Forest County is a county located in the northern part of Wisconsin, named for its vast forest cover. This county has a rich and interesting history that has shaped its unique culture and way of life. From its wildlife to its people, here are seven fascinating facts about Forest County's history:
1. The County Was Created From Another County
Forest County was initially part of the larger Oconto County, but as early as 1878, residents began calling for a separate county. Due to its vast size and lack of population density, Oconto County was difficult to manage, and a separate county would allow for more effective governance. The Wisconsin State Legislature eventually granted them their wish, and Forest County was created in 1885.
2. Forest County is Home to an Abundance of Wildlife
Forest County is known for its beautiful and diverse wildlife. The county is home to several types of birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles, including gray wolves, black bears, bald eagles, and ruffed grouse. The area is also popular for hunting and fishing, making it a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
3. Native Americans Played a Significant Role in the County's History
The Menominee Indian tribe has lived in the area that is now Forest County for thousands of years. They have a strong cultural presence in the county, and their language, artwork, and traditions can still be seen today. In fact, the Menominee Indian Reservation is just to the south of the county.
4. The County Was Home to a Lumber Boom
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Forest County was home to a thriving lumber industry. The abundant forests provided an abundant supply of timber, which was used to build houses, furniture, and other goods. The county was home to several sawmills, and the town of Laona was once a major lumber hub.
5. Forest County Has a Unique Agricultural History
Despite being primarily known for its forests and wildlife, Forest County once had a flourishing agricultural industry. Farmers in the county grew crops like oats, wheat, and potatoes, and dairy farms were also common. Today, many of those crops have been replaced by Christmas tree farms, which are a significant part of the local economy.
6. The County Was Once a Major Railroad Hub
The arrival of the railroad in the late 1800s transformed the county's economy. The main line of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad cut through the county, allowing for easier transportation of timber and other goods. This led to the creation of several railroad towns, including Crandon and Laona.
7. The County Was Home to a Notorious Gangster
Al Capone, the infamous Chicago gangster, once owned a summer home in the county. It is rumored that he used the property as a hideout during Prohibition, and there are still stories of secret tunnels and hidden rooms on the property. Today, the home is privately owned and not open to the public.
In conclusion, Forest County in Wisconsin has a diverse and interesting history that has shaped its culture and way of life. From its abundant wildlife to its agricultural and lumber industries, this county has a rich past that deserves recognition.
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