Wood County, Wisconsin

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Wood County, Wisconsin
Map of Wisconsin highlighting Wood County
Location in the state of Wisconsin
Map of the United States highlighting Wisconsin
Wisconsin's location in the U.S.
Founded 1856
Seat Wisconsin Rapids
Largest city Marshfield
 • Total 809 sq mi (2,095 km2)
 • Land 793 sq mi (2,054 km2)
 • Water 16 sq mi (41 km2), 2.0%
 • (2010) 74,749
 • Density 94/sq mi (36/km²)
Congressional districts 3rd, 7th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website www.co.wood.wi.us

Wood County is a county located in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. It is named after Joseph Wood.[1] As of the 2010 census, the population was 74,749.[2] Its county seat is Wisconsin Rapids.[3]

Wood County comprises the Wisconsin Rapids-Marshfield, WI Micropolitan Statistical Area and is included in the Wausau-Stevens Point-Wisconsin Rapids, WI Combined Statistical Area.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 809 square miles (2,100 km2), of which 793 square miles (2,050 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) (2.0%) is water.[4] The geographic center of Wisconsin is in Wood county, nine miles southeast of Marshfield.[5]

Wood County's geography is fairly diverse, spanning two of Wisconsin's five basic geographical regions. The north of the county is in the Northern Highlands, mostly rich cropland with heavy clay soil, used for corn, soybeans, hay and dairy.[6] In the northwest corner a ridge called the Marshfield moraine runs from Marathon County through Marshfield, Bakerville and Nasonville, and into Clark county.[7] The south and central areas from Babcock through Cranmoor and Rapids are in the Central Plain, flat and marshy - one of the major cranberry-producing centers of the US.[6] The Wisconsin River cuts across the southeast corner, a corridor of sand flats, islands and oxbows. The river falls about 120 feet as it flows through the county,[8][9] driving several power dams. The remainder of the county is drained by smaller streams and rivers, punctuated by isolated hills like Powers Bluff.

The flat, sandy southern third of the county was largely shaped by the last glacial advance. The ice didn't reach Wood County, but it approached from the east into Portage County and butted up against the Baraboo Hills to the south. This blocked the Wisconsin River, damming it so that it backed up, forming Glacial Lake Wisconsin, a frigid lake which stretched from the Baraboo Hills north to the sites of Babcock and Wisconsin Rapids, submerging that part of the county. This area is generally flat and marshy now because meltwater rivers from the glacier and streams from land to the north carried sand and silt out into the glacial lake, where the sediment settled beneath its still waters. After the glacial dam melted enough to drain Glacial Lake Wisconsin around 13,000 years ago, the Wisconsin River cut new channels through the lake-bottom sands in the southeast corner of the county. In some later dry period, wind blew the sand into dunes. One dune in the town of Saratoga is 8 meters thick. Later still, the area became wet and peat formed in places on top of the sand.[7] The first surveyors in 1852 found a great marsh, like a Wisconsin Everglades. Here is their description of what is now Cranmoor:

This Township is very nearly all covered either with Marsh or swamp there is not to exceed in the Township two Sections of land that would admit of cultivation... Timber on Swamp Tamarack & small Spruce(?) very thick. water from 6 to 20 inches deep, the marsh is covered with a light crop of grass, water from 12 to 40 inches deep, innumerable small Islands(?) interspered over this Town, the margins of which abound with Cranberries.[10]

Looking southeast across Wood County from the Marshfield moraine at Nasonville, with Powers Bluff in the middle and a plume from a paper mill at Rapids or Nekoosa on the right, almost at the far end of the county.

The north of the county was shaped by earlier glaciers, which deposited glacial till, the basis for the heavy soil there. The Marshfield moraine in the northwest corner is probably a terminal moraine from one of these earlier glaciers, or from a series of them. Its age is unclear, but its relatively smooth surface indicates that it has eroded for a much longer time than the choppy terminal moraines left 13,000 years ago,[7] like the Perkinstown moraine near Medford.

