Portage County Time Line
1827 thru 1998

Quick Jumps:1850, 1875, 1900, 1925, 1950, 1975

1827 The Treaty of Buttes des Morts decrees that the Yellow Banks at the bend of the Wisconsin at Plover is the dividing line between the land of the Ojibwe to the north and that of the Menominee to the south.
1830 John Baptiste DuBay opens a trading post on the Wisconsin River near the mouth of the Little Eau Pleine.
1832 Daniel Whitney and Amable Grignon are both authorized by the Menominee Indians to build sawmills. 

Whitney builds his mill and, to supply it with equipment and supplies hauled by oxcart, blazes the “Pinery Road” north from Portage to Nekoosa.

1833 The Black Hawk “War” ends; the defeat of the Sauk Indians leads to the opening of land north and west of the Fox-Wisconsin River to white settlement.

From his mill at Nekoosa Daniel Whitney runs the first raft of lumber from northern Wisconsin down the Wisconsin River.

1836 Congress organizes Wisconsin Territory.

The territorial legislature creates “Portage County,” centered around the seat of government at Portage City.

The Menominee Indians sign the “Lumberman’s Treaty,” to allow logging and sawmilling in a three-mile wide strip along the banks of the Wisconsin upstream from Nekoosa to Wausau.

1837 Gilbert Conant and Daniel Campbell build a dam and sawmill at “Conant’s Rapids.”

In Washington D.C. representatives of the Ho-Chunk sign a treaty relinquishing all their land in Wisconsin; many members of the tribe do not accept the treaty and remain in Wisconsin, including the less-settled portions of Portage County.

1839 George Stevens arrives at the head of “Shaurette Rapids” and purchases a log shack built by James Allen to store supplies for his operations upriver. Located on a point of land at the foot of what becomes Main Street, Allen’s cabin was the first building in what became known as “Stevens Point.”

Joshua Hathaway begins to survey the strip of land along the Wisconsin opened to settlement by the “lumbermen’s treaty.”

James Harper and Robert Bloomer build a sawmill at Jordan on the Plover River.

1840 County population: 1,623.

George Stevens builds a sawmill at Wausau and uses “Stevens Point” as a place to launch canoes bearing gear and supplies upstream.

Daniel Campbell makes what is probably the first entry of land in what becomes Portage County at the federal land office in Mineral Point; it is the location of the Conant and Campbell sawmill at “Shaurette Rapids” in Section 7, Town of Linwood on the west bank of the Wisconsin.

1841 George Stevens drives the first raft of lumber from his Wausau mill down the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers to St. Louis.

The borders of Portage County are enlarged to include a block of territory 48 miles wide from Portage City to the boundary of Upper Michigan.

The territorial legislature charters, but does not fund, the “Pinery Road.”

1842 At their first meeting, the commissioners of Portage County set off six election precincts, including one at Andrew Dunn’s mill on Mill Creek in Linwood and another at the house of George Stevens at Wausau.
1844 In a referendum vote decided with the help of rivermen in town for the spring drive, the village of Plover Portage defeats Portage City as the site of the Portage County seat.

Andrew Dunn files a claim to the land that became the public square and surrounding territory in Stevens Point; one year later he sells it to Irish immigrant Andrew Mullarkey, who soon sells it to Mathias Mitchell.

1845  At Stevens Point, Mathias Mitchell opens the Raftsman’s Home hostelry while Abe and Sarah Brawley plant the city’s first garden, an “astonishment” of potatoes and corn.

William Sylvester builds the Marsh House stopping place for travelers on the Pinery Road from Portage City near Grand Marsh in Adams County; the road forks at this point, with one branch running to Nekoosa and another north-northeast to Plover.

The village of Plover is platted, but its post office is identified as that of Plover Portage.

The county board lets a contract to William Dunton to build a wooden frame court house in Moses Strong’s newly platted village of Plover.

At Plover, Robert Wakely disrupts the federal court of Judge David Irwin by getting drunk and riding his horse into the courtroom.

1846 A territorial census finds a total of 933 people in Portage County; the Plover Portage precinct has 162 white males, 40 white females and 2 females of color. 

Columbia County is the first of the central Wisconsin counties to be carved out of greater Portage County.

William H. Johnson builds the first sawmill on Shaurette’s Rapids at Stevens Point; it is soon acquired by Moses Strong.

1847 Mathias Mitchell, James M. Campbell and others organize a school at Stevens Point; they hire Mandana Hale as the first teacher but the school closes after its first season; a few weeks later another school is organized at Plover.

A. L. Sherman and Charles Rice build the American House hotel at Plover Portage.

An unnamed Methodist circuit rider conducts the first recorded Christian religious services in the county at Plover and Stevens Point.

The county commissioners levy a tax of three mills per dollar of valuation for county administration, one mill for the poor, 3.5 mills for roads and 12.25 mills for territorial expenses.

1848 Wisconsin is admitted to the Union as the 30th state.

The legislature creates the towns of Plover, Middletown and Bull Falls in Portage County; each one will send a commissioner to the new county board.

James M. Campbell, Stevens Point, is the county’s representative in the first state legislature.

Moses Strong acquires the sawmill at Conant’s Rapids.

1849 After four years of delay, the county court house in Plover is ready for occupancy.
1850

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County population (including present-day Wood county): 1,250.

Marathon County is organized from the northern towns of Portage County.

Middletown changes its name to the town of “Stephens”Point.

At Springville at the mouth of the Little Plover River, John R. Mitchell builds the first grist and flourmill in the county.

The Almond post office opens for business.

1851 John DuBay establishes the first post office on the Upper Wisconsin at “Eau Pleine,” Albert G. Ellis makes his first visit to Portage County and Father Godhart conducts the first Catholic services on record in the county.

The Buena Vista Tavern opens for business in Section 30, town of Buena Vista.

Peter and Celia Long Graves begin settlement at the village of Amherst.

The county board creates the towns of Almond, named after a village in New York, and Amherst, after a town either in Nova Scotia or New York, George Stevens sells his sawmill at Wausau and moves to Illinois without ever having lived in the city that bears his name.

1852 The town of Eau Pleine, French for “full water” is organized.
1853 The federal land office for northern Wisconsin opens at Stevens Point; Albert Ellis is receiver, Abe Brawley, register; in its first three months, the office records $30,000 of land sales.

John Gill lays a plank road across three miles of wetland to the bank of the Wolf River near Weyauwega and “Gill’s Landing” welcomes its first steamboat carrying passengers and freight bound for Portage County.

Melancthon Wylie establishes a hotel and dance hall on the river just below Du Bay’s post.

