Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
settlement_type = City
nickname =
motto = The Waterpark Capital of the World!®

imagesize =
image_caption =


|Right|Location of Wisconsin Dells in the state of Wisconsin.
mapsize = 250x200px
map_caption = Location of Wisconsin Dells in the state of Wisconsin

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 =
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = Wisconsin
subdivision_type2 = Counties
subdivision_name2 = Columbia, Sauk, Adams, Juneau
government_type =
leader_title = Mayor
leader_name =
established_title = Founded
established_title2 = Incorporated
established_date =
established_date2 =
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 11.4
area_total_sq_mi = 4.4
area_land_km2 = 10.7
area_land_sq_mi = 4.1
area_water_km2 = 0.6
area_water_sq_mi = 0.3
area_water_percent =
area_urban_km2 =
area_urban_sq_mi =
area_metro_km2 =
area_metro_sq_mi =
population_as_of = 2000
population_note =
population_total = 2418
population_metro = 5081
population_density_km2 = 225.1
population_density_sq_mi = 583.1
timezone = Central
utc_offset = -6
timezone_DST = Central
utc_offset_DST = -5
latd = 43 |latm = 37 |lats = 36 |latNS = N
longd = 89 |longm = 46 |longs = 28 |longEW = W
elevation_m = 277
elevation_ft = 909
website = [http://www.wisdells.com Wis. Dells VCB Website]
postal_code_type =
postal_code =
area_code = 608
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 55-88150GR|2
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 1576900GR|3
footnotes =
Wisconsin Dells is a city in south-central Wisconsin, with a population of 2,418 as of the 2000 census. It is located partially within four counties: Adams County, Columbia County, Juneau County, and Sauk County. The city takes its name from the Dells of the Wisconsin River, a scenic glacially-formed gorge that features striking sandstone rock formations along the banks of the Wisconsin River. Together with nearby Lake Delton, the city forms an area known as "the Dells," a popular Midwestern tourist destination, and a popular family destination. The Dells area boasts an estimated 5 million annual visitors. [ [http://www.wisdells.com/bizsite/annualreport.pdf Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau 2004-2005 Annual Report (PDF)] ]

With 18 indoor waterparks and 3 outdoor waterparks in the Dells area, Wisconsin Dells proclaims itself as the "Waterpark Capital of the World". It is home to the largest outdoor water park in the U.S., Noah's Ark. It has over 70 acres of water slides. The Dells is also home to some of the nation's largest Indoor Waterpark resorts, like the Kalahari Resort, the Great Wolf Lodge, Chula Vista Resort, and the Wilderness Resort. Kalahari's indoor water park is Wisconsin's largest, with convert|125000|sqft|m2 of water park space. Some other attractions in "the Dells" include the Dells Boat Tours, Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park, many golf courses, mini golf, go-karts, water sports, horseback riding, Tommy Bartlett's Thrill Show and Exploratory, the Ho-Chunk Casino and many other places of interest. Most attractions are located on the Strip, otherwise known as the Wisconsin Dells Parkway. Accommodations range from economical motels to RV parks, to chain hotels, and to themed resorts featuring indoor and outdoor water parks and other amenities.


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 2,418 people, 1,019 households, and 609 families residing in the city. The population density was 583.1 people per square mile (225.0/km²). There were 1,178 housing units at an average density of 284.1/sq mi (109.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.56% White, 0.37% African American, 0.87% Native American, 0.25% Asian, 0.33% from other races, and 0.62% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.70% of the population.

There were 1,019 households out of which 26.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.5% were married couples living together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.2% were non-families. 34.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.0% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 27.3% from 25 to 44, 23.6% from 45 to 64, and 19.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 87.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,699, and the median income for a family was $46,304. Males had a median income of $29,830 versus $22,553 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,447. About 4.0% of families and 7.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.7% of those under age 18 and 3.0% of those age 65 or over.


Wisconsin Dells was founded as Kilbourn City in 1857 by Byron Kilbourn, who is notable for also founding Kilbourntown, one of the three original towns at the confluence of the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic Rivers that joined to become Milwaukee. Before the establishment of Kilbourn City, the region around the dells of the Wisconsin River was primarily a lumbering area until 1851, when the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad was chartered with Kilbourn as its president. The railroad made plans to bridge the Wisconsin River near the river's dells, and a boomtown named Newport sprang up at the expected site of the bridge in 1853. The population of this new city quickly swelled to over 2,000, but when the railroad finally came through the area in 1857 it took nearly everyone by surprise by crossing the river a mile upstream from the site of Newport. As a result, Newport was rapidly turned into a ghost town as the settlers flocked to the new city at the site of the railroad bridge, Kilbourn City. Gradually, tourism became a large part of Kilbourn City. To make it easier for tourists to identify Kilbourn City with the natural landscape for which it was famous, in 1931, the name of the city was changed to Wisconsin Dells. As the twentieth century progressed, new attractions would begin to draw even more tourists.

Because of the scenery provided by the dells of the Wisconsin River, Kilbourn City quickly became a popular travel destination in the Midwest. In 1875, early landscape photographer H. H. Bennett established a studio in the city and took many photos of the sandstone formations in the dells, including stereoscopic views. Prints of these photographs were distributed across the United States, further enhancing the status of Kilbourn City as a destination for sightseers. Taking advantage of this, Bennett began offering to take souvenir pictures of visitors to the dells, becoming one of the first to capitalize on the area's burgeoning tourist trade. Today, the H. H. Bennett Studio is a historic site operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society.

