Wisconsin was originally part of the Northwest Territory, which was created by the United States in 1787. It later became part of the Michigan Territory in 1805, and then part of the Wisconsin Territory in 1836.
Portage County, located in central Wisconsin, has a rich history spanning over several centuries. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Menominee, Ojibwe, and Ho-Chunk Nations. European settlers began arriving in the early 19th century, attracted by the region's fertile land and abundant natural resources.

The first permanent European settlement in Portage County was established in 1836, with Plover being one of the earliest communities founded. The area quickly grew, with other towns like Stevens Point, Amherst, and Junction City being established as well. The construction of railroads in the late 19th century further contributed to the county's growth and economic development.

One significant event in Portage County's history was the Wisconsin Central Railway becoming the largest landowner in the county during the late 1800s. This led to the establishment of additional towns and villages along the railway lines, enhancing transportation and commerce in the area.

In the 20th century, Portage County continued to evolve. The expansion of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the 1960s brought a strong educational presence to the area, contributing to the development of a diverse and thriving community. Today, Portage County is known for its agricultural industry, natural beauty, and vibrant arts and culture scene.

Overall, Portage County has a rich and diverse history, shaped by the contributions of Native American tribes, European settlers, and subsequent waves of immigrants. Its evolution from a rural settlement to a thriving county is a testament to the hard work and resilience of its residents throughout the centuries.

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

  • 1836 - Portage County is created as a county in the Wisconsin Territory.
  • 1844 - The first settlers, George Stevens and his family, arrive in what is now known as Stevens Point.
  • 1847 - Stevens Point becomes the county seat of Portage County.
  • 1857 - Stevens Point is officially incorporated as a city.
  • 1871 - The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is established as the Stevens Point Normal School, which later becomes a university.
  • 1881 - The Wisconsin Central Railroad reaches Stevens Point, leading to increased trade and economic growth in the county.
  • 1894 - The Stevens Point Brewery is founded and becomes a major employer and contributor to the local economy.
  • 1909 - The Plover River State Fish Hatchery is established, becoming one of the largest fish hatcheries in the United States.
  • 1930s - The Great Depression hits Portage County, causing significant economic challenges for the region.
  • 1940s - World War II leads to an increased demand for goods and services, stimulating the county's economy.
  • 1964 - The Portage County Historical Society is formed to preserve and promote the county's history.
  • 1979 - The Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) is built, becoming the largest high school in the county.