At Stevens Point, 14 sawmills are operating, Albert Ellis starts the Wisconsin Pinery, the county’s first newspaper, Valentine Brown operates the first Wisconsin River ferry, and a home-made flag is flown from the new pole mounted in the Public Square on July Fourth.

The Town of Buena Vista is organized.

1854  Jacob Myer begins running a stagecoach line from Gill’s Landing to Plover.

The Northerner side-wheel steamboat is built and launched at Stevens Point and makes its first nine-hour voyage to Mosinee.

Jerome Nelson builds a dam on the Tomorrow River and Nelsonville is born.

1855 On one typical day in spring over three million board feet of lumber are rafted through the county.

St. Stephen’s, Stevens Point, is organized as the first Roman Catholic Church in the county.

The town of Stockton is organized.

1856 Wood County is organized out of the remaining western towns and Portage County settles into its final borders.

The towns of Linden, Lanark, New Hope, Pine Grove and Belmont are organized: Lanark derives from a village in Scotland, Belmont from a village in New York, New Hope from the aspirations of its pioneers, Linden from the tree and Pine Grove from a natural feature.

The Plover Herald publishes its first weekly issue; later known as the Stanton Republican and the Plover Times.

1857 John B. DuBay is tried for the murder of William S. Reynolds at Portage and is freed by a hung jury.

Albert Ellis publishes his Handbook of Stevens Point and the Upper Wisconsin, to encourage settlement in Portage County; it is the first "book" published by a county author.

At Stevens Point, the population approaches 2,000.

The New Hope Lutheran Church is organized as the county’s first Norwegian Lutheran congregation.

The village of Algenon is incorporated; it will later change its name to Stanton, after feminist leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton, then to Plover, then dissolve as a village.

The town of Linden changes its name to Linwood.

County farmers, especially in Plover and Buena Vista lose money in the “Horicon Railroad” swindle.

1858 The Milwaukee and Horicon Railroad reaches Berlin, which becomes a terminus for settlers headed for Portage County.

Marathon county taxpayers fund the construction of a plank road from Wausau to the Portage County line; Portage County taxpayers do not fund to meet it from Stevens Point.

At Amherst, Asa Bancroft and Peter Grover build the “four-story” mill on the Tomorrow that becomes the nucleus of the village and a crowd reported as 2,000 strong attends a revival meeting near Grover’s house.

The town of Hull is organized and the city of Stevens Point is incorporated with William W. Schofield the first mayor.

Volunteers in Stevens Point organize a hook and ladder brigade to fight fires.

1859  The steamer City of Stevens Point makes its first run to Mosinee.

The town of Sharon is organized and named after a fertile plain mentioned in the Old Testament.

1860 County population: 7,507; Stevens Point, 1,538.

Abraham Lincoln is elected President of the United States, carrying Portage County with 944 votes against 471 for Democrat Stephen Douglas; fellow Republican and Plover lumberman Luther Hanchett becomes the first county resident elected to the United States Congress.

At Stevens Point, the first county Teacher’s Institute is held at the White School and fire fighters acquire a hand-powered fire “engine;” it is a Fire King No. 1 model, purchased from the city of Chicago.

The county has 573 farms, with 23,255 “improved” acres; and all county farmland is valued at $689,125; largest crop is summer wheat with 94,125 acres harvested.

1861  The Civil War begins.

The three-member county board votes to provide support of $2 per month to the children of county men volunteering early for service in the war.

The Wisconsin legislature changes the form of county government from townships and supervisors to three districts and commissioners.

1862  Colonel James P. Alban, commander of the 18th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, is slain at the battle of Shiloh.

George W. Hulce is elected as the first county school superintendent to over-see education in rural school districts. Abraham Lincoln signs the Homestead Act, granting low cost federal land to citizens and immigrants.

1863 Portage County soldiers in the 16th Wisconsin Infantry take part in the siege and victory at Vicksburg.

Frank Stout and D.L. Conery begin publication of the Wisconsin Lumberman trade newspaper.

A tornado, remembered as “the big blow” flattens the Buena Vista Tavern, kills three people, injures many more and begins the demise of Buena Vista village.

1864 The town of Grant is organized and named to honor General U. S. Grant. 

Jeweler and gunsmith James Lee leaves Stevens Point to market his newly-invented, bolt-action, breech-loading rifle mechanism; Lee’s invention becomes standard issue for military rifles and is still in use in firearms today.

1865 The Civil War ends.

German settlers organize St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Kellner.

1866 The county’s first Methodist Episcopal church is organized at Plover.
1867 The first bridge across the Wisconsin at Stevens Point is built; it is 500 x 16 feet and costs $16,000.
1868 A slim majority of county voters cast ballots in favor of moving the county seat from Plover to Stevens Point, prompting the city to give $10,000 to the county for the construction of a court house and jail, the first stone buildings of size in the county.

While returning home on the stage from Gill’s Landing Stevens Point cabinet maker Roswell C. Blanchard is mysteriously murdered and his body dumped in the river above Bloomer’s Rapids and not found until spring.

1869 Two of the three county commissioners, Benjamin Burr of Stevens Point and Henry Warriner of Linwood, outvote Isador Samuelson of Almond, and move the county seat from Plover to Stevens Point.

The first county “fair” is held at Amherst.

At Stevens Point, Henry Welty and Martin Perkins install a 121-foot tall “Liberty Pole” on the Public Square and fire fighters acquire a steam-powered, horse-drawn fire engine.

1870 County population: 10,634.

County government reverts to the supervisor system with each town and ward sending one member to the board.

The new county board signs a contract for $28,560 and work begins on the new county court house at Stevens Point.

The county board also establishes the committee system and creates six committees to oversee specific county functions.

E. B. Northrop prints the first issue of the Stevens Point Journal.

Irish settlers construct the first St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Lanark.

1871  The Winnebago and Lake Superior and Portage and Superior Railroads merge to form the Wisconsin Central Railroad, which starts laying track west from Menasha to Amherst, Stevens Point and Junction City.

The Portage County Agricultural Society is chartered by the state legislature.

The county board votes to raise $10,000 if a state normal school is located in the county.

Now in use as a Masonic hall, the first county court house at Plover is destroyed by fire.

1872 Unpaid railroad workers occupy the Wisconsin Central bridge, coat it with tar and threaten to ignite it unless they are paid immiediately; the Central pays and the bridge is saved.

The Stevens Point Boom Co. builds a holding area for logs upstream of the city capable of sorting up to 100 million board feet of logs.

The Green Bay and Western crosses the county via Amherst Junction and Plover.

Millowner and Republican Alexander McDill is elected to the United States Congress.

1873  Thomas and Alexander McDill plat the village bearing their name at the mouth of Big Plover River.

Edward McGlachlin publishes his first weekly issue of the Stevens Point Journal.

