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History of Wisconsin

The area known as Wisconsin was first inhabited by various Indian tribes. The Chippewa, Menominee, Oneida, Potawatomi and Winnebago tribes lived in the area until the late 1800's. Wisconsin was 'discovered' by Jean Nicolet in 1634, while looking for the Northwest Passage to China. In 1763, Wisconsin was part of the territory ceded by France to Great Britain in the Treaty of Paris. Twenty years later, the British released their claim to Wisconsin. In 1848, Wisconsin became the 30th state in the Union. The present Capitol building in Madison was erected between 1906 and 1917, and is the third on this site.

Founded in 1839, Prescott is one of the oldest river towns in Wisconsin. It is located at the confluence of the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers. Built by Swiss settlers in 1848 on a narrow strip of land between the Mississippi River and steep wooded bluffs, Alma was once an important logging stop. Now the entire city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Founded in 1845 by Swiss immigrants, New Glarus is a popular destination for Swiss visitors. Pepin County was the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the classic “Little House” books. Her legacy can be explored at the Little House Wayside, which features a replica of her childhood log cabin, and at the Pepin Historical Museum.

Inspired by the great outdoor museums of Europe, Old World Wisconsin in Eagle is a living history museum comprised of more than 60 historic buildings – relocated from throughout the state and reassembled in authentically landscaped settings.

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc is the largest nautical museum on the Great Lakes, showcasing 100 years of Great Lakes waterfront history.
(See also Wisconsin Must See's)

Nineteenth century photographer (and Wisconsin Dells resident) H.H. Bennett invented parts of the modern camera. His groundbreaking photos can be seen today at the H.H. Bennett Museum in Wisconsin Dells.

The oldest lighthouse in the state, the Wind Point Lighthouse in Racine was built in 1880, and is 112' high. It is also believed to be the oldest and tallest lighthouse still operating on the Great Lakes.

Famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright was born on June 8, 1867, in or near Richland Center, Wisconsin. Spring Green is home to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin estate, which served as his residence, workshop and architectural laboratory for more than 48 years.

The Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac is a National Historic Site overlooking the Wisconsin River Valley. Both the winery and vineyard were established before the Civil War by the Hungarian Count Haraszthy, who later became known as “the father of California winemaking.”




Document Information
Source: WI Dep. of Tourism
Last modified: 20070516
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