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55 Fun Facts About Wisconsin

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Let’s discover the beauty of Wisconsin with these fun facts about Wisconsin. It’s the birthplace of the Republican Party, the creator of Earth Day, the inventor of Barbie, and so much more! 

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Fun Facts About Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a state of majestic landscapes, rich cultural heritage, famous personalities, and amazing history. Hence,  it is no surprise that this Midwest state is full of fun facts that will surprise you. 

In this article, I’ve discussed the best fun facts about Wisconsin to give you a glimpse of how wonderful it is. So, read on. 

1. Wisconsin Is the 30th to Join the US 

Let’s start with one of the historical fun facts about Wisconsin.

Wisconsin became the 30th state to join the Union on May 29, 1848. However, the state has a rocky history. Despite having a growing population in 1840, the state voted against statehood four times, as they feared high taxes!

55 Fun Facts About Wisconsin

Yet, once the citizens of Wisconsin saw the benefits of joining the Union, they voted for statehood in 1848. 

2. Milwaukee Is the Biggest City in Wisconsin

Here’s one of the basic fun facts about Wisconsin. 

As per the population statistics of 2023, Milwaukee is the most populous city in Wisconsin with a total population of 555,640. It is also the 31st most populous city in the whole US. 

Milwaukee consists of 33% White people and 38.9% African Americans. There are also 7.64% of non-White Hispanics and 6.96% of White Hispanics.

3. Madison Is the Capital of Wisconsin

Milwaukee is the most populous and popular city in Wisconsin, but it’s not the state’s capital. 

Instead, Madison was named the capital of Wisconsin on November 28, 1836. This is mainly because the city occupies a central location between the developing cities around Milwaukee and Prairie du Chien.

Madison isn’t as populated as Milwaukee, as it has a population of 274,506 in 2023.

4. The Badger State Is the Nickname of Wisconsin

Let’s discuss some nickname-related facts about Wisconsin. 

One of the most popular nicknames of Wisconsin is “The Badger State.” If you believe this nickname is because of actual badgers, it is not true! 

This nickname came from the early lead miners in the 1800s who lived in mines or dug tunnels just the way badgers live underground. Since then, many people have referred to Wisconsin as the Badger State.

You’ll even find a badger on the Wisconsin state seal and even the mascot of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

5. “Wisconsin” Is a Native American Word

Here are some fun facts about Wisconsin and the origins of its name. 

The name “Wisconsin” comes from a Native American language family, the Algonquian language. The word roughly translates to “River Running Through A Red Place,” which refers to the Wisconsin River.

6. 11 Native American Tribes Still Live in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is one of the US states with many recognized Native American tribes. 

The 11 federally recognized Native American tribes in Wisconsin include – the Ho-Chunk Nation, Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin, Oneida Nation, Forest County Potawatomi, Stockbridge-Munsee, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. 

The rest are the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, St. Croix Chippewa, and Sokaogon Chippewa. 

7. Wisconsin Shares Borders With 4 US States

This is one of the random geographical fun facts about Wisconsin. 

If you look at the US map, you’ll find that Wisconsin is bordered by four statesMinnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, and Michigan to the northeast (beside Lake Michigan).

8. Two Huge Lakes Border Wisconsin 

Apart from four states, Wisconsin also has two lakes surrounding it. 

Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world, surrounds Wisconsin in the north. 

On the other hand, Lake Michigan, the largest freshwater lake within the US territory, borders Wisconsin on the east.

9. The Republican Party Started in Wisconsin 

Let’s get into some political fun facts about Wisconsin. 

You may have heard about the Republican Party. After all, it is one of two main parties of the US currently.  But, did you know that it was actually started in Wisconsin? 

In 1854, a group of anti-slavery activists like Alvan E. Bovay and Horace Greeley, gathered in Ripon, Wisconsin to oppose the expansion of slavery! Hence, they proposed a new party, named the Republican Party. 

10. Timms Hill Is the Highest Point in Wisconsin 

Wisconsin isn’t exactly known for its mountains. Yet, it still has some high hills. 

Timms Hill, the highest natural point in Wisconsin, is situated in Timms Hill County Park in Price County in northern Wisconsin. 

The hill has a height of 1,952.1 feet above sea level. It is pretty low compared to the highest points in other states! 

There’s also a 10-mile hiking trail, which allows you to explore Wisconsin’s beautiful forests from the top. 

11. Mark Ruffalo Was Born in Wisconsin

Let’s get into some celebrity-related fun facts about Wisconsin. 

If you are into movies, you might’ve seen Mark Ruffalo, the American actor, starring in many acclaimed films like “The Avengers”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, and “Shutter Island.”

Mark was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on November 22, 1967. However, he spent many of his teen years in Virginia. 