A team of School Sisters of Notre Dame open the county’s first Roman Catholic school at Holy Redeemer Mission at Stevens Point.

The Western Union telegraph office opens at Stevens Point.

1874 The Wisconsin Valley Railroad lays track through the towns of Carson and Eau Pleine, bypassing Stevens Point on its way to Wausau.

Trinity Lutheran Church is organized at Stevens Point; German Lutherans hold services on Sunday mornings, Norwegian Lutherans on afternoons; an arrangement that lasts for 24 years.

Nearly 80 million board feet of lumber are manufactured in the county and county farmers raise 135,659 pounds of hops.

Running on the Reform Party ticket, George Cate, is elected to the U. S. Congress.

A total of 19 businesses are destroyed by fire in Stevens Point; the city purchases a new steam-powered fire engine for $4,500.

1875

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After the murder of Sheriff Joseph Baker, Amos and Isaiah Courtwright are taken from the county jail, beaten and lynched from a pine tree on Water Street in Stevens Point.

The state legislature passes the Free High School Law, creating three-year high schools and pledging to provide $500 in aid annually.

The Methodist Episcopal Church is established at Keene.

1876 The county’s first high school is built at Stevens Point.

The Blaine post office, named in honor of the Democratic candidate for President, is established in Belmont.

After his defeat at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, General George A. Custer is memorialized by Stockton residents who change the name of the village of Dawson to Custer.

At one of the first baseball games on record in the county Stevens Point defeats Almond, 25-9.

1877 A new iron highway bridge is built at Stevens Point.

The Wisconsin Central Line from Portage reaches Stevens Point via Bancroft and Plover.

The county board creates the Town of Alban, named after Civil War hero James Alban, and Stevens Point receives a new charter creating its own school board and city school system.

1878 The town of Carson is organized and named after settler Sam Carson.

Edward Glennon founds the Stevens Point Gazette newspaper.

1879 The Almond village district opens the county’s second high school.

The county’s first telephone line is strung from Cadman’s drug store on Main Street to the Wisconsin Central freight depot, Stevens Point.

1880 County population: 17,731; Stevens Point, 4,445.

The highest floodwaters measured on the Wisconsin break the log boom at Stevens Point and flood the city.

Fires destroys the Week Brothers sawmill on the Big Eau Pleine and the operation is moved to Stevens Point as the John Week Company.

1881 The Green Bay and Western builds a spur line from Plover to Stevens Point. 

Tle Plover Times, second oldest newspaper in the county, ceases publication.

Stevens Point posts its first street signs and house numbering system.

Nine in number, the first four-year class graduates from Stevens Point high school.

An electric generator is installed to supply light to the Wisconsin Central shops, Stevens Point.

1882 A post office opens at Crocker’s Landing, Eau Pleine and at Peru in New Hope.

Public telephone service begins in Stevens Point.

With help from local landowners and businessmen, the Green Bay and Western Railroad builds a depot at Arnott.

1883 Law enforcement in Stevens Point changes when the city abandons the old marshal system and hires a chief of police and a police force.
1884 The Stevens Point Eintrachts Verein German singing society is organized. 

Henry Nelson, starts Amherst’s first newspaper, the short-lived Pioneer.

Henry and Thomas Higgins start the Stevens Point gas plant to light the streets of Stevens Point

1885 At Stevens Point: the First National Bank is organized; the Central Roller Rink opens; the first Great District Fair is held, with horse racing the featured event; S. A. Sherman demonstrates electric lighting by installing bulbs in the dome of the county court house and atop the Liberty Pole in the Public Square.
1886 The Wisconsin Central moves most of its shops and roundhouse out of Stevens Point.

Three sawyers at the Bosworth and Reilly shingle mill in Stevens Point go on strike for a pay raise from $1.75 to $2.00 a day; they are fired.

1887 The New Hope Norwegian Mutual Insurance Company is organized to sell insurance only to Norwegians.

The Stevens Point School Board assumes control of the local library and moves its 200 books to the high school

1888 The county board passes a resolution asking the state to appropriate $1,000 to remove the “logs, brush, trees and other obstructions” out of Buena Vista Creek so “10,000 acres” of unclaimed hay marsh might be opened to cultivation.

The state offers funds to rural school districts to establish libraries in country schools.

Stevens Point native Walt Wilmot begins his ten-year major league baseball career with the Washington Senators.

The New Hope Norwegian Mutual Insurance Company changes its by-laws to enable it to sell insurance to Americans and Germans too.

1889 Stevens Point has running water for drinking and fire fighting furnished by John Gray, with a pump to take water out of the river and standpipe to equalize pressure located on the river at Waterworks Park.

Three lives are lost in the fire that destroys the St. James Hotel, Stevens Point.

With the supply of trees dwindling, the last drive of pine logs to the McDill dam takes place on the Plover River

The Wisconsin legislature passes the Bennett Law requiring that English reading and writing by taught daily in all public and parochial schools and stiffening the mandatory attendance provisions of the law.

1890 County population: 24,798; Stevens Point, 7,896.

County voters help defeat the Bennett school law and elect George Peck as the first Democrat Governor since the 1850s.

The county has 2,626 farms and over 140,000 “improved” acres.

1891 The Amherst village school district builds a new two-story brick school and starts the county’s third high school: the district is also awarded the county Arbor Day prize of $14.28 from the state.

John Harkness opens one of the first creameries in the county at Amherst. 

Streets in downtown Stevens Point are paved with cedar blocks.

1892 At Stevens Point, Carl Rebenstein establishes the Post, a German language weekly newspaper and Steven Hutter starts the Polish language Rolnik

After running sawmills since 1874, F. M. Copps, gives up the lumber business and opens a wholesale flour, feed, hay, grain and coal business at Stevens Point.

Fire all but destroys the Stevens Point high school.

286 workers at three Stevens Point sawmills go on strike to reduce the work day from eleven to ten hours and get a pay raise; after a five day strike, the work day is reduced to ten hours and unskilled laborers receive a pay hike of 12.5 cents.

1893 The International Bank of Amherst is organized and the Amherst Advocate, edited by Harriet Moberg and teacher Spencer Haven, begins weekly publication.

At Stevens Point, Vetter Manufacturing begins operations, and the Wisconsin Pinery, the county’s oldest newspaper, publishes its last issue.

In Plover, George Whiting organizes the Plover Paper Company and builds a mill; in Stevens Point the Wisconsin River Paper and Pulp Company begins operations. 

Farmer James Isherwood, Plover, is the first county farmer on record to use a cream separator to make butter for the Stevens Point market.

The county board appropriates $30,000 to the state of Wisconsin on condition that a Normal School be located in the county.

