McFarland, Wisconsin

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McFarland, Wisconsin
Downtown McFarland with its old railroad.
Downtown McFarland with its old railroad.
Location of McFarland in Dane County, Wisconsin.
Location of McFarland in Dane County, Wisconsin.
Coordinates: 43°1′7″N 89°17′28″W / 43.01861°N 89.29111°W / 43.01861; -89.29111Coordinates: 43°1′7″N 89°17′28″W / 43.01861°N 89.29111°W / 43.01861; -89.29111
Country United States
State Wisconsin
 • Total4.77 sq mi (12.34 km2)
 • Land4.76 sq mi (12.33 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
Elevation869 ft (265 m)
 • Total8,991
 • Density1,897.67/sq mi (732.64/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
Area code608
FIPS code55-46850[4]
GNIS feature ID1569214[2]

The Village of McFarland is located on Lake Waubesa adjacent to the southeast side of the City of Madison in Dane County. The population was 8,991 at the 2020 United States Census.[6] McFarland has approximately 43.50 road miles, is slightly less than 5 square miles in total land area, and is part of the Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area.

U.S. Route 51 passes through McFarland and serves as the main connection point between the cities of Madison and Stoughton. Its ZIP code is 53558. It is the tenth-most populous city in Dane County after Madison.[7]


Several burial mounds from the Woodland period are known as the Lewis Mound Group in the village's Indian Mound Park.[8][9]

Panorama along U.S. Route 51

McFarland was founded in 1856 by William H. McFarland. Early industries in the village included wheat and tobacco farming, harvesting winter ice and fish on nearby Lake Waubesa for rail shipment to markets in Chicago. Later, a small resort industry developed along the eastern shore of Lake Waubesa, including Edwards Park and Larson's Beach. After World War II, the village became a bedroom community for Madison. In the late 1950s, McFarland annexed the recently constructed petroleum tank farms north of the village, expanding the village's tax base. This allowed the McFarland School District to fund a new high school. In 1989 a major highway project on the nearby Madison highway called the Beltline made commuting to the village much easier and enabled rapid residential growth.

On June 17, 1992, an F3 tornado destroyed several dozen homes and injured several people in Waubesa Heights, a nearby housing development in the Town of Dunn, in the McFarland School District. At $18.0 million in damage this was the third-costliest tornado in Wisconsin's history behind the Oakfield and Barneveld F5s.[1]

The village celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2006. Among the festivities were banners on light poles, activities such as the Taste of McFarland, live music at the Gazebo near downtown McFarland and free train rides to Madison. Photo displays of "Then and Now" covering McFarland's 150 years of history were placed at the McFarland High School, the local Culver's restaurant, the E.D. Locke Public Library, and other public locations.


McFarland is located at 43°1′7″N 89°17′28″W / 43.01861°N 89.29111°W / 43.01861; -89.29111 (43.018480, -89.291116).[10]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 3.55 square miles (9.19 km2), all of its land. It is bordered by Lake Waubesa to the west and Mud Lake to the south.[11]

Time zone[edit]

As in the rest of the state of Wisconsin, McFarland forms part of the Central Time Zone.


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[12]

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 7,808 people, 3,079 households, and 2,201 families residing in the village. The population density was 2,199.4 inhabitants per square mile (849.2/km2). There were 3,200 housing units at an average density of 901.4 per square mile (348.0/km2). The racial makeup of the village was 94.4% White, 1.2% African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.7% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.3% of the population.

There were 3,079 households, of which 38.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.9% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 28.5% were non-families. Of all households, 21.9% were made up of individuals, and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 2.96.

The median age in the village was 39.7 years. 26.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26% were from 25 to 44; 31.2% were from 45 to 64; and 10.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the village was 49.0% male and 51.0% female.


The McFarland School District serves the village of McFarland.[13] It operates Conrad Elvehjem Early Learning Center (K), McFarland Primary School (grades 1–2), Waubesa Intermediate School (3–5), Indian Mound Middle School (6–8) and McFarland High School, which is accredited by the AdvancED commission.


