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.

Polk County, Wisconsin has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. Prior to European settlement, the area was inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Dakota, Ojibwe, and Menominee. These tribes utilized the plentiful natural resources such as waterways, forests, and prairies for hunting, fishing, and gathering.

European settlers arrived in the early 1800s, bringing significant changes to the area. The first recorded settlement was established in 1836 by Joseph Rolette, a French-Canadian fur trader. The county was officially created in 1853 and named after President James K. Polk. Agriculture played a pivotal role in Polk County's development, with farmers cultivating crops such as wheat, oats, and corn.

The construction of railroads in the late 19th century spurred further growth and economic activity. The city of St. Croix Falls became a significant transportation hub, serving as a gateway for timber and produce from the surrounding areas. The plentiful water resources, including the St. Croix River and numerous lakes, also made Polk County attractive for lumber, logging, and milling industries.

In addition to agriculture and industry, tourism has played an important role in the county's history. The natural beauty of Polk County, including its scenic landscapes, lakes, and recreational opportunities, draws visitors from near and far. During the late 20th century, efforts were made to preserve and protect natural resources, leading to the establishment of numerous parks, recreational areas, and wildlife refuges.

Today, Polk County continues to be a thriving community with a diverse economy that includes agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, and tourism. The county's rich history is showcased in its museums and landmarks, while its natural beauty provides ample opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

  • 1836 - Polk County was created from parts of St. Croix and Crawford counties.
  • 1851 - The first settlers arrived in the county.
  • 1854 - Crop production began with the first cornfields being planted.
  • 1862 - The county's first school was built in Osceola.
  • 1869 - The St. Croix Falls Dam was constructed, providing a reliable power source for the growing area.
  • 1871 - The Wisconsin Central Railroad reached Polk County, boosting economic development.
  • 1873 - The county saw a period of rapid growth in its logging industry.
  • 1902 - The village of Dresser was officially incorporated.
  • 1926 - Polk County's first hospital, St. Croix Falls Community Hospital, opened its doors.
  • 1935 - Interstate State Park, Wisconsin's oldest state park, was established in St. Croix Falls.
  • 1975 - The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, a protected waterway, was established.