Reedsburg, Wisconsin

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Downtown Reedsburg
Downtown Reedsburg
Location of Reedsburg in Sauk County, Wisconsin.
Location of Reedsburg in Sauk County, Wisconsin.
Reedsburg is located in Wisconsin
Location within the state of Wisconsin
Coordinates: 43°32′2″N 90°0′10″W / 43.53389°N 90.00278°W / 43.53389; -90.00278Coordinates: 43°32′2″N 90°0′10″W / 43.53389°N 90.00278°W / 43.53389; -90.00278
Country United States
State Wisconsin
 • TypeMayor-council
 • MayorDavid G. Estes
 • City AdministratorTimothy M. Becker
 • Total5.85 sq mi (15.15 km2)
 • Land5.74 sq mi (14.86 km2)
 • Water0.11 sq mi (0.29 km2)
 • Total9,200
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,653.36/sq mi (638.34/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
Zip Codes
53958, 53959
Area code(s)608
FIPS code55-66800

Reedsburg is a city in Sauk County, Wisconsin, along the Baraboo River. The population was 9,200 at the 2010 census. The city is surrounded by the Town of Reedsburg. It is part of the Baraboo Micropolitan Statistical Area.


James W. Babb and his wife Rebecca Scarff Babb brought their family to Wisconsin from Ohio in the mid 1840s. At a place 55 miles northeast of Mineral Point (the capital of Wisconsin Territory), long identified by the Winnebago who inhabited these lands as a convenient place to cross the Baraboo River, Babb left a flat-bottomed boat to help move supplies. At "Babb's Ford," in 1847 David C. Reed built a dam and a shanty to house the workers who constructed it.[4] In June 1848 a sawmill followed. By 1850, "Shanty Row" comprised five tamarack shanties.[4] Reedsburg was platted in 1852, and four years later the community had grown to 50 buildings housing 27 families and 122 people.[5] The community continued under town government until 1868, when Reedsburg was incorporated as a village; it became a city in May 1887.[6]

In the 1860s, a hop boom temporarily brought wealth into the area. The Chicago & North Western Railway (C&NW) arrived in 1872.[7] In 1880, the Reedsburg Brewing Company was formed.[8] Other industries followed. Among the most important was the Reedsburg Woolen Mill. Construction was completed in 1882, and by 1899, 32 broad looms produced mainly "fancy cassimeres" for Chicago markets. In 1902 the facility was purchased by Appleton Woolen Mills, and began producing clothing for east coast outlets. Sears and Montgomery Wards became two major clients. In 1954, when Appleton Woolen Mills shifted focus to felts, the business in Reedsburg reorganized to emphasize novelty fabrics. The Reedsburg Woolen Mill, long one of the area’s largest employers, endured until 1967; most of the mill complex burned in April 1968, leaving only the mill office.[9] Also important has been the Hankscraft Company. Incorporated in Madison in 1920, Hankscraft—makers of baby bottle warmers, sterilizers and other products—thrived during the post-war baby boom, and in 1949 opened a plant in Reedsburg. In 1961, Hankscraft purchased Nursmatic Corporation, expanding their line include to bassinets, safety harnesses, baby toiletries and other products; a year later, the acquisition of Ruzicka Laboratories allowed the firm to expand once more, adding vaporizer fluids, baby oil, shampoo and lotions. In 1970, Hankscraft was purchased by Gerber Products Company, and began producing baby food. It was the town's second largest employer, exceeded only by the Reedsburg Woolen Mill.[10] In 1996, Gerber Products Company sold Hankscraft Motors, which continues to operate in Reedsburg. Other important industries have included Grede Foundry, Seats, Inc., and the Columbia Par Car Corporation.

In 1984, the Main Street Commercial Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1993, 22 miles of the C&NW rail line between Reedsburg and Elroy became the Wisconsin 400 State Trail, a hiking/biking trail named for the passenger rail line that was said to travel the 400 miles between Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul in 400 minutes.[11] In 2011, Reedsburg became home of the annual “Fermentation Fest: A Live Culture Convergence,” a ten-day celebration of agriculture, food and farming that attracts over 10,000 participants. An initiative of the Worm Farm Institute, a Reedsburg-based nonprofit that celebrates and strengthens links between rural and urban communities with sustainable agriculture and the arts, the festival includes classes, performances, and the Farm/Art DTour, a juried show of temporary art installations and produce stands that unfolds along fifty miles of local roads.[12]


Reedsburg is located at 43°32′1″N 90°0′10″W / 43.53361°N 90.00278°W / 43.53361; -90.00278 (43.533854, -90.002902).[13]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.93 square miles (15.36 km2), of which 5.83 square miles (15.10 km2) is land and 0.10 square miles (0.26 km2) is water.[14] The Baraboo River flows through the city.

