Wisconsin Counties
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Wisconsin Counties

There are seventy-two counties in the state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin became part of the Territory of Michigan and divided into two counties: Brown County in the northeast along Lake Michigan and Crawford County in the southwest along the Mississippi River. The state of Wisconsin was created from Wisconsin Territory on May 29, 1848, with 28 counties.

Portage County, Wisconsin

Portage County Education, Geography, and History

Portage County, Wisconsin Courthouse

Portage County is a county in the state of Wisconsin. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 70,019. Its county seat is Stevens Point.

Portage County comprises the Stevens Point, WI Metropolitan Statistical Area and is included in the Wausau-Stevens Point-Wisconsin Rapids, WI Combined Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Portage County Name

Originally named for the Fox-Wisconsin portage, then within its boundaries - a prominent landmark in early Wisconsin history. The gradual change in the boundaries of this; county (described ante) left the name of the county without significance, save that therein is found Plover portage, an insignificant carrying-place between the waters of Wolf and Wisconsin rivers - Wis. Hist. Colls., i, pp. 113, 118.

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


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Portage County History

Portage County, created in 1836 as a territorial county, is named for the overland carry between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. Located in central Wisconsin, the county seat is Stevens Point.

John W. Hunt's 1853 Wisconsin Gazetteer

 "PORTAGE, County, is bounded on the north by Marathon, on the east by Waupacea, on the south by Waushara and Adams, and on the west by La Crosse, and is 30 miles north and south, by 54 miles east and west. It was set off from Brown, Dec. 7, 1836, at which time it embraced about the present county of Columbia. By an act of the legislature, approved March 14, 1841, the territory forming the present counties of Adams, Portage and Marathon was annexed to Portage county, which was organized for county purposes, the judicial connection being with Dane. The countv seat was established at the Wisconsin Portage, and the county was fully organized Jan. 31, 1844; as now organized, it does not contain any of its original limits. The eastern boundary of the county was extended one range February 27, 1851. Plover, a little east of the centre of the county, is the seat of justice. The Wisconsin river passes about centrally through the county from the north, and with its branches afford many good water powers which are, at present, chiefly used for working up pine timber, with forests of which the country is covered. The population, as organized in 1840, was 1,623; 1842, 646; 1846, 931; 1847, 1,504; 1850, 1,267. At the last date, including Marathon, there were 13 farms, 30 manufactories, and 280 dwellings."

From: Handbook of Wisconsin by S. Silas, 1855
pg. 95-96

Portage County lies on the Wisconsin River and its branches, and is almost exclusively engaged in lumbering, its whole supplies, till within a year or two, being drawn from below.--Settlers have gone in during 1854 and '5, who have selected farms, and will soon bring their produce to market. For many years, the business at the lumbering depots will make a ready market for all the produce of the County. The land is not as good for agriculture as most of the other Counties, though there are locations for farms which cannot be surpassed. The Wisconsin Pinery is one of the oldest in the State, it having been surveyed, and timber cut for about ten years, yet the population has probably doubled during the last year.

For the past year the attention of settlers has been directed to lands on the numerous streams entering the Wisconsin River, and a very large accession has been made to the population, of enterprising farmers, who are sure speedily to meet their reward.

Stevens Point, is the largest place, having a population in June, of 833. It is well situated on the Wisconsin River, and will probably always be the center of the lumber trade for that region. The Land Offices for this district are located here.

Plover, seven miles from Stevens Point is the County Seat, having about 300 inhabitants.

Conant's Rapids is a thriving village.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 823 square miles (2,131 km2), of which, 806 square miles (2,088 km2) of it is land and 16 square miles (43 km2) of it (2.00%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Marathon County - north
  • Shawano County - northeast
  • Waupaca County - east
  • Waushara County - southeast
  • Adams County - southwest
  • Wood County - west


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