Menasha, Wisconsin

Coordinates: 44°13′N 88°26′W / 44.217°N 88.433°W / 44.217; -88.433
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Menasha, Wisconsin
Downtown Menasha, a historic district
Downtown Menasha
Menasha Post Office
The Menasha Dam
Your Place on the Water
Location of Menasha in Calumet County, Wisconsin.
Location of Menasha in Calumet County, Wisconsin.
Coordinates: 44°13′N 88°26′W / 44.217°N 88.433°W / 44.217; -88.433
Country United States
State Wisconsin
CountiesWinnebago, Calumet
First settled1835
Incorporated as a town1848
Incorporated as a city1874
Named forWinnebago word for "Island"
 • TypeMayor-council government
 • MayorDon Merkes
 • Total7.78 sq mi (20.16 km2)
 • Land6.05 sq mi (15.66 km2)
 • Water1.74 sq mi (4.50 km2)
Elevation755 ft (230 m)
 • Total18,268
 • Estimate 
 • Density3,021.5/sq mi (7,825.64/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code920
FIPS code55-50825[6]
GNIS feature ID1569330[2]

Menasha (/məˈnæʃə/) is a city in Calumet and Winnebago counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The population was 18,268 at the 2020 census. Of this, 15,144 were in Winnebago County, and 2,209 were in Calumet County. The city is located mostly in Winnebago County; only a small portion is in the Town of Harrison in Calumet County. Doty Island is located partially in Menasha. The city's name comes from the Winnebago word meaning "thorn" or "island".[7] In the Menominee language, it is known as Menāēhsaeh, meaning "little island".[8]

Menasha is home to the Barlow Planetarium and Weis Earth Science Museum, both housed at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Fox Cities Campus.


Native American History[edit]

Centuries prior to the existence of Menasha, ancestors of the Ho-Chunk occupied Doty Island. In the 1600s, the Fox Native Americans established a village just north of Menasha. A sneak attack by the French soldiers and traders resulted in the death of nearly all of the Fox Native Americans in the area. They are said to have piled the bodies in a large mound that became known as Butte des Morts, or "Hill of the Dead." The mound was a prominent landmark until it was destroyed by the construction of the railroad in 1863.

In 1836, the land that Menasha occupies was ceded to the United States in the Treaty of the Cedars. This opened up land for public sale, and territorial governor James Doty was one of the first investors in the land.

European settlement[edit]

Various industries have called Menasha home

Settlers first came to Menasha in 1835. At this point, Menasha was described as a wilderness with black bears.

In 1848, Doty and his associates, including Curtis Reed, formed the town of Menasha on the channel north of Doty Island.[9]

In 1849, Reed and Doty were successful in convincing the United States to place the navigational channel of the Fox-Wisconsin waterway through the north channel in Menasha.[9] In 1854 Menasha approved $150,000 in bonding to bring the Manitowoc & Mississippi Railroad in with the intention of establishing Menasha as the principal transportation axis in Wisconsin both in water and rail. Menasha incorporated as a city in 1874, and at that point was considered to be a transportation hub.[9]

The early 1900s saw a shift to industrial production of general and specialized papers.[9] At that time called "The Industrial City", Menasha was home to many paper mills including the George A. Whiting Paper Company Mill, the John Strange Paper Mill, Island Paper Company, and Gilbert Paper Company, to name a few. Menasha was also home to the George Banta Publishing Company which published textbooks, military manuals, yearbooks, and magazines.

Menasha Corporation also called Menasha home. It was established in 1849 by Elisha D. Smith as Menasha Wooden Ware.[10] It produced wooden containers like butter tubs and barrels and eventually became the world's largest wooden ware products manufacturer. After wooden ware products fell out of use in the early 1900s, Menasha Wooden Ware shifted to the corrugated packaging business, changing its name to Menasha Corporation.[10]

The 1980s saw expansion to the east with the City of Menasha crossing Oneida Street, eventually expanding all the way to Lake Park Road.[9]

Today, Menasha continues to be home to some of the world's largest corporations as well as innovative local companies including: Essity, Lakeside Book Company, IPG, Orbis (Menasha Corporation), Coveris, Sonoco, Affinity, Advanced Tool, McClone, and Faith Technologies.[9]


