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Wisconsin Description

During the last Ice Age, North America was sculpted by massive glaciers and the subsequent craters formed by retreating (melting) ice. In that process the Great Lakes were born and this state named Wisconsin took shape.

An advanced mound-building culture (called the Mississippians) flourished in this area of North America from 800 A.D., up to the mid-15th century. That civilization vanished for unknown reasons.

winnebago indiansWhen European explorers arrived, the area was inhabited by a variety of Indian tribes, including the Kickapoo, Menominee, Sioux and Winnebago.

In 1634, while looking for a northwest passage to China, the French explorer Jean Nicolet was the first European to reach the area, coming ashore in what is now the city of Green Bay.

French traders and missionaries followed Nicolet into this uncharted land, and in 1660, a trading post and Roman Catholic mission were established near Ashland.

By the end of the century, scattered posts were constructed as small storehouses for furs; none had any permanent settlers as the French were apparently only interested in fur trading with the Indians.

Nicolas Perrot, a French explorer, diplomat, and fur trader, helped establish Green Bay as the center of regional fur trading. In 1686, the French formally claimed all of this region for France.

It subsequently became part of a vast slice of land across North America called New France. France held that land for decades, until the Treaty of Paris of 1763 when it was awarded to the British as a result of their victory in the French and Indian War (1754-1763).

The British dominated the area during the mid-18th century, and they (like the French) were in the fur trading business. British land possessions in America, including the Wisconsin region ended in 1783, after their crushing defeat in the American Revolution War.

In 1787, Wisconsin lands became a part of America's Northwest Territory, and in 1800, a part of the Indiana Territory. Later, it was merged into both the Illinois and Michigan territories.

A lead mining boom in the 1820's brought thousands of new settlers. The inevitable conflicts with indigenous Native Americans over land (and mining) rights motivated the Federal government to uproot and force (by treaty or by deception) entire tribes west of the Mississippi River.

black hawk warIn what proved to be a disastrous attempt to regain their indigenous homelands, the Fox and Saux Indians returned in 1832. The subsequent Black Hawk War and its final battle, the Battle of Bad Axe, resulted in the deaths (or massacre) of hundreds of Indians, and literally ended any future threat of Native American attacks.

Although an unwarranted fear of Native Americans remained for years, settlers continued to stream into Wisconsin. On April 20, 1836 the Wisconsin Territory was created by an act of the U.S. Congress. It included all of the present day states of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as parts of North and South Dakota.

Wisconsin Cities, Counties & Area Codes

City County Area Code
Friendship Adams 608
Ashland Ashland 715
Rice Lake Barron 715
Washburn Bayfield 715
Green Bay Brown 920
Mondovi Buffalo 715
Grantsburg Burnett 715
Chilton Calumet 920
Chippewa Falls Chippewa 715
Neillsville Clark 715
Portage Columbia 608
Prairie du Chien Crawford 608
Madison Dane 608
Beaver Dam Dodge 920
Sturgeon Bay Door 920
Superior Douglas 715
Menomonie Dunn 715
Eau Claire Eau Claire 715
Florence Florence 715
Fond du Lac Fond du Lac 920
Crandon Forest 715
Platteville Grant 608
Monroe Green 608
Berlin Green Lake 920
Dodgeville Iowa 608
Hurley Iron 715
Black River Falls Jackson 715
Watertown Jefferson 920
Mauston Juneau 608
Kenosha Kenosha 262
Luxemburg Kewaunee 920
La Crosse La Crosse 608
Darlington Lafayette 608
Antigo Langlade 715
Merrill Lincoln 715
Manitowoc Manitowoc 920
Wausau Marathon 715
Marinette Marinette 715
Montello Marquette 608
Keshena Menominee 715
Milwaukee Milwaukee 414
Sparta Monroe 608
Oconto Oconto 920
Rhinelander Oneida 715
Appleton Outagamie 920
Mequon Ozaukee 262
Durand Pepin 715
River Falls Pierce 715
Amery Polk 715
Stevens Point Portage 715
Phillips Price 715
Racine Racine 262
Richland Center Richland 608
Janesville Rock 608
Ladysmith Rusk 715
Hudson Saint Croix 715
Baraboo Sauk 608
Hayward Sawyer 715
Shawano Shawano 715
Sheboygan Sheboygan 920
Medford Taylor 715
Arcadia Trempealeau 608
Viroqua Vernon 608
Eagle River Vilas 715
Whitewater Walworth 262
Spooner Washburn 715
West Bend Washington 262
Waukesha Waukesha 262
Waupaca Waupaca 715
Wautoma Waushara 920
Oshkosh Winnebago 920
Wisconsin Rapids Wood 715

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on July 10, 2020.