Historical Markers in
Forest County, Wisconsin

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The deadliest tornado in Wisconsin's history occurred on May 18, 1883, when a tornado swept through the town of Rochester, killing 117 people and injuring more than 200 others.
Forest County, located in the northern part of Wisconsin, has an intriguing history that dates back to prehistoric times. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, particularly the Potawatomi people, who utilized the abundant natural resources for hunting, fishing, and gathering. European settlers began arriving in the late 19th century, drawn by the region's lush forests and potential for logging.

In the late 1800s, the timber industry boomed in Forest County. The vast forests provided a seemingly limitless supply of lumber, which attracted numerous logging companies. This led to the establishment of many towns, such as Crandon and Wabeno, which served as centers for logging operations. The logging industry played a significant role in shaping the county's economy and landscape during this period.

However, by the early 20th century, overlogging had taken its toll on Forest County's forests. Concerns about deforestation and sustainable resource management prompted the establishment of the Nicolet National Forest in 1933. This federal protected area covers a significant portion of the county and aims to preserve the natural environment while offering recreational opportunities for visitors.

Today, Forest County is known for its scenic beauty and outdoor recreational activities. The county's economy has diversified to include tourism, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation as primary industries. Visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, biking, boating, fishing, and snowmobiling in the pristine forests and lakes of the region. Forest County's history as a logging hub may have shaped its past, but it now represents a balance between preservation and sustainable use of its natural resources.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Forest County, Wisconsin.

  • 1851: Forest County established as a separate county from portions of Oconto and Langlade counties.
  • 1879: First sawmill established in Crandon, leading to a boom in the lumber industry.
  • 1887: City of Crandon incorporated as the county seat.
  • 1896: Land fraud scandal erupts, known as the "Gresham Bribery Case", involving logging companies and county officials.
  • 1933: Construction of the first courthouse in Crandon.
  • 1950s: Decline of the lumber industry due to over-cutting of forests.
  • 1970: Nicolet National Forest established, providing recreational opportunities and conservation efforts.
  • 1972: Mole Lake Sokaogon Chippewa Tribe opens a casino, bringing economic benefits to the area.
  • 1988: Forest County Potawatomi Community opens a casino, expanding the local economy.
  • 1998: Forest County becomes the first county in the United States to pass a resolution recognizing the rights of nature.