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Wisconsin Counties
There are 72 counties in the state of Wisconsin.

Buffalo County, Wisconsin

Buffalo County History, Geography, and Demographics

County Seat: Alma
Year Organized: 1853
Square Miles: 684
Court House:

407 S. 2nd Street
County Courthouse
Alma, WI 54610

Etymology - Origin of County Name

Buffalo County was named for its chief river, Beef or Buffalo, so designated because of the former presence of that animal in the vicinity (Gannett, Place Names, p. 55). Buffalo River was named by Father Louis Hennepin in his voyage up the Mississippi (1680); see Thwaites, Hennepin's New Discovery (Chicago, 1905), p. 222, where the explorer calls it "River of Wild Bulls" and on the accompanying map, it is designated "River of Oxen." The French voyageurs called this stream Riviere des Boeufs; hence its present designation, Beef River.

[Source: Kellogg, Louise Phelps. "Derivation of County Names" in Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin for 1909, pages 219-231.]


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

County History

Buffalo County is located within the Drift less Area of Western Wisconsin, and was founded in 1853. Buffalo County is named after the Buffalo River, which was named in 1680 by Father Hennepin. French voyagers called the river "Riviere des Boeufs," meaning beef or Buffalo. The 42nd largest County in the State, its boundaries on the south, west , and east are formed by the Mississippi River, and in part, by the Chippewa and Trempealeau Rivers.

Buffalo County presents a diversity of scenery, unsurpassed by any other County in Wisconsin. Buffalo County, also offers beautiful valleys of unsurpassed fertility, bordered by towering bluffs on all sides, which in the summer when covered in foliage, offer a view of scenery rarely equaled.

From: Handbook of Wisconsin by S. Silas, 1855
pg. 50-51

This County was organized in 1853 from Chippewa. It lies on the Mississippi River at the mouth of the Chippewa, and is rapidly filling up. It is at present but sparsely populated, and there is much good Government land to be had. The valleys of the Trempeleau and Buffalo Rivers are extensive and eminently adapted to agriculture--fine prairies, fine timber, well watered, and as yet almost entirely unoccupied, presenting one of the best openings for the immigrant to be found in the State of Wisconsin.

Waumandee City is the County Seat of this County, situated on the Mississippi, about 50 miles above La Crosse. It is a promising point of business, and will probably command the trade of this and the Northern part of Trempeleau Counties.

Buffalo is in the La Crosse land district, and consequently entries can only be made at the La Crosse office.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 710 square miles (1,838 kmē), of which, 684 square miles (1,773 kmē) of it is land and 25 square miles (65 kmē) of it (3.54%) is water.

Natural Vegetation

Mostly oak savanna (bur oak, white oak and bluestem). Northeast: white, black, and red oaks. Along the Mississippi River: willows, soft maple, and ash.

Neighboring Counties:

  • Pepin County – north
  • Eau Claire County – northeast
  • Trempealeau County – east
  • Winona County, Minnesota – south
  • Wabasha County, Minnesota – west

Cities and Towns:

- Alma (County Seat) city Incorporated Area
- Belvidere town
- Buffalo town
- Buffalo City city Incorporated Area
- Cochrane village Incorporated Area
- Cross town
- Dover town
- Fountain City city Incorporated Area
- Gilmanton town
- Glencoe town
- Lincoln town
- Maxville town
- Modena town
- Mondovi city Incorporated Area
- Montana town
- Naples town
- Nelson village Incorporated Area
- Waumandee town

County Resources:

County Resources
Counties: US Map
The history of our nation was a prolonged struggle to define the relative roles and powers of our governments: federal, state, and local. And the names given the counties, our most locally based jurisdictions, reflects the "characteristic features of this country!"