Green Bay is the oldest continuously settled town in Wisconsin, dating back to the early 1600s.
Washburn County is located in the northwest region of Wisconsin and has a rich history that dates back to the mid-1800s. The area that is now Washburn County was originally inhabited by Ojibwe Native Americans, who used the land for hunting, fishing, and agriculture. The first European settlers arrived in the mid-1800s, establishing small communities throughout the area.

The county was officially created in 1883 and is named after Cadwallader C. Washburn, a prominent politician and businessman from Wisconsin. The early economy of Washburn County revolved around logging, as the area was covered with dense forests. Logging became a major industry, attracting both settlers and immigrants looking for work. The arrival of the railroad in the late 1800s further facilitated the logging industry's growth.

As the logging industry boomed, more communities were established in Washburn County, including the county seat, Shell Lake. These communities grew with the construction of schools, churches, and businesses to support the growing population. However, as the forests were depleted, the logging industry declined, and other sectors, such as farming and tourism, began to emerge.

In the 20th century, agriculture became a significant part of Washburn County's economy, with dairy farming being particularly prevalent. The county also saw an increase in tourism, thanks to its many lakes, rivers, and forests, which attracted outdoor enthusiasts. Today, Washburn County continues to be a popular tourist destination, offering a range of recreational activities, including fishing, boating, hiking, and hunting.

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

  • 1854 - Washburn County is created by an act of the Wisconsin Legislature.
  • 1871 - Shell Lake is founded and becomes the county seat.
  • 1879 - The railroad arrives in the county, spurring economic growth.
  • 1883 - Tornado destroys much of the town of Spooner.
  • 1895 - The Namekagon River is dammed, creating the Hertel and Hayward dams.
  • 1920s - The logging industry declines, leading to the emergence of tourism as a major economic force.
  • 1960 - The construction of the Trego Dam creates Trego Lake.
  • 1980 - The construction of the Minong Flowage Dam creates the Minong Flowage.
  • 1991 - The Washburn County Historical Society is established.
  • 2004 - The Heartwood Conference Center and Retreat is opened in Trego.
  • 2010 - The county celebrates its sesquicentennial.