About Our Town
Minocqua is enormous in terms of geographical area--about five times the size of an ordinary township. The town runs eighteen miles from east to west, twelve miles from north to south and contains nearly 200 miles of town roads. Minocqua's assessed property valuation is over $1.5 billion.
The permanent resident population of Minocqua is right around five thousand, but our population grows to many times that size during the summer months. For this reason our town offers many services and amenities you wouldn't expect in a small town.
For example, the Minocqua Police Department has eleven full-time officers and a 24-hour emergency dispatch center. The Minocqua Fire Department is one of the largest and best-equipped volunteer fire departments in the state. An impressive addition has recently been added to the Minocqua Public Library. And the Campanile Center for the Arts offers musical performances, theater and instruction year-round.
Most of Minocqua is served by high-speed broadband internet. Additionally, there are wi-fi hotspots thoughout town, including three free wi-fi hotspots downtown sponsored by the Town of Minocqua.
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise is the quality of health care offered in our community. Cities many times our size do not have the medical facilities you will find here in the Minocqua area. Marshfield Clinic-Minocqua Center was recently expanded to over 100,000 square feet. The facility includes a state-of-the-art ambulatory surgery center and more than 70 physicians providing primary care, surgery and medical specialties.
Just a couple blocks away from Marshfield Clinic-Minocqua Center is Howard Young Medical Center, an acute care 99-bed hospital with ICU and CCU units as well as a renal dialysis unit. The facility is named after its benefactor, Howard Young, an art dealer from New York who had a residence on Lake Minocqua and was the uncle of actress Elizabeth Taylor.
Minocqua's downtown is situated on what is known as "the Island" (only a small isthmus of land prevents it from being an actual island). The Island is surrounded by Lake Minocqua and contains a developed central business district and a residential area on the east side of the Island known as "Reuben Town".
Out in the western portion of our town is an area known as "Bo-Di-Lac" (a name derived from Booth and Diamond Lakes). The Bo-Di-Lac area includes many nice recreational lakes and forests. And, in the southwest portion of our town, you'll find mile after mile of pure wilderness, timber lands, snowmobile trails, ATV trails, ski trails, hiking trails...Cedar Falls Campground, and a large portion of the Willow Flowage Scenic Waters Area.
Minocqua public schools include Minocqua-Hazelhurst-Lake Tomahawk Elementary School (MHLT) and Lakeland Union High School (LUHS). MHLT serves students from four towns and LUHS serves students from twelve towns. Trinity Lutheran School offers education for pre-K through 8th grade. Kemp Natural Resource Station is a research and teaching facility situated in Minocqua and operated by the University of Wisconsin.
Nicolet College of Rhinelander has an outreach center in Minocqua called Nicolet College-Lakeland. It brings Nicolet College programming and services to Minocqua area communities.
Minocqua was officially organized in the year 1889. While explanations vary regarding the meaning of the name "Minocqua", the most credible seems to be "noon day rest" and is attributed to the Island's earlier inhabitants, the Ojibwe Indians. The Ojibwe people have worked to keep their heritage alive and remain an integral part of area culture.
In the late 1800's, Minocqua was a logging town and also saw many French fur traders. The first white child born in town was named Minocqua Clawson. Clawson Hill was a famous landmark in town and is the current location of the Pointe Resort & Hotel at the south end of the Highway 51 bridge.
The railroad was a critical component of Minocqua's early growth. The Milwaukee Road railroad company originally came to the area to access timber. Later, railroads catered primarily to sportsmen and tourists, transforming Minocqua into the vacation getaway haven it remains to this day. The two railroad trestles that brought trains to the Island are still intact today and serve as the trailhead for the Bearskin State Trail (hiking and biking in summer, snowmobiling in winter).
Much of the town's business district was wiped out by a major fire in 1912. Many of the buildings on our main street today are those built after the fire.
Like many main streets, the main street of Minocqua had a store for every need. Even into the 1970's Minocqua's main street contained three grocery stores, a fruit market, two car dealerships, a gas station, a bank, a dentist, a newspaper, two hardware stores, two pharmacies, a cafe, a candy store, a shoe shop and a few clothing stores. While the last several decades have brought a higher percentage of visitor-oriented retail stores, our downtown still retains a U.S. Post Office, multiple banks, numerous restaurants...even an old fashioned barber shop.
The Island serves as Minocqua's civic center; you'll find the Campanile Center for the Arts (former St. Patrick Church), the Minocqua Police Department, Minocqua Fire Department and the Minocqua Community Center, which houses our town offices and newly-expanded public library.
Some of the more famous landmarks on the Island are Bosacki's Boathouse at the north end of the Highway 51 bridge (now known simply as "The Boathouse") and the Thirsty Whale, which is just down the shore from The Boathouse and built entirely over the water. Bosacki's burned to the ground in 1972; ordinarily a structure could not be rebuilt so close to--or in this case, partly over--water, but a public outcry convinced the DNR to allow it to be rebuilt where it was.
Torpy Park and its beach are also Island landmarks, along with the Belle-Isle building and the three-story Minocqua Community Center, which was originally the Minocqua Grade School and the Minocqua High School in days of yore. The Minocqua Community Center is where the town offices (third floor) and the Minocqua Public Library (first floor) are located.
There have been 30 town chairmen in the history of Minocqua. The list of early town chairmen reads like a who's-who of the early Minocqua settlers--names like John Sullivan, Frank Rogers, Pat O'Malley, Jay & Thomas Bolger, Art Dorwin, David Jenkinson, Jacob Huber, William Schlecht and Dr. Torpy. The current Town Chairman is Mark Hartzheim.
Four Seasons Recreation
While long noted for our summer recreational opportunities, Minocqua has evolved into an outstanding four-season destination.
In winter, Minocqua is northern Wisconsin's snowmobiling hub. From our downtown, riders can literally head north, south, east and west into the scenic wilderness trails of the surrounding state, county, national and private forest lands where hundreds of miles of groomed trails await. Minocqua is the birthplace of the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs and is serviced by two of the finest snowmobile clubs in Wisconsin: The Minocqua Forest Riders and the Cross Country Cruisers.
We're also home to Minocqua Winter Park, the Midwest's premier cross country ski facility with over 6,500 acres of pristine terrain and 75 kilometers of groomed (traditional and skate) trails. Other opportunities at Winter Park include a new tubing hill (complete with rope tow), pond skating and snowshoeing.
Spring in Minocqua means fishing. In early spring ice fishermen dot the over sixty lakes in town, jigging for late ice panfish. In late spring the opening day of fishing season (usually the first Saturday in May) draws anglers from all over the Midwest.
Summertime offers a little something for everyone. We're home to the nation's first, and one of the finest, amateur water ski shows, the Min-Aqua Bats. Our lakes offer opportunities for nearly every type of fishing, boating and skiing. The famous Bearskin State Trail runs right into the heart of town for bikers and hikers. Also located downtown is Torpy Park, with its sand beach, tennis courts and sand volleyball court (and ice skating rink in winter). Minocqua also has three excellent summer camps with rich histories and traditions.
Fall in the Northwoods is a time for festivals, like Minocqua's own Beef-A-Rama at the end of September. Colorama in late September and early October is when Mother Nature really shines with spectacular displays of color. In November, the opening of deer hunting season is practically an official holiday and an important part of our Northwoods heritage.
Many of the reasons President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a regular Minocqua visitor both during and after his presidency are the reasons visitors come here today. We offer the true getaway feel of God's Country along with the recreational amenities and services you want and expect. Whether you're here for a visit or here for a lifetime, thanks for choosing Minocqua!