1894 Wisconsin opens its sixth Normal School for teacher training at Stevens Point.

The Green Bay and Western runs four passenger trains at Stevens Point.

2,717 county voters help elect Republican candidate and Marshfield businessman William H. Upham as governor; 2,703 vote for incumbent Democrat William H. Peck.

Henry Reading makes the last drive of logs on the Plover to Jordan.

1895 Portage is the only county in Wisconsin to raise over one million bushels of potatoes; the 1.08 million bushels are valued at $426,146.

Nelsonville area farmers organize the Farmers’ Cooperative Dairy Association, and build the first co-op creamery in the county, followed shortly after by New Hope farmers who organize the Peru Creamery.

At Stevens Point, the Women’s Club is organized and the weekly Stevens Point Journal becomes the Stevens Point Daily Journal.

The county board votes to print its proceedings in German, Polish and English.

1896 The Portage County Graphite and Mineral Paint Manufacturing Co. is organized to utilize graphite discovered in Eau Pleine.

At Stevens Point, Jack and daughter Carrie Frost begin the Frost Fishing Tackle Co.

In its first year of operation, the Nelsonville co-op creamery produces 21,000 pounds of butter.

In the Town of Almond, the Hetzel post office and the Almond Creamery open.

1897 Stacia Livingston defeats Andrew Een in the election for County School Superintendent to become the first female to hold elective office in the county.

John J. Bukolt designs the “original self-swinging crib” and founds what becomes the Lullabye Cradle Co.

The Stevens Point public library opens with 1,550 registered borrowers and a first-year circulation of 29,084.

With Amos Ricker as president, Buena Vista farmers organize the Lone Star Creamery.

200 bicyclists take part in a ride from the Public Square in Stevens Point to the Hotel Warner in Plover.

1898 The Spanish-American war begins and ends; county men serve with the 4th Wisconsin Volunteers.

The Stevens Point Eintrachts Verein, or Good Fellowship Association, hosts the Saengerfest German musical fest. 

Carrie Frost opens a new factory to produce fly-fishing tackle.

Amherst residents vote to incorporate a village.

The Portage County Drainage District is incorporated to drain land along Buena Vista and Ten Mile Creek in Grant, Buena Vista and Plover.

1899 Robbers blow the safe with nitroglycerin and make off with $5,000 from the International Bank of Amherst.

The town of Dewey is organized and named after the Spanish War naval hero.

With D. W. Sawyer as president, Belmont farmers organize the Blame Creamery and, with M. R. Hetzel, as president, Almond farmers organize the Hetzel Creamery.

The county board resolves to create a poor farm and examines twelve offers of land and buildings ranging in price from $3,900 for 300 acres plus buildings and equipment in Linwood to $13,000 for 302 acres plus buildings and equipment just outside Stevens Point

1900

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County population: 30,945; Stevens Point, 9,524; Sharon, 2,225; of eligible voters, all male, 3,661 are native-born, 3,551 foreign-born, with Poles the largest number of foreign born.

Robert M. La Follette whistle stops through the county on his successful campaign for governor; the county casts 3,271 votes for La Follette, 2,645 for Democrat Louis Bomrich.

Registered purebred dairy cattle come to the county when L. L. Loberg, Amherst, purchases two cows, two heifers and a bull, all pure Guernseys. 

Smith Harroun gets the contract for the county’s first rural mail delivery route; it runs from Plover to Liberty Corners, St. Patrick’s Church, Carey Corners and back.

The county’s first auto is demonstrated at Stevens Point - an electric-powered, single seat Western.

Electric lights switch on in Amherst with power now furnished from a dynamo installed at the Red Mill.

The county poor farm opens as a working farm on 200 acres in the Town of Amherst with an average of twenty “inmates” in residence.

1901 The Chicago and North Western Railroad extends its line from Wild Rose to Wisconsin Rapids; Kellner is born, Bancroft blooms, and Almond booms, with a new weekly, the Portage County Press and the new Portage County Bank.

The county’s first rural free delivery mail route serves 1,125 people on a thirty mile route out from the Plover post office.

Stevens Point realtor John Heffron establishes a community in the Town of Belmont that he markets to Chicago Polish; a post office opens and St. John’s Catholic Church.

Robbers blast the safe and rob the new bank at Almond of $48 in nickels and $100 in silver.

Papermakers fail in their attempt to organize a union at George Whiting’s Wisconsin River Pulp and Paper Co.

The Stevens Point Brewing Co. is organized

1902 The Glad Tidings Chapel Car of the Baptist church arrives at Bancroft and the missionaries found the First Baptist Church on land donated by Sarah Rich. 

The Bancroft Creamery opens and, at Polonia, the Sharon Creamery makes its first butter.

The new Amherst Opera House opens its doors.

An automobile is the featured attraction at the Stevens Point Fair.

Sportsmen organize the county’s first conservation organization, the Portage County Fish and Game Protective Association.

1903 Socialist political leader Eugene V. Debs delivers an oration at Stevens Point.

The Chicago and North Western Railroad builds a spur from Elderon and the village of Rosholt booms.

In Amherst Junction, the Security State Bank opens for business and, at Amherst, the Telephone Company begins service to the village and nearby farms.

Equipped with a portable electric generator, Plover’s Walter Barnsdale brings moving picture shows to rural communities in central Wisconsin.

A “cyclone” roars through Buena Vista, Lanark, Almond and Pine Grove, prompting town boards to ask the county supervisors for $6,000 in aid for “the sufferers.”

1904  At Stevens Point, John Bukolt organizes the Automatic Cradle Manufacturing Co., the Beth Israel Jewish Congregation begins worship services and the city builds a library with help from the Carnegie Foundation.

Buena Vista farmers organize the Union Creamery in a building near St. Martin’s church.

Rosholt’s first newspaper, the Echo, begins publication; Rosholt will have a weekly on and off until 1930.

1905  County farmers raise 3.2 million bushels of potatoes.

The village of Almond incorporates. ‘The Portage County Drainage District begins operations in Buena Vista, Grant and Pine Grove; extensive acreage in the district is purchased by the Bradley Polytechnic Institute of Illinois.

The Stevens Point Lighting Company moves its main power plant to the Plover River at Jordan.

1906  The county has 3,117 farms and 184,350 acres “improved” for farming; plus 15,066 milk cows producing, 788,000 gallons of milk.

The River Pines Tuberculosis Sanitarium opens in Whiting.

George Allen opens the Ellis Creamery.

1907  The village of Rosholt is incorporated.

The state rejects the county’s application to build a county “insane asylum” on the grounds of the Poor Farm, since it requires a minimum of 400 acres and the county farm is only 200.