12. Wisconsin Is the First State to Have Kindergarten Classes in the US

This is one of the impressive fun facts about Wisconsin!

The credit for starting the first kindergarten in the US goes to Margarethe Schurz, a German educator. She opened a kindergarten in Watertown, Wisconsin, in 1856 for the betterment of the immigrant German community. 

After getting inspired by Margarethe, Elizabeth Peabody also established the first American English-language kindergarten in Boston, in 1860. 

Kindergartens certainly revolutionised child education in the US. 

13. The American Robin Is the State Bird of Wisconsin 

Wisconsin is home to over 454 bird species. Out of these, the Wisconsin Legislature declared the American Robin or the Robin Redbreast as the state bird in 1949. 

The American Robin is a common resident of Wisconsin. Therefore, you’ll find this lovely reddish-orange bird flying across the beautiful forests of Wisconsin.

14. Evidence of Human Life in Wisconsin Dates Back to 14500 Years Ago 

Let’s understand some history-related fun facts about Wisconsin, as the state became an important region for archaeology. 

According to National Geographic, archaeologists found many mammoth bones that are at least 14,500 years old! These bones even have marks of human-made weapons, showing that humans inhabited present-day Wisconsin more than ten thousand years ago.

Today, you can see the display of these mammoth bones at the Milwaukee Public Museum in Wisconsin. 

15. The First Europeans to Come to Wisconsin Were French 

Although Native Americans inhabited the Wisconsin region, the first Europeans to settle there were the French. 

The French explorer, Jean Nicolet, was the first European to explore Wisconsin. It is believed that the French mingled with the Native American tribes in the region for fur trade and commerce. 

Therefore, the French also continued to rule Wisconsin until 1763. Later, the British acquired and ruled the state under the “Treaty of Paris” until the American Revolutionary War in 1783. 

16. Wisconsin Is Famous for Its Cheese

This is one of the cheesiest fun facts about Wisconsin!

Wisconsin is the best US state if you love cheese. The state has the most number of licensed cheesemakers (around 1,290) in the entire country. 

Additionally, Wisconsin also ranks first in the production of various cheese varieties such as Mozzarella, Cheddar, Brick, Muenster, and many more. 

Apart from quantity, Wisconsin also focuses on quality, as I’ve found that it has strict standards for cheese-making. 

17. Wisconsin Has a Cheese Museum 

Since you already know that Wisconsin is a heaven for cheese lovers, here is one more fact to prove the claim!

The National Historic Cheesemaking Center Museum in Monroe, Wisconsin is a must-visit for those interested in cheese-making. 

The cheese museum is well-known for its 100-year-old on-site factory, producing many different types of cheese. 

Note that the museum will reopen on May 2nd, 2024 if you’re planning to visit Wisconsin!

18. Willem Dafoe Was Born in Wisconsin

Here’s another one of the fun facts about Wisconsin and its famous people. 

Willem Dafoe is yet another American actor from Wisconsin. He was born on July 22, 1955, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Later on, he also attended Appleton East High School and the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee before relocating to New York. 

Many people recognize Willem for his brilliant roles in movies like “The Last Temptation of Christ”, “At Eternity’s Gate”, and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

19. Wisconsin Has More Than 15,000 Lakes 

These fun facts about Wisconsin are truly baffling! 

Minnesota is often considered the “Land of Lakes” due to the presence of more than 10,000 lakes. 

Then, there’s Wisconsin, which has more than 15,000 lakes, or 15,074, to be exact. However, only 40% of the lakes in Wisconsin are named. The rest are unnamed, and have an area of less than 10 acres. 

The largest lake in Wisconsin is Lake Winnebago with an area of 557 square kilometres, followed by Lake Petenwell (93.2 square kilometres), and Lake Chippewa (59.05 square kilometres).

20. Wood Violet Is the State Flower of Wisconsin

Here are some fun facts about Wisconsin and its state flower. 

Wisconsin has over 2300 plant species. The Wood Violet was declared the state flower of Wisconsin in 1909 because it represents the state’s natural beauty. Additionally, the choice was made by a few students!

Apart from Wisconsin, Wood Violet is also the state flower of New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Illinois.

21. Wisconsin’s Greater Prairie Chicken Almost Went Extinct 

Here’s one of the not-so-fun fun facts about Wisconsin. 

The Greater Prairie Chicken, commonly found in Wisconsin, almost went extinct in the 1930s due to hunting and habitat loss. Many natural Prairie fields were turned into farmlands, destroying this species. 

The Wisconsin Legislature introduced laws to reduce the hunting of these chickens. It also took other awareness and conservation methods to educate the people about the bird’s near-extinction. 

22. The Typewriter Was Invented in Wisconsin 

This is one of the most historic fun facts about Wisconsin. 

