|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|Area code(s)||715 & 534|
Alpha is an unincorporated community in western Burnett County in the northwestern corner of the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The community is in the town of Wood River, which had a population of 974 at the 2000 census. There are fewer than a dozen households in within the community.
Alpha was settled primarily by Scandinavian immigrants from the Småland District of Sweden. The community was originally called Småland Prairie, a name rejected by the United States Postmaster General. The town's postmaster, also the local butter-maker, at a loss to come up with a better name, simply filled in the name of his Alpha brand cream separator.
The postmaster's butter business eventually became the Burnett Dairy Co-op. Early on, it processed so much milk that the excess whey turned the stream a creamy color; thus the stream's name, Buttermilk Creek.
The Alpha Store survived long after most general stores had closed. The business was owned through most of its years by the Anderson family. Gordon Anderson, the last owner of the store, sold everything from shoes to groceries to television sets. The building is now home to a small engine repair shop.
The nearest major metropolitan area is Minneapolis/St. Paul, located approximately 70 miles to the south-southwest. Alpha is situated on Highway 70, 5 miles east of Grantsburg and 10 miles west of Siren.
Alpha is surrounded by flat, fertile farmland. Buttermilk Creek passes through town, running alongside the highway until it joins the Wood River about one mile west of town. The stream is small enough to jump across, though it rarely runs dry, even in the height of summer. It drains a sizeable shallow wetland to the east of town, known as the Falun Meadows.
Business and industry
The largest employer in Alpha is the Burnett Dairy Co-op, which claims to produce the world's finest string cheese. Attached to the cheese factory is a retail outlet that sells dairy products, groceries, and souvenirs. The Co-op also includes a feed mill, with an attached hardware store. A small engine shop is located in the former general store.