Reedsburg is 12 miles southwest of the Wisconsin Dells along the Baraboo River, with scenic views of the Baraboo Range to the south. Reedsburg is located directly on the 90th meridian west. A pink quartzite marker on Main Street reads 325 feet east of this point lies the 90th meridian. The marker was dedicated on October 14, 1963, to designate Reedsburg's unique location. It was donated by Whitney Memorials and erected by the Kiwanis Club.[15]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20199,639[3]4.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[16]

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 9,200 people, 3,795 households, and 2,357 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,578.0 inhabitants per square mile (609.3/km2). There were 4,103 housing units at an average density of 703.8 per square mile (271.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.3% White, 0.6% African American, 1.0% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 1.6% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.3% of the population.

There were 3,795 households of which 34.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 37.9% were non-families. 31.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.9% 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 3.04.

The median age in the city was 35.7 years. 27% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 28.2% were from 25 to 44; 22.4% were from 45 to 64; and 14.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[17] of 2000, there were 7,827 people, 3,193 households, and 2,021 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,503.9 people per square mile (581.2/km²). There were 3,380 housing units 251.0/km² (649.4/sq mi). The racial makeup of the city was 97.44% White, 0.17% Black or African American, 0.79% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.61% from other races, and 0.78% from two or more races. 1.58% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 3,193 households out of which 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.1% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.7% were non-families. 29.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.5% 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 13.01.

In the city, the population was spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 18.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $39,152, and the median income for a family was $44,329. Males had a median income of $33,211 versus $21,973 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,828. About 5.5% of families and 7.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.3% of those under age 18 and 8.1% of those age 65 or over.


Reedsburg operates under the mayor-council form of government, with each of four districts being represented by two aldermen, along with one at-large alderman. David Estes has served as the mayor since 2009. The city is managed by an appointed city administrator.[18]


Sound Devices is headquartered in Reedsburg. Grede Foundries and Lands' End are two major employers.[citation needed]


There is access to Interstate 90/94 and State Highways 33 and 23. The city is served by the Reedsburg Municipal Airport (C35).


The School District of Reedsburg has four elementary schools serving students in kindergarten through grade 3, one intermediate school serving students in grade 3 through grade 5,[19] one middle school, and one high school.[20]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "2017 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Mar 28, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  4. ^ a b The History of Sauk County, Wisconsin. Chicago: Western Historical Company. 1880. p. 556.
  5. ^ Curry, Ross Milo (2010). Hidden History of the Wisconsin Dells Area. Chicago: History Press. p. 37.
  6. ^ "Reedsburg, Wisconsin". Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  7. ^ Sesquicentennial History Committee (1997). Reedsburg Remembers 150 Years: A History of Reedsburg, Wisconsin 1848–1998. Chelsea, MI: BookCrafters. pp. 31–32.
  8. ^ The History of Sauk County, Wisconsin: Containing an Account of Settlement. 1880. p. 565.
  9. ^ Reedsburg Remembers. 1997. pp. 279–281.
  10. ^ Reedsburg Remembers. 318, 280.
  11. ^ "Wisconsin 400 State Trail Home Page". Wisconsin 400 State Trail. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  12. ^ Shattuck, Kathryn (20 September 2013). "A Celebration of Fermentation". New York Times. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  13. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  14. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2011-02-20. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  15. ^ Society, BILL SCHUETTE Sauk County Historical. "It's about time". Retrieved 2019-07-20.
  16. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  17. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  18. ^ "Elected Officials". Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  19. ^ "School District of Reedsburg - About Us". Retrieved 2019-10-25.
  20. ^ "School District of Reedsburg Website".
  21. ^ "Clare A. Briggs". City of Reedsburg, Wisconsin. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  22. ^ Paul F. Hunter, ed. (1919). "The Wisconsin Blue Book 1919". Wisconsin Blue Books. Madison: 451–452.
  23. ^ Hans B. Warner, ed. (1879). The Blue Book of the State of Wisconsin for 1879. Madison: David Atwood. p. 504.
  24. ^ "John Harrington". Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  25. ^ "Charlie Kavanagh". Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  26. ^ a b c "Reedsburg, Wisconsin". Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  27. ^ Tranberg, Charles (2005). I Love the Illusion: The Life and Career of Agnes Moorehead. Albany, Georgia: BearManor Media. p. 19.
  28. ^ J. D. Beck, ed. (1911). The Blue Book: The State of Wisconsin. Madison: Democrat Printing Company. p. 780.
  29. ^ Henry Casson, ed. (1895). The Blue Book of the State of Wisconsin. Milwaukee: The Milwaukee Litho. & Engr. Co. p. 691.

External links[edit]