Village of McFarland Municipal Center

McFarland is governed by a village board consisting of a president and six trustees.[14] The president and trustees are elected to two-year terms during spring elections. The Village President of McFarland is Carolyn Clow.[15]

McFarland has a full-time village administrator, who is responsible for the administration of the village government in accordance with the policies established by the Village Board. Other city officers consist of Village Clerk, treasurer, municipal judge, police chief and fire chief.


Since 1985 McFarland has held an annual Fall Family Festival. The festival has carnival rides, train rides, a parade, and many competitions. The three-day festival typically takes place at McFarland Ice Arena parking lot, McFarland High School parking lot or the McFarland Municipal Center parking lot.[16]


McFarland is served by the Dane County Regional Airport, which is located 12 miles north of McFarland. McFarland is served by four taxicab companies (Union, Badger, Madison, and Green), and several companies provide specialized transit for individuals with disabilities. Several ride sharing services are also available in McFarland, including Uber and Lyft.

McFarland lies one minute south of US 12, Madison’s “Beltline Highway”, four minutes from Interstate 90, 12 minutes from the Wisconsin State Capitol, 12 minutes from the University of Wisconsin, and 15 minutes from the Dane County Regional Airport.

Major highways[edit]


A Wisconsin and Southern railroad line runs through the village en route to Janesville.


McFarland is served by the Lower Yahara River Trail. This nearly 2.5-mile trail provides an off-road trail connection between Madison, WI and McFarland. It includes the longest inland boardwalk bridge constructed solely for non-motorized transportation in North America.

Municipal Services[edit]

Fire Department & Emergency Medical Services[edit]

McFarland Fire Rescue Station

McFarland has a municipal combination fire department, McFarland Fire Rescue, that serves a 14 square mile district that covers the village and surrounding area. McFarland Fire Rescue provides fire protection and advanced emergency medical services. The department, which began in 1908, consists of 68 paid-on-call members who maintain external jobs, and 9 career staff.

Law enforcement[edit]

The Village has a full-service Police Department, that provides law enforcement services 24 hours a day. The McFarland Police Department is staffed by a Chief, Lieutenant, 3 Sergeants, Detective, Investigator, and 10 Officers as well as 2 non-sworn administrative staff.[17] The McFarland Police Department has an extensive outreach program, School Resource Officer, Community Service Officer, and K-9 Officer.

Public Library[edit]

The E.D. Locke Public Library serves the village. It is part of the South Central Library System. Services include youth programming, adult programming, reference, database, technical services, and circulation.


Further information: List of Wisconsin magazines and List of Wisconsin daily newspapers

McFarland is served by Madison TV, radio, print, and other media. The city is served by one local newspaper:McFarland Thistle . The McFarland Thistle is a weekly community newspaper.

McFarland has a local Public-access television cable TV station, WMCF.[18]


Significant employers include the McFarland School District, and US Oil. Many residents commute to jobs in Madison.

McFarland Historical Museum[edit]

The McFarland Historical Museum is maintained by members of the McFarland Historical Society, dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the heritage and history of the Village of McFarland. The Museum and Log Cabin are open to the public from 1:00 - 4:00pm every Sunday from Memorial Day through September.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  4. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  6. ^ "DOA Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  7. ^ "DOA Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved 2019-12-21.
  8. ^ Birmingham, Robert A.; Leslie E. Eisenberg (2000). Indian Mounds of Wisconsin. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 198. ISBN 9780299168742.
  9. ^ Kittner, Gena. "Plan to Restore Indian Mounds in McFarland". Capital Newspapers. Retrieved 2019-02-24.
  10. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  12. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  13. ^ McFarland School District
  14. ^ "Village Board". Retrieved 2019-12-21.
  15. ^ "Brad Czebotar". Retrieved 2022-06-27.
  16. ^ "McFarland Family Festival". Retrieved 2019-12-21.
  17. ^ "Police Staff". Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  18. ^ "WMCF". Retrieved 2019-12-21.
  19. ^ Wisconsin Blue Book 1997-1998, Biographical Sketch of Doris Hanson, pg 53
  20. ^ UW-Hall of Fame - Steve Lacy[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ Wisconsin Blue Book 1942, Biographical Sketch of Helmar Lewis, pg. 30
  22. ^ Wisconsin Supreme Court-Theodore Lewis
  23. ^ Wisconsin Blue Book 1975, Biographical Sketch of Barbara Thompson, pg. 6

External links[edit]