1908  The Stevens Point Eintrachts Verein, or Good Fellowship Association, hosts the Saengerfest German musical festival for the second time.

Steven and Joseph Worzalla publish the first issue of the Gwidza Polarna Polish language newspaper at Stevens Point.

1909  At Junction City, the State Bank is organized.

The Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad, the Soo Line, acquires the Wisconsin Central Railroad.

1910  County population: 29,483

Tax assessors report the county has 9, 225 horses and 54 automobiles.

The county has 26 rural mail routes, including seven from Stevens Point and one each from Bancroft, Custer, Dancy and Polonia.

The Soo Line relocates its division headquarters at Stevens Point and brings 250 jobs back to the city.

1911  Floodwaters submerge much of the west and north sides of Stevens Point. 

Andrew Een, county superintendent of schools for 23 years, retires and is succeeded by Francis Bannach.

The state highway commission appoints Thomas Cauley as the first county highway commissioner.

George Soik builds the Independent Creamery at Stevens Point.

The villages of Amherst and Junction City are incorporated.

Wallie Coddington plats the village of Pine Island on a high spot in the Buena Vista Marsh then renames the village “Coddington.”

The Stevens Point school system begins an “industrial education” program.

1912  With P.J. Jacobs as secretary, the Hardware Dealers Fire Insurance Company moves to Stevens Point.

At Stevens Point, French aviator Franco Castory, a touring exhibition pilot, flies a “radio” equipped Curtiss biplane, the first airplane to fly in Portage County.

The village of Amherst replaces its wooden sidewalks with concrete.

The Bancroft State Bank opens for business.

By order of the U. S. Post Office, the village of Pine Island is renamed Coddington.

1913  The village of Nelsonville is incorporated.

St. Michael’s Hospital opens at Stevens Point.

The county has 118 one-room rural schools, all but three of which qualify for state aid as “first-class” schools.

1914  World War I begins in Europe.

The Wisconsin Hardware Association organizes a limited liability insurance company, later known as Hardware Mutual Casualty, to provide coverage for workers in association with the Hardware Dealers Fire Insurance Company.

The first county commencement exercises are held for students earning their eighth-grade diplomas in the rural schools; ceremonies for the 114 graduates are held at the Normal School so the “boys and girls take more pride in completing the course in rural schools.”

The county board elects Thomas Cauley county highway commissioner for the first time.

1915  Headed by Edward McGlachlin, the Stevens Point Park Commission is organized.

Highway Commissioner Thomas Cauley presents his first report; due to a new state statute the county must maintain all state aided roads, paved or not; he then asks the county to double its appropriation for maintenance to $4,000.

1916  J.M. Coyner hires on as the county’s first Agricultural Agent.

Due to wartime demand, the price of potatoes hits a then record high of $2.25 a bushel.

The county has 778 autos registered within its borders.

At Stevens Point, John Clifford opens the 499-seat Lyric Theater, the county’s second movie theater.

The University of Wisconsin Hancock Experimental Station opens its marshland field station at Coddington.

The John Strange sulfite pulp mill begins operations at McDill and is soon well-known as the “Stink Mill.”

1917  The U. S. enters World War I.

At Stevens Point, an estimated 4,000 marchers take part in “the greatest parade in the history of Portage County,” to mark American entry into the war.

The first concrete road in Portage County runs between the paper mills in Plover.

The Pure Seed and Home Power Special train stops at Stockton, Plover and Stevens Point, so farmers can see exhibits and attend lectures on modern farming.

The state trunk highway system is laid out in the county; routes evolve into Highways 51, 10 and 54.

1918  World War I ends; 50 county men die in service, 32 of Spanish flu.

The Amherst Electric Service Company brings electric power to the village.

The Consolidated Water Power and Paper Company builds a new paper mill at Stevens Point.

As a wartime measure, the brewing of beer is banned and the Stevens Point Brewery closes.

For the second year in a row, a frost on September 9 seriously damages crops in the county.

1919  The Spanish influenza epidemic subsides after claiming 130 lives in Portage County.

The federal and state governments enact legislation prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages; the Prohibition era begins.

The state enacts legislation requiring that all rural schools have names.

‘Stevens Point purchases land for its first park and names it in honor of Edward McGlachlin.

Obsolete now, the old Jackson mill at Shaurette’s Rapids is destroyed by dynamite.

Papermakers organize a union local at Consolidated’s Stevens Point Division; one of the first papermaker locals in the Wisconsin River Valley.

The state highway commission counts 1,478 vehicles crossing the intersection of three state highways at Plover; only 82 are horse-drawn.

1920  County population: 33,649; only 16,364 live on farms; first census period in which less that 50% of county people live on farms.

In the September primary, Wisconsin women vote for the first time in federal, state and all local elections; in November county men and women vote two-to-one in favor of Warren

The infamous “Stink Mill” at McDill, which introduced the odor of sulphite papermaking to the county.

Harding for president; the total number of votes is one-third larger than in 1916.

With Prohibition laws enacted, the Stevens Point Beverage Co. produces low-alcohol “near-beer” and malt tonic.

The Portage County Fish and Game Association buys a Model T Ford for game warden Frank Hornberg to use on patrol.

1921  The county has 3,362 registered autos; the total in 1910 was 54.

Stevens Point purchases its first truck, a Four Wheel Drive Model B with hard rubber tires.

County highway department will supply equipment and labor for any “local unit or individuals” wishing to pay for snow removal on the highways in the coming winter.

At Stevens Point, Oscar Weber starts the Weber Life-like Fly Co.

Post-war agricultural depression begins; price of milk falls to $1.64 cwt., down from $2.82 in 1919.

1922  Stevens Point purchases the privately-owned riverfront waterworks and furnishes water from its own wells in the Plover River valley. Harry Noble begins his long career as county ag agent.

The Washington Birthday ice storm downs power poles, phone lines and trees throughout central Wisconsin.

1923  The Stevens Point Women’s Club sponsors the creation of South Side Park as a memorial to veterans of World War I.

Led by Bill Cook and Oscar Weber, the Fish and Game Protective Association becomes a chapter of the Izaak Walton Society.

At Stevens Point, the “last” great spring drive on the Wisconsin bring logs to the John Week Co. mill; the Gazette newspaper publishes its last issue and fire destroys the Main Street bridge.

Concerned about violations of prohibition ordinances, traffic laws and other standards, the county board enacts an ordinance regulating conduct at “dance halls” in rural areas.

1924  The county has 3,216 farms; average size is 125 acres.

About 300 county farms have electric power; about one-half are on power lines, one-half have home electric power plants; over 1,200 farms have telephones and 1,600 have phono-graphs.

Urged by members of Sacred Heart parish, an electric power line is run from Jordan to Polonia; farms and businesses along the line sign up for service.

