Vilas County, Wisconsin

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Vilas County
Vilas County Courthouse
Vilas County Courthouse
Map of Wisconsin highlighting Vilas County
Location within the U.S. state of Wisconsin
Map of the United States highlighting Wisconsin
Wisconsin's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 46°03′N 89°31′W / 46.05°N 89.51°W / 46.05; -89.51
Country United States
State Wisconsin
FoundedApril 12, 1893
Named forWilliam Freeman Vilas
SeatEagle River
Largest cityEagle River
Area
 • Total1,018 sq mi (2,640 km2)
 • Land857 sq mi (2,220 km2)
 • Water161 sq mi (420 km2)  16%%
Population
 • Total23,047
 • Density26.9/sq mi (10.4/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district7th
Websitewww.vilascountywi.gov

Vilas County is a county in the state of Wisconsin, United States. As of the 2020 census, the population was 23,047.[1] Its county seat is Eagle River.[2] The county partly overlaps the reservation of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

History[edit]

Native Americans[edit]

Native Americans have lived in what is now Vilas County for thousands of years. The county contains archaeological sites dating to the prehistoric Woodland period.[3] In the eighteenth century, the area was disputed by the Dakota and Ojibwe people. According to oral histories, the conflict culminated in Ojibwe victory in a battle on Strawberry Island in Flambeau Lake around 1745.[4] Ojibwe people have continued to live in the area ever since, securing the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation in the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe.[5]

Settlement[edit]

The first recorded white settler was a man named Ashman who established a trading post in Lac du Flambeau in 1818.[6]

In the 1850s migrants from New England, primarily from Vermont and Connecticut, constructed wagon roads and trails through Vilas County including the Ontonogan Mail Trail and a military road from Fort Howard to Fort Wilkins in Copper Harbor, Michigan.[6]

Vilas County was set off from Oneida County on April 12, 1893, and named for William Freeman Vilas. Originally from Vermont, Vilas represented Wisconsin in the United States Senate from 1891 to 1897.[7][8]

Logging era[edit]

Logging began in the late 1850s. Loggers came from Cortland County, New York, Carroll County, New Hampshire, Orange County, Vermont and Down East Maine in what is now Washington County, Maine and Hancock County, Maine.[9] Many dams were built throughout the county to assist loggers as they sent their timber downstream to the lumber and paper mills in the Wisconsin River valley.[6] After the county was founded in 1893 and logging ceased to be the primary industry in the area, migrants seeking other forms of employment settled in the county. These later immigrants primarily came from Germany, Ireland and Poland though some came from other parts of the United States as well.[9]

Geography[edit]

Sign for Vilas County on U.S. Route 45

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,018 square miles (2,640 km2), of which 857 square miles (2,220 km2) is land and 161 square miles (420 km2) (16%) is water.[10] There are 1,318 lakes in the county. Much of Vilas County is covered by the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest as well as extensive county forest lands. Vilas County waters drain to Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and the Mississippi River. The Wisconsin, Flambeau, and Presque Isle Rivers all find their headwaters in Vilas County.

Adjacent counties[edit]

Major highways[edit]

Buses[edit]

Airports[edit]

National protected areas[edit]

Although these two forests have been administratively combined into the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, it is important to note that the county contains portions of both original forests.

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
19004,929
19106,01922.1%
19205,649−6.1%
19307,29429.1%
19408,89421.9%
19509,3635.3%
19609,332−0.3%
197010,95817.4%
198016,53550.9%
199017,7077.1%
200021,03318.8%
201021,4301.9%
202023,0477.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[11]
1790–1960[12] 1900–1990[13]
1990–2000[14] 2010[15] 2020[1]

2020 census[edit]

As of the census of 2020,[1] the population was 23,047. The population density was 26.9 inhabitants per square mile (10.4/km2). There were 24,486 housing units at an average density of 28.5 per square mile (11.0/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 85.5% White, 9.8% Native American, 0.3% Black or African American, 0.3% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 3.7% from two or more races. Ethnically, the population was 2.0% Hispanic or Latino of any race.

2000 census[edit]

2000 Census Age Pyramid for Vilas County

As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 21,033 people, 9,066 households, and 6,300 families residing in the county. The population density was 24 people per square mile (9/km2). There were 22,397 housing units at an average density of 26 per square mile (10/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 89.69% White, 0.20% Black or African American, 9.08% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.19% from other races, and 0.65% from two or more races. 0.86% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 37.8% were of German, 7.9% Polish, 6.6% Irish and 5.3% English ancestry. 95.9% spoke English, 1.3% Spanish and 1.2% German as their first language.