Menasha is located at 44°13′N 88°26′W / 44.217°N 88.433°W / 44.217; -88.433 (44.2129, −88.4362).[11] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.52 square miles (19.48 km2), of which, 6.03 square miles (15.62 km2) is land and 1.49 square miles (3.86 km2) is water.[12]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[13]

Menasha is a city in the Appleton–Oshkosh–Neenah CSA, a Combined Statistical Area which includes the Appleton (Calumet and Outagamie counties) and Oshkosh–Neenah (Winnebago County) metropolitan areas,[citation needed] which had a combined population of 392,660 at the 2010 census and an estimated population of 409,881 as of 2019.

2020 census[edit]

At the 2020 census there were 18,268 people residing in the city. The population density was 3,021.5 inhabitants per square mile (1,166.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 85.9% White, 1.8% African American, 1.3% Native American, 3.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3.0% from other races, and 4.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.2%.

2010 census[edit]

At the 2010 census there were 17,353 people, 7,405 households, and 4,415 families living in the city. The population density was 2,877.8 inhabitants per square mile (1,111.1/km2). There were 7,973 housing units at an average density of 1,322.2 per square mile (510.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.8% White, 1.2% African American, 0.7% Native American, 2.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 3.0% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.9%.[3]

Of the 7,405 households 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.4% were non-families. 32.2% of households were one person and 9.9% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.95.

The median age was 36 years. 24.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 29.1% were from 25 to 44; 26.4% were from 45 to 64; and 11.6% were 65 or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.4% male and 50.6% female.

2000 census[edit]

At the 2000 census there were 16,331 people, 6,951 households, and 4,233 families living in the city. The population density was 3,106.9 people per square mile (1,198.8/km2). There were 7,271 housing units at an average density of 1,383.3 per square mile (533.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.80% White, 0.54% African American, 0.61% Native American, 1.62% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.38% from other races, and 1.04% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.61%.[6]

Of the 6,951 households 31.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.1% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.1% were non-families. 31.8% of households were one person and 10.0% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.99.

The age distribution was 25.6% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 33.6% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% 65 or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.4 males.

The median household income was $39,936 and the median family income was $47,401. Males had a median income of $36,705 versus $25,176 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,743. About 5.4% of families and 6.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.5% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.


The city of Menasha has a city council-mayor system of government. There are eight districts in the city, each represented by an aldermen. The council meets weekly with the mayor, Don Merkes.

Mayors of Menasha[edit]

List of Menasha's mayors:[14]

Mayors of Menasha, Wisconsin, since incorporation as a city in 1874
Order Term start Term end Mayor Notes
1 1874 1875 O.J. Hall
2 1875 1879 P.V. Lawson, Sr.
3 1879 1882 A.J. Webster
4 1882 1883 Silas Bullard
5 1883 1885 A.J. Webster
6 1885 1886 L.G. Noble
7 1886 1890 P.V. Lawson, Jr.
8 1890 1892 Curtis Reed
9 1892 1893 George Banta
10 1893 1894 P.V. Lawson, Jr.
11 1894 1895 John Rosch
12 1895 1896 George Banta
13 1896 1897 P.V. Lawson, Jr.
14 1897 1898 J.M. Pleasants
15 1898 1900 M.M. Schoetz
16 1900 1901 J.M. Pleasants
17 1901 1902 Henry Fitzgibbon
18 1902 1904 George Banta
19 1904 1908 August J. Henning
20 1908 1910 N.G. Remmel
21 1910 1912 Joesph Hill
22 1912 1919 N.G. Remmel
23 1919 1922 T.E. McGillan "Elected mayor of Menasha to fill out an unexpired term" and then re-elected without opposition.
24 1922 1924 M.M. Schoetz
25 1924 1928 N.G. Remmel
26 1928 1930 W.E. Held
27 1930 1934 N.G. Remmel
28 1934 1936 F.O. Heckrodt
29 1936 1938 W.E. Held
30 1938 1946 W.H. Jensen
31 1946 1956 John R. Scanlon
32 1956 1960 R.G. DuCharme
33 1960 1966 John L. Klein
34 1966 1968 Kenneth E. Holmes
35 1968 1970 John L. Klein
36 1970 1974 James Adams
37 1974 1982 Victor V. Wiecki
38 1982 1988 Thom A. Ciske
39 1988 2008 Joseph F. Laux
40 2008 Present Donald Merkes


Menasha's St. Thomas Episcopal Church was designed by Harry Weese

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) has two churches in Menasha: Bethel Lutheran Church[15] and Mount Calvary Lutheran Church.[16]

Architect Harry Weese designed Menasha's St Thomas' Episcopal Church.


