Wisconsinites have invented lots of stuff. The first kindergarten in the US, possibly the world, took place in Watertown. Love milk shakes or smoothies? The blender was created in Wisconsin; so was the first ice cream sundae and modern typewriter. Let’s not forget smooth toilet paper. There was a time when toilet paper rolls often had splinters of wood in them. Ouch!
As the 30th state admitted to the Union in 1848, its bordering states are Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota. Wisconsin is also known as “the Badger State”, but that has nothing to do with the animal as most people think. It refers to the lead miners of the 1820s who traveled for work and even dug tunnels to find somewhere to sleep and stay warm—in the same way as a badger!
What really happened in…
- People have lived in Wisconsin for thousands of years. The land was inhabited by many Native American tribes. These tribes included: the Ottawa, Ojibwe, Kickapoo, Huron, Sioux, and the Ho-Chunk.
- In 1634, the first European came, a French explorer named Jean Nicolet. He found a land rich in beaver furs. Soon Europeans began trading their goods for furs and then took these furs back home where they were in high demand.
- In 1689, a French trader named Nicolas Perrot claimed this land for France.
- In 1754, war broke out between France and Britain. The British won the war in 1763 and gained control of the French land, which included Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin became part of the United States in 1783 after the American Revolution.
- The British were forced out of the area during the War of 1812.
- In the 1820s, lead ore was discovered in Wisconsin. This brought in a lot of new settlers who began to take over the land. Native Americans were forced by the United States government to move out of Wisconsin but later returned and fought battles against the US Army known as the Black Hawk War.
- In 1882, the first hydroelectric plant in the world (that generates electricity from water) was built at Fox River in Appleton.
Stuff you should know about…
- In 1917, Wisconsin was the first state to use a numbered system to organize trails and roads throughout the state.
- Wisconsin is America’s undisputed Dairyland. It is the number one producer of cheese in the US and ranks second in terms of the best milk producers. That’s why Wisconsinites are sometimes called “Cheeseheads”.
- Wisconsin has more than 15,000 lakes and 13,500 miles of streams and rivers.
- The Republican Party was founded in 1854 as the anti-slavery party in the city of Ripon.
Crazy, funny, or just plain weird…
- Snowball fights are illegal in the city of Wausau.
- Farm animals have the right of way on Wisconsin roads and highways.
- There are three different UFO festivals held around the state every year in locations known to have an unusually high number of UFO sightings.
Tell me more about…
- The coldest temperature ever recorded in Wisconsin happened in Sawyer Country in 1996. The temperature dropped to -55 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrr!
- In 2021, a man in Green Lake County almost made history: he grew a pumpkin that weighed 2,520 pounds, which would have set a record in this country as the heaviest pumpkin ever grown and also second heaviest in the world. But he didn’t win any prize. The pumpkin cracked!, which disqualified it from competition.
What other unique facts do you know about Wisconsin? Whether you’re a native, a frequent visitor or simply fascinated by state history, email us your interesting info and we’ll post it – with credit to you – on social media!