Main Street in downtown Watertown
Location of Watertown, Wisconsin
|• Type||Mayor – Common Council|
|• Mayor||Ron Krueger|
|• Total||12.51 sq mi (32.40 km2)|
|• Land||12.11 sq mi (31.36 km2)|
|• Water||0.40 sq mi (1.04 km2)|
|Elevation||853 ft (260 m)|
|• Estimate (2012)||23,957|
|• Density||1,970.4/sq mi (760.8/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||1576295|
Watertown is a city in Dodge and Jefferson counties in the US state of Wisconsin. Most of the city's population is in Jefferson County. Division Street, several blocks north of downtown, marks the county line. The population of Watertown was 23,861 at the 2010 census. Of this, 15,402 were in Jefferson County, and 8,459 were in Dodge County.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography and climate
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Education
- 5 Business and industry
- 6 Transportation
- 7 Media
- 8 Historical landmarks
- 9 Notable people from Watertown
- 10 References
- 11 Bibliography
- 12 External links
Watertown was first settled by Timothy Johnson, who built a cabin on the west side of the Rock River in 1836. A park on the west side of the city is named in his honor. The area was settled to utilize the power of the Rock River, which falls 20 feet (6.1 m) in two miles (two 10-foot (3.0 m) dams). In contrast, the Rock River falls only 34 feet (10 m) in 58 miles (93 km) upstream from Watertown. The water power was first used for sawmills, and later prompted the construction of two hydroelectric dams, one downtown (where the river flows south) and one on the eastern edge of the city (where the river flows north).
Milwaukee and Rock River Canal
A canal from Milwaukee to the Watertown area was once planned, but was replaced by railroad before any work had been completed, other than a dam in Milwaukee. The territorial legislature incorporated the Milwaukee and Rock River Canal company in 1836, but the plan was abandoned in 1848. The canal would have provided a waterway between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, but even if completed, it may not have seen much success because railroads had already become the preferred mode of transportation.
19th century growth
In 1853, a plank road was completed from Milwaukee to Watertown. After plank roads were no longer used, the route was replaced by highway (Wisconsin Highway 16) and a railroad. A street named "Watertown Plank Road" survives in Milwaukee. It is referred to in the "Plank Road Brewery" family of beers, produced by Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee.
The city grew slowly at first, but an influx of German immigrants increased the population to over 10,000 in the late 19th century. The city is the home of the first kindergarten in the United States, started in 1856 by Margarethe Schurz, wife of statesman Carl Schurz; the building that housed this kindergarten is now located on the grounds of the Octagon House Museum in Watertown.
City railroad bond default
Growth of the city was substantially hampered when Watertown issued almost half a million dollars in bonds to support the building of two railroads to town to encourage further growth: the Chicago & Fond du Lac Company and the Milwaukee, Watertown & Madison Road. The success of the plank road convinced residents that a railroad would be even more beneficial, and bonds were issued from 1853 to 1855. The Milwaukee and Watertown Railroad, as it was called before it extended to Madison, was completed in 1855, only the second line in the state.
Soon after, the two railroads went bankrupt in the Panic of 1857. The bonds were sold by the original investors to out-of-town speculators at a small fraction of their face value. Since the railroads were never built and did not produce revenue, the city was unable to pay off the bonds. Moreover, the city did not feel compelled to do so because the creditors (those who held the bonds) were not only from out of town, but weren't even the original holders. Yet the creditors exerted so much pressure on the city to pay off the bonds that Watertown effectively dissolved its government so that there was no legal entity (the government as a whole or officers) that could be served a court order to pay or appear in court. The case was not resolved until 1889, when it had risen all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, which essentially dismissed the case of the creditors. A small amount remained to be paid, and this was not paid off until 1905, half a century later.