Radio station WLBL begins broadcasting.

Ludwig Korfman purchases the Stevens Point Beverage Company.

1925

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 County farmers produce a record of 3,159 pound of cheese.

The Amherst Telephone Co. expands by buying the Nelsonville and Rosholt
exchanges and serving rural users in between.

To accommodate tourists in autos, Waterworks Park is improved to handle tent campers.

The first English language services are conducted at the St. John’s Lutheran, Kellner.

1926  A concrete bridge across the Wisconsin is completed at Stevens Point. 

The Stevens Point High School basketball team wins its first state championship, by a score of 9 to 7. 

William Schwartze begins publishing the Rosholt Community Press newspaper.

1927  At Rosholt, the Free Community Fair Association is organized and the first Labor Day fair is held. 

The Stevens Point Country Club opens a nine-hole golf course at Plover Hills; the first in the county. ‘The Stevens Point Normal School is renamed the Central State Teachers College.

1928  After a campaign led by E.A. Oberweiser and Alex Wallace, Stevens Point adopts the city-manager form of government.

The local Izaak Walton Chapter begin rearing trout in the basement of the Sellars Hotel at Stevens Point. 

The Stevens Point Airways Corporation purchases 67 acres on the northeastern edge of the city for an airport; the new field hosts the Second Wisconsin Commercial Airplane Tour, featuring a cargo of low-alcohol beverages from Milwaukee. 

Although less than 10% of county roads are paved, over 90% of county farmers own autos and 20% own trucks.

A late February storm socks in the county; all attempts to open Highway 66 from Stevens Point to Rosholt are “abandoned for the season."

1929  Led by Marion Bannach, the Plover Harmonica Band performs on the radio from Chicago.
Fire destroys the John Week lumber mill at Stevens Point.

The Rosholt fair becomes the official Portage County Fair.

Hardware Mutual Insurance builds an impressive classical-style office building in Stevens Point.

The crash of the New York stock market signals the start of the Great Depression.

Since the county is “without adequate protection against crime and lawlessness” the county board allots $1,800 for the sheriff to buy firearms for thirty deputies or “vigilantes” to be on call when needed.

1930  County population: 33,827

County farmers set a record for butter production with over 4.7 million pounds made.

County resident George Nelson is named to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Stunt pilot Virginia Whittlesey, Wisconsin Rapids, is the featured attraction at the Legion Air Show in Stevens Point; the aviators are later featured guests at Amherst’s Dreamland Ballroom.

Highway 66 is paved from Stevens Point to Rosholt.

1931  The price of potatoes falls to 25 cents per bushel; about one-third of county farm income comes from potatoes.

The Wisconsin State Bank, Stevens Point, fails.

Due to the large number of people applying for relief, the county board issues $45,000 in bonds to erect a “County Almshouse” to house the poor.

The county board budgets $277,921 for 1932, then learns that income from taxes has fallen by $33,400.

1932  1,442 county residents are on “public relief.”

The county board passes resolutions requesting county officials to voluntarily accept a 15% pay cut; reduces the number of supervising teachers to one and asks the state to lower the minimum wage paid to rural school teachers from $75 to $50 per month.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president with the help of 9,195 Portage County votes; Republican Herbert Hoover gets 3,334 votes.

1933  Prohibition ends; Stevens Point Beverage Co. opens in the plant of old Stevens Point Brewery.

New Deal economic relief programs begin nationwide; county people participate in the Civilian Conservation Corps, and numerous farm relief and public works projects.

In order to dramatize the need for dairy herd improvement, county agent Harry Noble puts a scrub bull on “trial” on the Public Square; the animal is found guilty and condemned to capital punishment.

The worst period of drought on record begins in the autumn and carries over the winter.

1934  3,322 county residents, nearly 10% of the total, receive public relief.

In May, high winds and dry weather cause the most severe dust storm on record in Wisconsin, ‘Portage County farmers take part in numerous depression and drought relief programs including the Central Wisconsin Shelterbelt Project, the first regional wind erosion control program in the United States.

The Krogwold Brothers, New Hope, and Andrew Stanislawski, Alban, become the first county farmers to raise potatoes on irrigated land.

1935  Jules Iverson donates land to Stevens Point for a park named in his honor.

The Consolidated Credit Union begins life as the first credit union in the county.

Congress passes the Wagner Act, establishing the National Labor Relations Board, and encouraging union activity nationwide; teamsters union organizes at Stevens Point.

Stevens Point receives a federal grant to build a hangar and make other improvements, in response to which the city purchases the Stevens Point Airways Corporation airport.

Work is underway to channel Moses Creek underground and fill the Slough in Stevens Point.

State revenue agents “bust” the Portage County Liquor Syndicate, smashing the illegal distillery in Carson, arresting and sending eleven men to prison.

1936  As a result of the new federal Social Security program, Portage County creates a county pension department and a department of public welfare.

The first meeting of the Central Labor Council is held at Stevens Point.

Stevens Point rededicates its Water-works Park in honor of inventor and industrialist John Bukolt.

After a boy is injured on July 4th, Stevens Point bans fireworks and advocates urge the county to adopt a similar ordinance; they fail and in less than one year, the city ordinance is rescinded.

1937  Henry Brooks organizes the Central State Telephone Co, which serves much of northwestern Portage County and portions of Wood County.

Portage County has 127 separate school districts, with most of them consisting of a single one-room school: municipal districts operate at Stevens Point, Bancroft, Almond, Amherst and Rosholt.

The county has 25,400 cows making milk for ten cheese factories producing 1.2 million pounds, nearly all of it “American” cheese plus nine creameries producing 3.4 million pounds of butter.

Workers organize a local of the paper workers union at Consolidated’s Wisconsin River Division.

1938  The P. J. Jacobs high school and the Division Street underpass beneath the Soo Line tracks are built at Stevens Point.

The village of Park Ridge is incorpo-rated.

Irene Skutley hires on as the first county home Extension agent.

Lucille and Felix Gauthier open the McDill Airport on 78 acres southeast of Stevens Point.

The Wisconsin River Hydro Authority is organized and proposes a vast reservoir, flowage and dam system to be constructed on the Wisconsin, Little Eau Pleine and Big Eau Pleine Rivers in northern Portage and southern Marathon County.

1939  With the German invasion of Poland, World War II begins in Europe.

The Central Labor Council, Stevens Point, passes a resolution against weakening the Neutrality act that bans the export of munitions to countries at war.

Portage County is the state’s leading producer of potatoes and annual rye.

Wood County dams Four Mile Creek to create Lake Wazeecha with water from southern Portage County. 

