists. The area has several indoor and outdoor waterparks, including Noah’s Ark waterpark, Riverview Park and Waterworld, and Wisconsin Deer Park, that offers many recreational opportunities such as boating, water sports, water ski, horseback riding, golfing, etc. The amphibious DUKW vehicles offer duck tours for the tourists that visit Wisconsin Dells. 

Tourists enjoy a ride on the Original Wisconsin Ducks
Tourists enjoy a ride on the Original Wisconsin Ducks 2.5ton six-wheel amphibious truck ride in Wisconsin Dells. Editorial credit: Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

At present, the median household income in Wisconsin Dells is $51,554, and females tend to have an average income that is 1.34 times lower than the average income of males. Wisconsin Dells rely on many industries to support the city’s economy. These industries include Accommodation & Food Services which employs around 479 people; Health Care & Social Assistance; and Professional, Scientific & Technical Services, which are considered the highest paying industries. Females of ages 25-34 are considered the largest demographic living in poverty, which is at 11.9% of the population of Wisconsin Dells. 

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