Menasha High School

Menasha's Public School system, called the Menasha Joint School District has one high school, one middle school, and five elementary schools.

Menasha is home to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Fox Cities campus, a two-year campus part of the UW System.

Elementary schools[edit]

  • Clovis Grove Elementary School
  • Gegan Elementary School
  • Jefferson Elementary School
  • Banta Elementary School
  • Butte des Morts Elementary School
  • Trinity Lutheran School
  • Bethel Lutheran School
  • St. Mary Catholic Elementary School

Junior High/Middle schools[edit]

  • Maplewood Middle School
  • Trinity Lutheran School
  • Bethel Lutheran School

High schools[edit]

Colleges and universities[edit]


Companies headquartered in Menasha[edit]


Barlow Planetarium.

Tourists visiting Menasha often go to Heckrodt Wetland Reserve, a 91-acre urban nature reserve with habitats including forested wetland, cattail marsh, open water, created prairie, open field, and upland forest.[17] The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Fox Cities Campus houses the Weis Earth Science Museum, The Official Mineralogical Museum of Wisconsin; The Barlow Planetarium, The First Major Planetarium in Wisconsin; and the Communication Arts Center, a 51,000 square foot facility academic building with an art gallery and theatrical/musical performances.


The City of Menasha contains 7 neighborhood parks, 2 community parks, 2 Mini-parks, and 11 special purpose parks. The City of Menasha also has a public pool located in Jefferson Park.[18]

Smith Park is the oldest park in the Menasha Park system. The park celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 1997, making it one of the oldest city parks in the state.

The Friendship Trail. Now a part of the Loop the Little Lake Trail.

Several unique features make Smith Park an attraction worth seeing and an important community asset. A railroad caboose, presented to the Menasha Historical Society, commemorates the fact that Menasha was the birthplace of the original Wisconsin Central Railroad. At the southern end of the park are several Native American burial mounds - large settlements of Fox and Winnebago Native Americans once inhabited the area - and a natural amphitheater used for summer concerts. The north end of the park features semi-formal gardens planted each year with approximately 6,000 annuals, a setting that is a favorite for summer weddings. A gazebo funded with corporate donations was built in this area in 1997.[19]

Menasha has many public trails for bikes/pedestrians. One of the most used, Loop the Little Lake is a 3.5 mile route that links three (3) communities (Village of Fox Crossing, City of Menasha and City of Neenah).

Friendly cities[edit]

Notable people[edit]

Elisha D. Smith Public Library in Menasha


  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. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  4. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  5. ^ "Menasha WI ZIP Code". 2023. Retrieved February 10, 2023.
  6. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  7. ^ Chicago and North Western Railway Company (1908). A History of the Origin of the Place Names Connected with the Chicago & North Western and Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railways. p. 101.
  8. ^ Hoffman, Mike. "Menominee Place Names in Wisconsin". The Menominee Clans Story. Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Menasha History". Retrieved July 27, 2023.
  10. ^ a b "The History of Menasha". Menasha Packaging. Retrieved July 27, 2023.
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  12. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 2, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  13. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  14. ^ "Mayors of Menasha".
  15. ^ "Bethel Lutheran Church".
  16. ^ "Mount Calvary Lutheran Church (WELS)".
  17. ^ "Heckrodt Wetland Reserve | Urban Nature Reserve | Menasha, WI". Heckrodt Wetland Reserve. Retrieved August 16, 2022.
  18. ^[bare URL PDF]
  19. ^[bare URL PDF]
  20. ^ "メナーシャ市|前橋市". (in Japanese). Retrieved August 16, 2022.

External links[edit]