Stevens Point passes an ordinance limiting the number of taverns in the city to 39, about one for every 900 residents.

1940  County population: 35,800. ‘The county has 2,869 farms, the smallest number since the 1890s; value of farms has declined 50% since 1920. 

Radio station WFHR begins broadcasting.

Work begins on the DuBay dam and power station.

1941 At Stevens Point, the landmark Bruce Hotel is razed and the city receives a federal grant to build a new airport northeast of the city. 

Eighty-two teachers petition the Stevens Point school board to end the 10% pay cut they have been working under since 1932. 

After the Japanese attack on American bases in the Pacific, the United States enters World War II.

1942  Portage County has the highest percentage of draft-age farm men in the military of any county in Wisconsin. 

Year-round daylight saving time begins; county schools open on Saturday so children can work on farms in spring and fall; the manufacture of new civilian autos is banned; rationing begins, Portage County is allotted 17 auto tires, 44 heavy truck tires. 

The state legislature enacts the “Callahan consolidation law,” to encourage the closing and merger of small rural school districts; school district reorganization begins. 

The new Stevens Point Airport is dedicated, with Lucille Gauthier honored to make the first landing.

1943  The Four Wheel Drive truck company leases the new county highway garage to assemble heavy duty trucks for the United States Marines.

A naval and army pilot training school begins at Central State College, Stevens Point with flight school at the new city airport.

1944  Portage County raises over $8 million in war bond drives.

School district reorganization continues: the Towns of Dewey, Grant and Eau Pleine organize township districts and reduce the number of schools in their borders.

1945  World War II ends: over 3,500 county men and sixty-three women served; 120 men died in service.

The movie version of the novel, “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes,” is screened; it is based on reminiscenses of life in New Hope and stars Margaret O’Brien and Edward G. Robinson; screenplay by soon to be blacklisted author Dalton Trumbo.

1946  The Soo Line abandons the “P” line from Stevens Point to Portage.

A. E. Padags attempts to launch “North Central Airlines” at Stevens Point; dubbed “The Indian Trail Route,” the airline makes only one promotional flight to Milwaukee.

School district reorganization continues: the town of Plover organizes a township district and reduces the number of schools there.

1947  After choosing not to retain the name McDill, voters incorporate the village of Whiting.

Irwin Denkmann founds Junction City’s first and only newspaper, the Community Press.

The Green Bay and Western discontinues passenger service in the county, but landing lights are installed to facilitate night service at the Stevens Point airport.

Obeying a new state mandate, the county board creates a county school committee to supervise reorganization of school districts.

1948  Responding to the post-war shortage, Stevens Point builders complete $761,570 worth of new housing.

The county school committee’s first consolidated school system is established when 16 local districts are merged to form the Tomorrow River School District at Amherst; a few months later, six local districts merge to form the Rosholt School District.

Senator Joseph McCarthy visits the county for Armistice Day events.

Evans Radio Corp. launches radio station WSPT.

The Rosholt high school is destroyed by fire; loss estimated at $35,000.

1949  Wisconsin Central Airlines begins the first scheduled airline service to Stevens Point.

The county’s first parking meters are installed at Stevens Point.

The Stevens Point Common Council votes to begin fluoridation of the water system.

School reorganizations continue with 6 local districts merged into the Almond School District.

Four of five county farmers are exclusively dairy farmers while three of every one hundred are exclusively potato growers.

1950

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 County population: 34,858.

The Korean War begins.

Led by activist Alex Wallace, Stevens Point votes to end fluoridation of the water system.

Almond farmer Jim Burns drills the first well in the county used to irrigate crops.

The Stevens Point Industrial Development Corp. is organized and purchases land for an industrial park on the south side of the city.

1951  One person dies and two are seriously injured when the Lipman Store explodes in Stevens Point.

The Central State Teachers College is renamed Wisconsin State College at Stevens Point.

1952  Portage County helps elect Dwight Eisenhower president; “Ike” polls 8,499 votes againt 7,537 for Democrat Adlai Stevenson; county also votes to re-elect Senator Joseph McCarthy by about the same margin.
1953  The Korean War ends; 14 Portage County men die in service.

The television era beings when stations in Wausau, Green Bay and Eau Claire receive licenses to broadcast and send their signals to Portage County. 

Newby’s Trailer Park, the county’s first, opens in Plover.

The State Highway Commission relocates Highway 51 from Church to Division Street in Stevens Point.

1954  The county has 45 school districts with 69 school buildings, 57 of them one-room rural schools, 9 of which were built prior to 1900; 600 high school students do not live in a high school district and their towns are charged fees totaling more than $144,000 so they can attend a city or village high school.

School district reorganization continues: all one-room schools are closed in the Whiting/Plover district and all of Almond’s elementary students are in one “integrated” school building. 

Environmentalists Frances and Frederick Hamerstrom announce plans to restore prairie chicken habitat and prairie chickens on the Buena Vista Marsh.

Anton and Harriet Domaszek install the county’s first bulk milk tank on their dairy farm.

The Green Bay Packers hold a training camp at Wisconsin State College.

1955  Stevens Point and Portage County agree to build a joint city-county building.

‘Damage was considerable,” from wind erosion in May; “plowed fields had the appearance of a heavy haze or smoke for hour after hour.”

The old “Stink Mill,” at McDill is demolished and the land turned into a park.

School district reorganization continues: Stockton is dissolved, Arnott, Hall and Prairie districts are merged: Coddington split between Bancroft and Whiting/Plover/Buena Vista; all five Town of Grant one-room schools merged into one “central school.”

1956  May Roach retires after teaching for 50 years, 42 in rural schools. 

The Chicago and North Western abandons its line from Rosholt to Eland.

Business leaders organize the Stevens Point Industrial Development Corpo-ration.

The Wisconsin Lions Foundation establishes a summer camp for blind children at “Kiolbassa Lake” in Alban.

A tornado blowing from Bancroft to Fancher kills two people and injures two more. 

School district reorganization continues; seven districts merge in Stevens Point after the Central State College Rural Demonstration School closes.

1957  The old county court house is razed to make room for the new building. 

The county has 1,977 farms, mostly dairy farmers who tend 19,800 milk cows. 

With about 75 irrigation units at work in the county, the Okray and Wysocki families drill the county’s first deep wells for irrigation. 

Business people from Stevens Point, Marshfield and Wisconsin Rapids begin talks about joining with Wausau to build a “tri-county” airport. Stevens Point and Portage county people are willing, as are Wausau and Marathon county, but Wood county is not interested.

Dial telephone service begins at Stevens Point and parking meters are installed on the Public Square.

1958  Stevens Point celebrates its Centennial as a city.

The Wisconsin Interscholatic Athletic Association moves its headquarters to Stevens Point.