Christopher Latham Sholes, a resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, invented the first typewriter in September 1867. Later on, it was patented in 1868 by Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soule.

After the typewriter’s invention, the first commercial typewriter was introduced in 1873. 

23. Wisconsin’s Favorite Dessert is Frozen Custard

If you have a sweet tooth like I do, these fun facts about Wisconsin will make your mouth water. 

Frozen custard is an integral part of Wisconsin’s culture. This delicious dessert is made up of cream, eggs, and sugar. Hence, it’s slightly smoother than ice cream.

Some of the best places to try frozen custards in Wisconsin include Kopp’s Custard, Gilles Frozen Custard, and Leon’s Frozen Custard

Despite being called the “Frozen Custard Capital of the World”, the frozen custard wasn’t introduced in Wisconsin, but the Coney Island, New York, in 1919.

24. Wisconsin Enjoys a Very Diverse Wildlife 

Seeing how lush-green Wisconsin is, these fun facts about Wisconsin and its wildlife aren’t astonishing! 

The state houses around 668 native vertebrates. The most common animals are coyotes, bobcats, white-tailed deer, American black bears, fox squirrels, and many more.

These animals roam about on more than 16 million acres of forest land in Wisconsin, which is about 46% of the state’s land area!

25. Sugar Maple Is Wisconsin’s State Tree

There are 128 total native tree species in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Legislature picked the Sugar Maple as the official state tree in 1949.

Before 1949, a group of school students also voted to declare Sugar Maple as the state tree in 1893.

26. Wisconsin Has a Lot of Waterparks 

Wisconsin seems like a state that is simply rich in nature. Yet, it is also known for its thrilling water parks that will totally give you an adrenaline rush!

Wisconsin Dells, a city in Wisconsin, has 20 fun indoor water parks. These include – Noah’s Ark Waterpark, Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park, Chula Vista Resort Waterpark, and Atlantis Waterpark Hotel & Suites. Each water park has its own theme and unique rides.

27. You Can Visit Laura Ingalls Wilder’s House in Wisconsin

If you want to read books by a Midwestern girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder is one of the best writers. 

Laura is well-known for her works such as “Little House on the Prairie,” “On the Banks of Plum Creek,” and “Little House in the Big Woods.”

You can also get to visit her birthplace and home at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Pepin, Wisconsin.

28. Wisconsin Is Known for Grid-Based Addresses 

Here are some quirky fun facts about Wisconsin. 

If you ever look at an address in Wisconsin, you may feel confused. After all, they contain many alphanumeric letters (Eg. W156-N8480). 

This unique way of writing addresses is because certain Wisconsin cities use a grid-based addressing system. Therefore, the map coordinates of a place are also included in the address. 

29. Corn Is the Number One Crop in Wisconsin 

Here are some agriculture-related fun facts about Wisconsin. 

Wisconsin is one of the major producers of corn. There are more than 3 million acres of cornfields in the state. Moreover, corn adds about $1 million to Wisconsin’s economy through grain trade.

The state has more than 15,000 corn farmers and 5,199 jobs in the corn industry. Most of the corn farms (94%) are also family-owned.

30. Don’t Miss Milwaukee Public Museum in Wisconsin

If you are a history buff, read these fun facts about Wisconsin. 

Opened in 1884, the Milwaukee Public Museum is one of the best museums in Wisconsin. It’s situated in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and houses more than 4.5 million historical specimens and artefacts!

The museum is spread across 150,000 square feet. You can explore the various exhibits in the form of Streets of Old Milwaukee, the European Village, the Rainforest Dome, etc.

31. Georgia O’Keeffe Was Born in Wisconsin 

As I mentioned earlier, many famous personalities were born in Wisconsin. 

Georgia O’Keeffe, the talented American painter, was born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin on November 15, 1887. She completed her high school education at Sacred Heart Academy in Madison, Wisconsin, and moved to Virginia. Later, Georgia painted many of her iconic works in New Mexico. 

Some of the famous works of Georgia O’Keeffe are “Black Iris,” “Red Canna,” and “Jimson Weed.”

32. You Will Find a Hamburger Hall of Fame in Wisconsin!

Here’s one of the funny fun facts about Wisconsin. 

Many people believe that hamburgers were invented in Wisconsin. Folks from a little town, Seymour, in Wisconsin, claim that they made the first hamburger at a fair in 1885! Hence, their town should have the title of “The Home of the Hamburger.”

The Seymour Historical Society even established a Hamburger Hall of Fame on Depot St in Seymour. You can find many hamburger souvenirs at the museum. The town also organises a hamburger festival with rallies and balloons!

33. Wisconsin Is One of the Top Green Bean Producers in the US

Apart from corn, Wisconsin is also well-known for being a huge green bean producer in the US.

Wisconsin is the largest producer of green or snap beans in the US, as it produces more than 30% of the total quantity. 