There were 9,066 households, out of which 23.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.40% were married couples living together, 7.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.50% were non-families. 26.00% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.73.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 20.70% under the age of 18, 5.00% from 18 to 24, 23.10% from 25 to 44, 28.50% from 45 to 64, and 22.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 99.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.80 males.

In 2017, there were 186 births, giving a general fertility rate of 74.9 births per 1000 women aged 15–44, the 7th highest rate out of all 72 Wisconsin counties.[17] Additionally, there were twelve reported induced abortions performed on women of Vilas County residence in 2017.[18]

Economy[edit]

The economy in Vilas County is based on tourism centered on its high concentration of lakes and forests. Hunting and sport fishing are the backbones of the fall economy, and ice fishing and especially snowmobiling makes up the bulk of the economy in the wintertime. Logging, forestry, construction and government also account for important parts of the local economy.

Municipalities[edit]

The municipalities with their population within Vilas County and their total population as of the 2010 Census, are:[19]

Cities[edit]

Towns[edit]

Census-designated places[edit]

Other unincorporated communities[edit]

Notable people[edit]

Politics[edit]

United States presidential election results for Vilas County, Wisconsin[20]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 9,261 60.26% 5,903 38.41% 205 1.33%
2016 8,166 60.00% 4,770 35.05% 675 4.96%
2012 7,749 55.98% 5,951 42.99% 142 1.03%
2008 7,055 51.31% 6,491 47.21% 204 1.48%
2004 8,155 58.24% 5,713 40.80% 134 0.96%
2000 6,958 56.47% 4,706 38.19% 658 5.34%
1996 4,496 43.04% 4,226 40.46% 1,723 16.50%
1992 4,616 40.99% 3,764 33.42% 2,882 25.59%
1988 5,842 60.09% 3,781 38.89% 99 1.02%
1984 5,965 66.09% 2,940 32.57% 121 1.34%
1980 6,034 60.80% 3,293 33.18% 597 6.02%
1976 4,929 59.30% 3,209 38.61% 174 2.09%
1972 4,422 65.92% 1,907 28.43% 379 5.65%
1968 3,339 58.12% 1,798 31.30% 608 10.58%
1964 2,827 49.78% 2,841 50.03% 11 0.19%
1960 3,508 64.25% 1,942 35.57% 10 0.18%
1956 3,683 74.07% 1,267 25.48% 22 0.44%
1952 3,687 70.85% 1,497 28.77% 20 0.38%
1948 2,665 58.30% 1,688 36.93% 218 4.77%
1944 2,021 48.91% 2,079 50.31% 32 0.77%
1940 2,251 46.92% 2,470 51.48% 77 1.60%
1936 1,298 31.31% 2,559 61.74% 288 6.95%
1932 1,138 34.29% 2,036 61.34% 145 4.37%
1928 1,609 58.45% 1,083 39.34% 61 2.22%
1924 873 42.11% 119 5.74% 1,081 52.15%
1920 903 66.06% 255 18.65% 209 15.29%
1916 531 48.45% 467 42.61% 98 8.94%
1912 304 32.94% 327 35.43% 292 31.64%
1908 794 71.73% 278 25.11% 35 3.16%
1904 1,467 79.08% 322 17.36% 66 3.56%
1900 1,208 69.27% 488 27.98% 48 2.75%
1896 754 62.01% 443 36.43% 19 1.56%


Images[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "2020 Decennial Census: Vilas County, Wisconsin". data.census.gov. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 10, 2022.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ Chapman, Valerie M. (May 2008). "Detailed archaeological analysis of LDF-030D (47Vi257) of the Lac du Flambeau Reservation, Vilas County, Wisconsin". Retrieved July 10, 2022.
  4. ^ Entz, Gary (January 23, 2019). "Strawberry Island: The Heart of Lac du Flambeau". WXPR. Retrieved July 10, 2022.
  5. ^ "About Us". Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. Retrieved July 10, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c Vilas County, WI Government Main Page Archived December 6, 2015, at the Wayback Machine Accessed January 11, 2011
  7. ^ William Freeman Vilas: Doctrinaire Democrat Front Cover Horace Samuel Merrill State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1954
  8. ^ Vilas County History Archived November 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ a b History of Northern Wisconsin Illustrated. Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1881.
  10. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  11. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  12. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  13. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  14. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  15. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  16. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  17. ^ "Annual Wisconsin Birth and Infant Mortality Report, 2017 P-01161-19 (June 2019): Detailed Tables". Archived from the original on June 19, 2019. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  18. ^ Reported Induced Abortions in Wisconsin, Office of Health Informatics, Division of Public Health, Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Section: Trend Information, 2013-2017, Table 18, pages 17-18
  19. ^ "GCT-PH1 Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County -- County Subdivision and Place". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  20. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved November 9, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°03′N 89°31′W / 46.05°N 89.51°W / 46.05; -89.51