Okray Farms installs the first gravel pack irrigation well in the county; fifty other such wells are soon operating. 

In support of the workers involved in the bitter strike at the Kohler Co., the Central Labor Council is successful in prohibiting the use of Kohler fixtures in the new city-county building.

Local television came to Portage County from Wausau in 1953.

1959  At Stevens Point, North Division Street is widened.
1960  County population: 36,964 ‘Robert F. Kennedy campaigns in the county and, with help from Portage County voters, John F. Kennedy is elected President.

The Polish-language publication, Rolnik halts

1961  Local National Guardsmen are activated for the Berlin Crisis. ‘Plans are announced to replace the old Stevens Point post office with a modem facility.
1962  The “all area high school law” takes effect, mandating that all rural schools be included in a consolidated high school district. 

The Amherst Telephone Co. begins dial service.

1963  The Supreme Court’s “one-man, one-vote” ruling forces the redistricting of county and municipal election districts. 

Dutch elm disease is detected at Stevens Point as a serious threat to the city’s 9,000 elms.

1964  The Wisconsin State College becomes the Wisconsin State University at Stevens Point. 

Closed since 1957, the Lyric Theater, Stevens Point, is razed to make room for a new Woolworth’s store.

1965  Voters defeat a referendum to incorporate a village at Plover. 

The Jordan hydroelectric plant halts operations.

1966  At Nelsonville, the county’s last manually-operated telephone exchange is replaced by dial service. 

The Portage County Housing Authority is organized to provide housing for senior citizens.

The Del Monte Co. opens a large vegetable processing plant at Plover.

1967  The central Wisconsin Vocational Technical Adult Education District is organized.

Margery Albers begins the music curriculum that evolves into the American Suzuki Institute at Stevens Point.

With aid from organizations and individuals a total of 9,000 acres is set aside for prairie chicken habitat on the Buena Vista Marsh.

1968  Wisconsin State University students protest against American involvement in Vietnam and rally against a visit by Presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey to the campus.
1969  With two-thirds of its funding from Marathon County and one-third from Portage, the Central Wisconsin Airport opens at Mosinee.

Okray Farms installs the county’s first high clearance center pivot irrigator.

1970  County population: 47,541. 

Wisconsin State University students protest the American bombing of Cambodia and the shooting of students by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio.

Fish contaminated with mercury are detected in the Wisconsin River and restrictions are placed on sport fishing. 

A building trades union strike delays completion of the new Stevens Point Area High School.

1971  The new Stevens Point Area High School building welcomes its first students.

A high-rise housing facility opens for senior citizens on the river at Stevens Point.

Hardware Mutual changes its name to Sentry Insurance.

WSU professor George Becker predicts that increased use of irrigation will dry up county streams.

1972  Presidential candidate Hubert H. Humphrey visits the county and addresses farmers from atop a hay wagon in Arnott.
1973  The state purchases 5,100 acres to create the Dewey Marsh State Wildlife Area.

In response to the possibility that a nuclear power plant may be constructed near Rudolph, Naomi Jacobsen, Gertrude Dixon and others organize LAND, the League Against Nuclear Disaster.

1974  The Vietnam War ends; 14 county men die while in service.

A winter kill of 2,000 fish is reported on the Eau Pleine Reservoir.

The American Potato Company opens a processing plant in Plover.

Portage County purchases land and removes houses to create a park to protect Indian mounds at Lake Emily.

1975

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 Since little of the McDill pond is in the village limits, Whiting proposes abandoning the McDill dam to ease the village tax burden.

The Chicago and North Western abandons its line from Wisconsin Rapids to Bancroft.

The J. H. Morgan House, Plover, and the David McMillan House, Stevens Point, are the first and second county listings in the National Register of Historic Places.

1976  Portage County celebrates the United States Bicentennial.

The first National Wellness Confer-ence is held at Stevens Point.

Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, soon to be Pope John Paul II, visits the county.

Fire destroys 5,000 acres of the Dewey Marsh.

1977  Enrollment at UWSP reaches 8,900 students.

Fire destroys 7,000 acres in southeastern Wood County and the Town of Grant in Portage County. 

Irrigators capable of watering the corners of center pivot irrigated fields are first used in the county.

1978  University Chancellor Lee Sherman Dreyfus becomes the first county resident to be elected Governor of Wisconsin. 

The state of Wisconsin shuts down the Whiting village water system because of high levels of nitrates.

1979 Ore-Ida Foods opens a vegetable potato processing plant in Plover.

County resident William Bablitch is elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

1980 County population: 57,421

The number of people employed in agriculture in the county drops to a low of 1,690.

1982 With the national economy in recession, the county unemployment rate reaches 8.2%.

Gross farm sales exceed $90 million, with about one-half coming from vegetables.

1983 Stevens Point celebrates its 125th Anniversary as a city.

Celestial Farms opens a potato processing plant at Plover.

The “New Hope Pines” white pine woodlot becomes a state natural area.

1984 The Manufacturers Direct Mall and Outlet Center opens at Plover. 

Farm debt loads increase to an average of $116,000 on average assets of $344,000.

1985 The Center Point Mall opens at Stevens Point.

The county adopts a Farmland Preservation Plan to regulate rural development and help farmers remain on the land.

The final services are held at the Beth Israel Synagogue.

1986 Hmong immigrants from Southeast Asia begin to settle in Stevens Point.

Portage County has 1,110 farms and 287,000 acres of farmland.

1988  County farmers are beset by drought and a tough economy.
1990 County population: 61,405; Village of Plover, 8,176.

After a court battle, Stevens Point succeeds in annexing valuable commercial property along Highway 10 east of Highway 39/51.

1991  The Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame opens at the UWSP.

State Highway 10 from Amherst to Stevens Point is upgraded. 

Several power generation companies announce plans to build a new generating plant in the Town of Plover. 

Residents organize POWER, a group opposing the construction of high power electric transmission lines in the county.

1992  A new county library is constructed in downtown Stevens Point.

Stevens Point native Suzy Favor makes her first of two appearances in the International Olympic Games. 

Portage County marks its Sesquicentennial.

1993  Development accelerates on Highway 10 east of Highways 39/51.
1996  After 92 years at Stevens Point, Normington Dry Cleaners closes. 

UWSP and the village of Plover begin work to restore a remnant of native pine savanna landscape along the Plover River.

1998  County population (est.): 64,490; Village of Plover, 10,515 

Work begins on the county’s second highway bridge across the Wisconsin on County HH in Stevens Point. 

At Plover, old St. Bronislava church is demolished.

Portage County helps the state celebrate its Sesquicentennial.

Quick Jumps: 1850, 1875, 1900, 1925, 1950, 1975