Looking east at Ulao
|Elevation||210 m (689 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central (CST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||1577866|
Ulao, Wisconsin (// yoo-LAY-oh) is an unincorporated community in the Town of Grafton in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. It is located at the intersection of Ulao Road and the old Chicago and Northwestern railroad running from Milwaukee to Green Bay. Today, I-43 runs a few hundred feet to the west of the town. The Ulao Creek runs through the community.
Just to the east of Ulao, on the shore of Lake Michigan, was the hamlet of Port Ulao, which was founded in 1847 by James T. Gifford, an investor who also founded Elgin, a sizeable city in the northern part of Illinois. Gifford began a business of selling wood to steamships heading down the lake, and built a 1000-foot wooden pier into the lake for ships to dock. He then constructed a chute down the side of a steep bluff to transport logs that farmers in the area produced while clearing land.
The same year, Gifford was granted a charter by the territorial legislature to build a plank road from Port Ulao west to the Wisconsin River. Only three miles of it were actually built, but this turnpike, now known as Ulao Road, became the basis of today's Highway 60.
Etymology of the name
Ulao contained a post office from 1850 until 1864. The community got its name only after the post office had. Several explanations of this communities name have been brought forth by individuals over the years. One of the more creative accounts alleges that the whistles of the engines of the Northwestern Railroad's pilot engines screamed something akin to "YOU LAY O" as they approached the depot here. But the author Beatrice Krier attests a more elaborate, corroborative telling of how the settlement was named. She notes that Ulao is a corruption of the Spanish word Ulloa, which was probably chosen because of a local veteran named Weber, who had participated in the Siege of Veracruz in March 1847 during the Mexican–American War, when U.S. troops under the command of Winfield Scott surrounded and overran the castle of San Juan de Ulúa, which itself was named for the Spanish explorer Francisco de Ulloa, who had navigated the western coast of Mexico as part of the 1539 expedition of the conquistador Hernán Cortés. Other stories assert that it was named after a Native American leader, or perhaps a corruption of a French name.
- Kevich Light is located in Ulao.
- Charles Guiteau, assassin of President James Garfield, was James Gifford's nephew and lived in Ulao from 1850 to 1855.
- "Ulao, Wisconsin". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- History and origin of Port "Ulao"; Jill Hewitt; Retrieved October 7, 2016
- Early History of Grafton is Recalled in Talk by Ralph Zaun
- Callary, Edward (2016). Place Names of Wisconsin. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 9780299309640.
- 'Early History of Ozaukee County, Wisconsin,' 1965, Port Ulao, pg. 61-62
- Town of Grafton Comprehensive Plan 2036, Issues and Opportunities, History of the Town, pg. 2-3
- "Ozaukee County". Jim Forte Postal History. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
- Krier, Beatrice Wester (1987). Tapestry of Luxembourgers: The Making of Belgium. Belgium, Wisconsin. p. 38.
- "Play the Name Game in Ozaukee". The Milwaukee Sentinel. 4 September 1967. pp. Part 5, Page 1. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
- History and origin of Port "Ulao"; Jill Hewitt; Retrieved October 5, 2007
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