Geography and climate
Watertown is located in southeastern Wisconsin, approximately midway between Madison and Milwaukee, at 43°12'N 88°43'W (43.193, −88.724). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.51 square miles (32.40 km2), of which, 12.11 square miles (31.36 km2) is land and 0.40 square miles (1.04 km2) is water. Small communities in the immediate area (e.g., within the school district) include Richwood, Lebanon, Old Lebanon, Sugar Island, Pipersville, Concord, Ebenezer, and Grellton.
The Rock River flows through Watertown in a horseshoe bend before heading south and west on its way to the Mississippi River. The city originally developed inside the horseshoe, though it has long since grown beyond. Silver Creek adjoins the river in the city, as does a short creek on the west side.
The most notable geographical feature is a high density of drumlins, long hills formed by the glaciers of the Wisconsin glaciation as they retreated northwards. Hills in the area are elongated in the north-south direction.
|Climate data for Watertown, Wisconsin|
|Average high °F||28||30||41||55||68||78||82||80||71||60||42||32||55.6|
|Average low °F||10||14||24||35||44||55||59||57||50||39||28||17||36|
|Average high °C||−2||−1||5||13||20||26||28||27||22||16||6||0||13.3|
|Average low °C||−12||−10||−4||2||7||13||15||14||10||4||−2||−8||2.4|
As of the census of 2010, there was 23,861 people residing in the city.
As of the census of 2010, there were 23,861 people, 9,187 households, and 6,006 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,970.4 inhabitants per square mile (760.8 /km2). There were 9,745 housing units at an average density of 804.7 per square mile (310.7 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.0% White, 0.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 2.7% from other races, and 1.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.3% of the population.
There were 9,187 households of which 33.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.0% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 34.6% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.03.
The median age in the city was 35.7 years. 25.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.4% were from 25 to 44; 24% were from 45 to 64; and 14.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 21,598 people, 8,022 households, and 5,567 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,974.1 people per square mile (762.3/km2). There were 8,330 housing units at an average density of 761.4 per square mile (294.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.90% White, 0.25% African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.61% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.69% from other races, and 1.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.94% of the population.
There were 8,022 households out of which 34.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.2% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.6% were non-families. 25.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.07.
In the city the population was spread out with 26.0% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $42,562, and the median income for a family was $50,686. Males had a median income of $34,825 versus $23,811 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,977. About 4.6% of families and 6.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.8% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.
The school district serving Watertown is the Watertown Unified School District. Watertown has one public high school, Watertown High School. Its mascot is the gosling, a reference to the large quantity of foie gras once produced in the city by goose noodling. Completed in 1994, it is located on the northwest edge of the city on approximately 160 acres (0.65 km2). The public middle school, Riverside Middle School, is on the eastern edge of the city. There are four public elementary schools in the city: Lincoln, Schurz, Douglas, and Webster. An additional public elementary school in the Watertown district is in Lebanon. One more existed in Concord, but was closed in 2004.
The campus of Northwestern College, which closed in 1995 after 130 years of higher education, is now part of Luther Preparatory School, both affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). The college merged with Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota. Four of the WELS churches have elementary schools, as well as the two Catholic churches, St. Bernard's and St. Henry's. Maranatha Baptist Bible College and Maranatha Baptist Academy are also located on the western side of Watertown.
Business and industry
The corporate headquarters of Bethesda Lutheran Communities, located in Watertown, is the largest employer in the city. In 2009, Briggs & Stratton announced plans to close its factories in Watertown and Jefferson, Wisconsin. The Watertown economy remains heavily reliant on light industry.
Primary automobile transportation is provided via Highways 19, 26 and 16. Highway 19 begins in Watertown and runs westward. Highway 16 runs east-west across Wisconsin from Milwaukee to La Crosse, passing around Watertown via a bypass. Business highway 26 runs north-south through the center of the city, while highway 26 bypasses the town to the west. Highways 26 and 16 provide access to Interstate 94. Highway 16 provides access to the Milwaukee metro area, and highway 19 provides access to the Madison metro area.
General aviation is provided by the Watertown Municipal Airport.