The dells region remained primarily a place for sightseers to escape the bustle of the city for many decades. In 1856, Leroy Gates began taking tourists on boat tours of the Wisconsin Dells. These boat tours were given using wooden rowboats until 1873 when the first steamboat, the Modocawanda, was used. By 1894, gasoline powered tour boats were used for the tours. In 1908, the Kilbourn Dam was installed despite protests from people such as H. H. Bennett, separating the Dells into the Upper and Lower Dells. Since the time of LeRoy Gates, the Dells Boat Tours have gone through many owners. Some of these previous companies were The Riverview Boat Line, The Olson Boat Line (owned by Jack B. Olson), and The Dells Boat Company.

A few other events of interest took place during this time, including the June 16, 1911, impact of a 772-gram stony meteorite in rural Columbia County near the city, damaging a barn.

In 1946 a Milwaukee native named Mel Flath brought the first DUKW to the Wisconsin Dells. It was an impulse buy which he made at a government auction in California; The trip's purpose was to purchase war surplus trucks. Mel opened the "Dells Amphibian Line" which gave 90-minute tours in the Wisconsin River, exposing tourists to the area's famous sandstone formations. Mel would eventually sell his duck fleet to the Associated Boat lines in 1952, which renamed themselves, the Wisconsin Ducks, Inc. In 1952 the Wisconsin Ducks, Inc. began offering tours of the river dells and adjacent areas using decommissioned amphibious DUKW vehicles from World War II. Jack B. Olson started the Wisconsin Ducks, Inc.; they remain one of the area's most popular attractions. However, duck competition was far from over after the 1952 sale. Mel Flath would open up a duck ride again briefly from 1964 - 1966. When he was bought out again, the Soma Boat Company opened up their own duck ride on Mirror Lake, near Lake Delton, WI, which they called the Aquaducks. In response to the competition, Wisconsin Ducks, Inc. took on the name "Original Wisconsin Ducks." The Aquaducks existed from 1968 until their sale to the boat lines in 1976. In 1977 yet another duck ride began, this time by Mel Flath's daughter and son-in-law, George and Suzanne Field, named Dells Duck Tours, Inc. operating from the same property Mel did 30 years prior. This time sporting a red, white and blue exterior, these ducks, while not the "original" ducks that were first brought here, were still actual World War II production models. Today, the Dells Duck Tours, Inc. are known as the Dells Army Ducks after a paint scheme change in 2002.

Lake Delton, Wisconsin Dells' sister city to the south, gradually became popular as the Dells attractions spread out. In 1952, a new traveling performance from Chicago called the "Tommy Bartlett's Thrill Show" came to Lake Delton on its second stop. Following the show's huge success in the city, its owner, Tommy Bartlett, chose to keep the performances permanently in Wisconsin Dells. To promote the show, Bartlett gave away bumper stickers advertising his thrill show and the city, effectively spreading word about the area across the nation. Soon more attractions followed to serve the ever-increasing number of tourists, along with countless hotels, shops, and restaurants.

Beginning in the late 1970s and continuing to the present, the Dells area (Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton) has become a water park mecca. Noah's Ark Water Park opened in Lake Delton in 1979, and has grown to become the largest and the eighth most visited water park in the U.S. Other outdoor amusement and water parks followed, featuring water slides, mini golf, roller coasters, go-karts, and other attractions. In 1994 the Polynesian Resort Hotel opened the area's first indoor water park. Since then, the number of combination resort/indoor water parks in the Dells area has swelled, with each new indoor park a bit larger than the last, in an effort to claim the "world's largest" title for the resort. Several others have come including Mount Olympus Water and Theme Park, Wilderness Territory, Great Wolf Lodge, Chula Vista Resort, and the Kalahari Resort. In 2005, Big Chief merged with the former Family Land Water Park and Treasure Island Hotel to create a large theme park on the border of Lake Delton and Wisconsin Dells, complete with a hotel, arcades, roller coasters, go-karts, and water slides under the banner of Mount Olympus Water and Theme Park. The Kalahari Resort is a large African-themed resort which boasts the largest indoor water park in the United States.

Wisconsin Dells Gallery

State Temperature Record

On July 13, 1936, the temperature in Wisconsin Dells reached 114 °F (46 °C), the highest temperature ever recorded in Wisconsin. [ [http://www.aos.wisc.edu/~sco/divisions/4700-TX-EX.html UW-Madison Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences] ]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.4 square miles (11.4 km²), of which, 4.2 square miles (10.7 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.6 km²) of it (5.68%) is water. According to the [http://www.doa.state.wi.us/docs_view2.asp?docid=2270 Wisconsin Department of Administration] , on January 19, 2004 the city annexed land from the Town of Lyndon in Juneau County, thus expanding the city to include area in four counties.



*Wisconsin Dells (Amtrak station)

External links

* [http://www.citywd.govoffice2.com The City of Wisconsin Dells government website]
* [http://www.wisdells.com Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau]
* [http://www.wiscnews.com/wde Wisconsin Dells Events Local Newspaper]
* [http://kilbournfire.com The Kilbourn Fire Department: Wisconsin Dells Volunteer Fire Department]
* [http://www.wisdellsdowntown.com Downtown Wisconsin Dells] The Official Website of Downtown Wisconsin Dells

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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