Stoughton, Wisconsin

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Stoughton, Wisconsin
Downtown Stoughton
Downtown Stoughton
Location of Stoughton, Wisconsin
Location of Stoughton, Wisconsin
Coordinates: 42°55′16″N 89°13′28″W / 42.92111°N 89.22444°W / 42.92111; -89.22444Coordinates: 42°55′16″N 89°13′28″W / 42.92111°N 89.22444°W / 42.92111; -89.22444
Country United States
State Wisconsin
County Dane
 • Mayor Donna Olson
 • Total 5.09 sq mi (13.18 km2)
 • Land 4.92 sq mi (12.74 km2)
 • Water 0.17 sq mi (0.44 km2)
Elevation[2] 876 ft (267 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total 12,611
 • Estimate (2012[4]) 12,927
 • Density 2,563.2/sq mi (989.7/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 608
FIPS code 55-77675[5]
GNIS feature ID 1574965[2]

Stoughton is a city in Dane County, Wisconsin, United States. It straddles the Yahara River about 20 miles southeast of the state capital, Madison. Stoughton is part of the Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 12,611.

Known for its Norwegian heritage, Stoughton hosts a citywide celebration of Syttende Mai, the Norwegian constitution day. Part of the city's celebration of its Norwegian heritage is the Stoughton Norwegian Dancers dance group, sponsored by Stoughton High School.[6] Stoughton's sister city is Gjøvik, Norway.


Stoughton was founded in 1847 by Luke Stoughton, an Englishman from Vermont. Many Norwegian immigrants settled in the town from 1865 through the early 1900s.[7] Stoughton also claims to be the birthplace of the "Coffee Break", and hosts a small yearly parade to celebrate the distinction.

For much of the history of the area, Stoughton has been the second-largest and economically important city in Dane County after Madison.[8]

In 1919, Stoughton Wagon Company began putting custom wagon bodies on Model T chassis;[9] by 1929 Ford was by far the biggest seller of station wagons.

On August 18, 2005, an F3 tornado cut a 10-mile path across rural subdivisions and farms north of Stoughton, killing one person and damaging hundreds of homes.

In June 2010 a third water tower was built. After it was finished, the town's name was painted on either side; on one side the painters mistakenly left out the second T, spelling it 'STOUGHON'. The mistake was corrected soon after at no cost to the city.[10]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.09 square miles (13.18 km2), of which, 4.92 square miles (12.74 km2) is land and 0.17 square miles (0.44 km2) is water.[1]


2010 census[edit]

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 12,611 people, 5,133 households, and 3,296 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,563.2 inhabitants per square mile (989.7 /km2). There were 5,419 housing units at an average density of 1,101.4 per square mile (425.3 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.1% White, 1.4% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.3% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.8% of the population.

There were 5,133 households of which 33.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.3% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.8% were non-families. 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.99.

The median age in the city was 39.2 years. 25.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 6.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.6% were from 25 to 44; 26.2% were from 45 to 64; and 14.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.2% male and 52.8% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census of 2000,[5] there were 12,354 people, 4,734 households, and 3,185 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,116.6 people per square mile (1,204.5/km²). There were 4,890 housing units at an average density of 1,233.6 per square mile (476.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.66% White, 0.92% African American, 0.29% Native American, 0.70% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.36% from other races, and 1.05% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.24% of the population. 32.0% were of German, 28.9% Norwegian, 8.5% Irish and 5.3% English ancestry.

There were 4,734 households out of which 37.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.6% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.7% were non-families. 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.3% under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 32.6% from 25 to 44, 18.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 89.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $47,633, and the median income for a family was $58,543. Males had a median income of $37,956 versus $26,187 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,037. About 3.1% of families and 5.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.9% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.


Stoughton is incorporated as a city under the Wisconsin Statutes and has an elected mayor and 12-member City Council consisting of aldermen elected to three-year terms from four districts; the terms are staggered so that one seat is up for election in each of the four districts each spring.

As in all of Wisconsin, a special district is charged with running the public schools in and around Stoughton; this entity, the Stoughton Area School District, is run by an elected Board of Education.


The corporate headquarters and semi-trailer manufacturing facility for Stoughton Trailers are located in Stoughton, where the company has been locally owned and operated for more than 50 years. The 680,000 sq. ft. Stoughton plant houses everything from fabrication of subassemblies to final assembly of all Stoughton dry vans. Stoughton Trailers is one of the largest truck trailer manufacturing companies in North America, and is the only American company still manufacturing 53-foot-long "intermodal" freight containers used to ship goods internationally.[11]

Another large employer in the city is Uniroyal Engineered Products, which makes Naugahyde.[12] Stoughton and environs are also home to printers, manufacturers of foodstuffs, chemicals, and sundry other products. North American Fur Auctions' US offices are based in Stoughton.

Stoughton is located on US Highway 51 which joins the Interstate system (I-39/90) six miles east of town where is also returns to being part thereof. Somewhat further in the other direction is the East Side of Madison and neighbouring communities. A small airport, Matson Field, is located two miles east-southeast of downtown Stoughton.

A municipally-owned utility company, Stoughton Utilities, provides electrical, water, and sewer service to the city.[13]


A weekly newspaper, the Stoughton Courier-Hub, is published on Thursdays and was founded in 1869.[14][15]

City of Stoughton, Media Services Department operates a Public, educational, and government access (PEG) cable TV channel WSTO TV

The Stoughton Opera House is a 495-seat venue featuring about 30 travelling musical, comedy and other acts a year.


The coffee break is said to have originated in Stoughton, when the immigrant men became employed en masse at T.G. Mandt's wagon factory, leaving their wives to fill the shortages at the tobacco warehouses, who agreed to work under the condition that they were allowed to go home every morning and afternoon to tend to chores and, of course, drink coffee. The city of Stoughton celebrates the coffee break every summer with the Stoughton Coffee Break Festival.[16]

The first weekend in December marks Stoughton's Victorian Holiday Weekend celebrating the city's wealth of beautifully preserved Victorian homes and commercial buildings. Events include a Victorian Holiday Ball featuring Period dances in a casual atmosphere, a production of the Nutcracker Ballet, carriage rides, a silent decorated fire truck parade, children's parade, and more.[17]

The weekend closest to May 17, Norwegian Constitution Day, marks Stoughton's Syttende Mai festival. The weekend-long celebration includes parades, an art fair, Norwegian Dancer performance, and many other events.

In the media[edit]

In 2004, a Norwegian TV crew traveled to the Midwest to witness the modern manifestations of Norsky culture in the state. During their stay the team visited Stoughton, Mount Horeb, and Decorah, Iowa. The documentary Ja, de elsker (Yes, they love, a reference to the Norwegian national anthem) was aired on NRK1 on May 16, and May 17, 2006.[18]

Notable people[edit]



External links[edit]