Amtrak's Empire Builder passenger train passes through, but does not stop in, Watertown. The Milwaukee to Madison leg of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative might pass through Watertown.
The local newspaper is the Watertown Daily Times, dating back to Nov 23, 1895, when John W. Cruger and E. J. Schoolcraft formed a partnership for the purpose of publishing a daily newspaper. Currently, 30,000 Dodge and Jefferson County citizens subscribe to the paper.
Notable people from Watertown
- Al Bentzin, a guard in the National Football League
- R. D. Blumenfeld, journalist, editor of the British Daily Express
- Daniel Brandenstein, former NASA astronaut, veteran of four space shuttle flights
- Ray Busler, a player in the National Football League
- Luther A. Cole, politician and businessman
- Joseph E. Davies, the second ambassador to represent the United States in the Soviet Union
- William M. Dennis, Wisconson state legislator
- William Ellis, Medal of Honor recipient
- Edward W. Fehling, Michigan state senator
- Charles R. Gill, Attorney General of Wisconsin
- Hiram Gill, Mayor of Seattle, Washington
- Charles A. Kading, congressman
- Lloyd Kasten, language scholar
- Robert Kastenmeier, congressman
- Mary Lasker, health activist, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal
- Vincent R. Mathews, Wisconsin State Assemblyman
- Peter McGovern, Minnesota state senator
- Fred Merkle, a first baseman in Major League Baseball
- Carlotta Perry, poet
- Ben Peterson, Olympic gold and silver medal winner in wrestling
- J. A. O. Preus III, former President of Concordia University, Irvine, California
- Meinhardt Raabe, actor, The Wizard of Oz
- Randall J. Radtke, Wisconsin State Assemblyman
- Patrick Rogan, Wisconsin State Assemblyman
- Theodore H. Rowell, pharmaceutical industrialist and politician
- Carl Schurz, U.S. Secretary of the Interior
- Thomas Shinnick, Wisconsin State Assemblyman
- Jesse Stone, Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
- Doris Tetzlaff, baseball player
- C. F. Viebahn, Wisconsin State Assemblyman
- Byron F. Wackett, Wisconsin State Assemblyman
- Joseph Wimmer, Wisconsin State Assemblyman
- Ferdinand T. Yahr, Wisconsin state senator
- "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-24.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Watertown city, Wisconsin". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved October 5, 2012.
- "The Johnsons Reunited: Family of city's first citizen arrives". Watertown Chronicle. January 22, 1851. Retrieved 2009-05-31.
- Upper Rock River Basin – WDNR. Dnr.state.wi.us.
- Geo. W. Peck. Wisconsin: comprising sketches of counties, towns, events, institutions, and persons, arranged in cyclopedic form, Madison, Wis.: Western Historical Association, 1906.
- Watertown Historical Society. Watertownhistory.org.
- City Government 101. Watertownhistory.org.
- M. Wyman. The Wisconsin Frontier. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.
- Milwaukee and Watertown Railroad. Watertown History.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Watertown, Wisconsin, United States of America". Retrieved May 31, 2009.
- 2010 Demographic Profile. Census.gov (March 13, 2012).
- Bethesda Lutheran Homes and Services. Blhs.org.
- Snyder, Paul (July 7, 2009). "Watertown banks on high-speed rail boom". The Daily Reporter (Milwaukee). Retrieved January 8, 2010.
- [dead link]
- OnTheRadio.net. None.
- Radio Locator. Radio Locator (May 14, 2009).
- ' Collections State Historical Society of Wisconsin,' Wisconsin Historical Society: 1882, Wisconsin Necrology-1880, pg. 449
- Wallman, Charles J. The German-Speaking 48ers: Builders of Watertown, Wisconsin. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Watertown, Wisconsin.|
- City of Watertown official website
- Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce
- Watertown Daily Times, local newspaper
- Watertown Unified School District
- Watertown Historical Society