Much of the county except for the northeast corner is underlain by a layer of Cambrian sandstone, formed long before the last Ice Age.[11] Most of the original sandstone layer has been eroded away and the remainder is usually buried under glacial till, but it can be seen in gravel pits and a few bluffs. The Lindsey bluffs (a.k.a. the Marshfield School Forest) and Birch Bluff and South Bluff in the town of Remington are hard spots in this sandstone which have resisted erosion.[7]

Powers Bluff is different from the sandstone bluffs, much older, with a hard core of Precambrian quartzite and a peak of chert.[7] A marker on the bluff says it is a "worn down peak of an ancient mountain range which once covered northern Wisconsin."[12]

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Natural wildlife refuges[edit]


2000 Census Age Pyramid for Wood County
Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 2,425
1870 3,912 61.3%
1880 8,981 129.6%
1890 18,127 101.8%
1900 25,865 42.7%
1910 30,583 18.2%
1920 34,643 13.3%
1930 37,865 9.3%
1940 44,465 17.4%
1950 50,500 13.6%
1960 59,105 17.0%
1970 65,362 10.6%
1980 72,799 11.4%
1990 73,605 1.1%
2000 75,555 2.6%
2010 74,749 −1.1%
Est. 2012 74,424 −0.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
1790-1960[14] 1900-1990[15]
1990-2000[16] 2010-2012[2]

As of the census[17] of 2000, there were 75,555 people, 30,135 households, and 20,491 families residing in the county. The population density was 95 people per square mile (37/km²). There were 31,691 housing units at an average density of 40 per square mile (15/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 96.43% White, 0.27% Black or African American, 0.70% Native American, 1.61% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.30% from other races, and 0.69% from two or more races. 0.94% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 50.8% were of German, 8.5% Polish, 6.2% Norwegian, 5.2% American and 5.1% Irish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 30,135 households out of which 32.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.70% were married couples living together, 8.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.00% were non-families. 27.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.70% under the age of 18, 7.70% from 18 to 24, 28.40% from 25 to 44, 22.90% from 45 to 64, and 15.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 96.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.00 males.


Cities, villages, and towns[edit]

Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Here's How Iron Got Its Name". The Rhinelander Daily News. June 16, 1932. p. 2. Retrieved August 24, 2014 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. ^ Wisconsin State Cartographer's Office. "Wisconsin Geography Statistics". Accessed July 25, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Batten, W. G. "Hydrogeology of Wood County, Wisconsin". Information Circular 60. U.S. Department of the Interior Geological Survey and. p. 2. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Clayton, Lee (1991). "Pleistocene Geology of Wood County, Wisconsin". Information Circular 68 (Mineral Point Road, Madison, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey). ISSN 0512-0640. 
  8. ^ "Biron Flowage". SatelliteView.co. Retrieved 2013-07-25. 
  9. ^ "Petenwell Flowage". SatelliteView.co. Retrieved 2013-07-25. 
  10. ^ Sterling, Levi. "Interior Field Notes (Jan. 1852)". Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. Retrieved 2013-06-06. 
  11. ^ Brown, B. A.; J.K. Greenberg (1986). "Bedrock Geology of Wood County, Wisconsin". Information Circular 54-DI. UW-Extension, Geographical and Natural History Survey. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  12. ^ "Geological History of Powers Bluff". marker on the bluff. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  13. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  17. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 

External links[edit]

County line sign along the Wisconsin River


Six foundation volumes that document and present the early history of Dane, Sauk, Wood, and Portage Counties. Titles include: Durrie, Daniel S. (Daniel Steele), 1819-1892 A History of Madison, the Capital of Wisconsin; Including the Four Lake Country (1874), A Standard History of Sauk County, Wisconsin: Volume I (1918), A Standard History of Sauk County, Wisconsin: Volume II (1918), Jones, George O. History of Wood County, Wisconsin (1923), Madison, Dane County and Surrounding Towns; Being a History and Guide to Places of Scenic Beauty and Historical Note ...(1877), and Rosholt, Malcolm Leviatt, 1907- Our County, our Story; Portage County, Wisconsin (1959).

A digital collection of books, pamphlets and photographs from Wisconsin Rapids, Wood County and central Wisconsin. Titles include: 100 years of pictorial & descriptive history of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin by T. A. [Theodore Asa] Taylor (1939); History of Wood County, Wisconsin compiled by George O. Jones (1923); Grand Rapids : descriptive of Grand Rapids, Wood County, and the Wisconsin River by A. Decker (1907); Along the Wisconsin River : descriptive of the Wisconsin River Valley, its resources, industries and opportunities by A. Decker (1907); Art work of the Wisconsin River Valley (1901); Central Wisconsin's railroads : past and future by Ray Specht (1981); and Wood County place names by Robert S. Rudolph.

Coordinates: 44°27′N 90°02′W / 44.45°N 90.04°W / 44.45; -90.04