“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Wisconsin Facts and Figures

Gleaned from the Historical Marker Database


on February 9, 2023

1876 artwork by Henry Mitchell, via Wikipedia Commons

 Wisconsin ranks 20th among states and provinces with markers in this database. Wisconsin is a state in the United States of America located in the American Midwest. It is also in the Great Lakes region. Wisconsin is some 65 thousand square miles in size with a population of around 5.8 million people. The state is divided into 72 counties and 71 of them have entries in this database. In Wisconsin we have discovered historical markers in 535 cities and towns lying in 490 different ZIP Codes.

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There are at least 3,017 historical markers in Wisconsin, by our count. We have cataloged 3,012 historical markers and 124 war memorials—each individually presented on 3,099 illustrated, annotated, and searchable pages of the Historical Marker Database. Pages for historical markers from this state make up 1.6% of our total. In addition, we are reasonably certain of another five historical markers in Wisconsin that we don’t yet have, and instead show on our Want List. Our correspondents have been finding and adding hundreds of markers a month to the database from all over the world, so next time you visit this page you will probably find that the numbers here have changed.

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The first Wisconsin marker in the database, Ringling Brothers Circus, was added April 8, 2007. It was photographed near Baraboo in Sauk County and was erected in 1956. The last one added was submitted on February 7, 2023, and titled Moquah Natural Area. It is in Mason in Bayfield County. Keeping in mind that the erection date of many markers in the database is not known, the earliest historical marker we know of in Wisconsin was erected in 1868. It was this one: Town of Rhine Civil War Monument, and one of our correspondents found it in Rhine in Sheboygan County on October 8, 2013.

Wisconsin Historical Topics
567 • Settlements and Settlers
541 • Industry and Commerce
388 • Notable Buildings
341 • Waterways and Vessels
331 • Sports
247 • Native Americans
206 • Education
205 • Churches and Religion
168 • Cemeteries and Burial Sites
124 • Roads and Vehicles
    ... and others ...

Wisconsinites don’t want to forget their Settlements and Settlers history. How do we know? Because there are more historical markers in the database from Wisconsin about Settlements and Settlers—567 of them—than about any other historical topic. A close second is Industry and Commerce with 541 markers.

The first marker added to the database with the Settlements and Settlers topic was Point Basse, added June 8, 2007. It had been erected in 1963 in Nekoosa in Wood County. The last one submitted was submitted on February 4, 2023, and titled Arrival of European Descendants. It had been erected near Slinger in Washington County. The earliest marker erected with the Settlements and Settlers topic that we have listed was erected in 1887. It is Solomon Juneau, found in Milwaukee in Milwaukee County on November 26, 2010.

What is the most interesting historical marker in Wisconsin? What we know is that Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet is the most viewed entry in the database from Wisconsin since it was added in 2007. It is located in Portage in Columbia County. This year so far, the most viewed Wisconsinite entry is located in Janesville in Rock County. It is The Black Hawk War / Black Hawk's Grove.

Counties, Cities and Towns

The Wisconsin county with the most historical markers listed in this database is Milwaukee County, with 526 of them. It is followed by Dane County with 443 markers. The Milwaukee area of Milwaukee County has the highest number of markers within its limits, 452. In Dane County the area with the most markers, 320, is Madison.

Historical Markers in These
Wisconsin Counties
526 • Milwaukee County
443 • Dane County
123 • Waukesha County
121 • Ozaukee County
119 • Door County
116 • Manitowoc County
101 • Brown County
80 • Eau Claire County
73 • Columbia County
66 • Chippewa County
    ... and others ...

Checking the database for the city or town in Wisconsin with the most markers we again find Milwaukee at the top of the list with 452 markers in or near it. And Madison also shows up again in next place, with 320 markers. For the ZIP Code with the most markers it’s 53703 at the top of the list with 166 markers in its delivery area. (ZIP Code 53703 is assigned to Madison WI.) It is followed closely by ZIP Code 53203 with 161 markers. (53203 is assigned to Milwaukee WI.)

Historical Markers Near These
Wisconsin Cities and Towns
452 • Milwaukee
320 • Madison
83 • Manitowoc
76 • Eau Claire
68 • Green Bay
52 • Sturgeon Bay
44 • La Crosse
39 • Port Washington
33 • Kenosha
33 • Wisconsin Dells
    ... and others ...

Getting back to Milwaukee County, the first marker added to the database from there, Captain Frederick Pabst, was added June 12, 2008. It was erected in 1992 in Milwaukee. The last one submitted was uploaded on October 21, 2022, and is titled Tee Sisikeja (Bad Waters Village) and was erected in 2022, in West Allis. The earliest marker erected in Milwaukee County that we have listed was erected in 1887. It was Solomon Juneau, found in Milwaukee on November 26, 2010.

Latest entry from Wisconsin. Click to go there
By Paul Fehrenbach, June 4, 2021
Latest Entry from Wisconsin
“Moquah Natural Area”

And finally the first, last, and oldest markers from Madison. The first: Yahara River Parkway, was added June 14, 2009. It had been erected in 1996. The last: Garver Feed & Supply Company added on October 29, 2022. The earliest marker erected was erected in 1908: Harvey Hospital, added on July 12, 2010.

Who Puts Up Historical Markers?

The Wisconsin Historical Society is currently in charge of the familiar tobacco brown with a badger symbol official historical markers found all over the state and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation typically installs and maintains those that are roadside. They erected their first marker in 1951, and we have 430 of their markers in the database. Also, a number of counties have erected historical markers on their streets and roads and within their public areas, as have some cities and towns.

Latest entry from Wisconsin. Click to go there
By Paul Fehrenbach, August 13, 2017
A Wisconsin Historical Society Historical Marker

Then there are federal government agencies that put up historical markers, especially in national parks and other areas under their jurisdiction. And finally, there are the numerous public and private organizations and individuals that erect markers. Some do this as a continual endeavor, and others once in a while, to mark something, someone, or someplace they find important or interesting. When one of our correspondents comes across one that satisfies our criteria, we add it to the database.

Off the Beaten Path

You’ll find that even the smallest, least populated, or most rural areas of Wisconsin have been marked with history. Check out Washburn County, Menominee County and Forest County. We've only found, respectively, 3, 3, and 3 historical markers there. Visiting one or more of these parts of Wisconsin might make for a pleasant road trip, and maybe you’ll discover more historical markers while you’re there. If you do, perhaps you’ll take the time to photograph them and, when you get home, become an HMdb correspondent by adding them to the database. Happy Hunting!

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Feb. 9, 2023