In 2019, the state produced about 6.6 million counterweight (CWT) of green beans

34. Harley-Davidson Was Founded in Wisconsin

If you love bikes, here are some fun facts about Wisconsin for you. 

Wisconsin is the birthplace of Harley Davidson. The company was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1903 by William Harley, Arthur Davidson, Walter Davidson, and William  Davidson. 

The crazy thing is that they started the company in a small shed behind the Davidson’s house. It was only in 1906 that they constructed a small one-story factory for their company.  

35. Wisconsin Is the Birthplace of Ice Cream Sundae 

Who doesn’t love ice cream sundaes? Well, we have to love Wisconsin for introducing us to them!

Even though it is a debated topic, there are many claims that state that the first ice cream sundae was made in Twin Cities, Wisconsin

It is believed that in 1881, a man named George Hallauer, asked the owner of a local soda fountain shop, Edward Berner, to top his ice-cream dish with chocolate sauce. Therefore, the owner started selling this special ice cream dish only on Sundays! 

36. Wisconsin Produces Almost All of the Ginseng in the US 

You might have heard of Ginseng if you love Korean cuisine! After all, it is one of the core ingredients in it. 

Wisconsin is technically the “Ginseng Capital” of the US, as it’s the largest producer. In fact, the state grows about 90% to 95% of the total Ginseng grown in the US. The majority of it is grown in Marathon County.

Statistics say that the state grows more than a million pounds of Ginseng annually! It is consumed both by the US and used for exporting to other countries.

37. Barbie Is From Wisconsin 

This is one of the most iconic fun facts about Wisconsin. 

Greta Gerwig’s movie “Barbie” absolutely killed it globally. Barbie has also been a major part of our childhood. Yet, have you ever wondered where this fictional character and toy might be from? Well, it was Wisconsin. 

If you check Barbie’s website, you’ll find that she is from a tiny town, named Willows, in Wisconsin. Moreover, you will also get to see a Barbie collection at the Wisconsin Historical Society. One of the best pieces is a Barbie wearing the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s cheerleading uniform.

38. Danica Patrick Was Born in Wisconsin 

The list of famous people who were born in Wisconsin is pretty much endless. 

If you think women can’t drive, Danica Patrick can prove you wrong. She is one of the most famous female professional racing drivers in American open-wheel car racing. 

Danica was born on March 25, 1982, in Beloit, Wisconsin. She spent the next few schooling years of her life in Illinois. Yet, her racing practice and career started from Brodhead in Wisconsin. 

39. Wisconsin Has the Circus World Museum

Circuses have been a huge part of our world’s history. Hence, Wisconsin has dedicated a whole museum to it. 

Circus World is a museum situated in Baraboo, Wisconsin. It contains many circus-related items and artefacts, such as elephant houses, animal houses, baggage horse barns, and even a wardrobe department. 

Most of the artefacts are related to the Ringling Brothers, who started a circus in Wisconsin in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

40. Wisconsin Has a Very Bike-Friendly City

This is one of the fun facts about Wisconsin that I absolutely love!

Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, is an extremely bike-friendly city with more than 300 kilometres of biking trails. You can even find 40 stations for rentable bikes in the city. 

The League of American Bicyclists has recognized Madison as one of the best biking cities in the whole US. 

41. Wisconsin Has an Interesting Flag

Here are some fun facts about Wisconsin and its state flag.

Wisconsin’s state flag consists of a huge blue field with its own coat of arms. The coat of arms is made up of a sailor and a miner with a shield in between. Both of them signify the important industries of Wisconsin. 

Additionally, the flag has a badger, representing the state’s official animal. There’s also a pile of 13 lead ingots, which shows how mineral-rich the state has been. The number 13 signifies the original US states. 

42. “Forward” Is the State Motto of Wisconsin

I love these motto-related fun facts about Wisconsin!

Wisconsin’s motto is a simple word “Forward” but it signifies the state’s strength. Wisconsin aims to move forward in everything and become a leading state in the US. The state declared “Forward” as its official motto in 1851.

43. Frank Lloyd Wright Is From Wisconsin 

Frank Lloyd Wright, a renowned architect in the US, was born on 8th June 1867 in Richland Center, Wisconsin. He used to study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison but didn’t finish his studies.

Instead, Frank created over 1,000 structures, including Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, Robie House in Chicago, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, and Taliesin in Wisconsin.

44. Wisconsin Had Five Capitol Buildings!

Here are some crazy fun facts about Wisconsin. 

Forget about one or two, Wisconsin has had five capitol buildings till now. 

The first capitol was constructed in Belmont. Then, the capital was moved to Madison where the second Capitol was built. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by fire in 1904. 

The third Capitol, which is still standing, was constructed on the same site and completed in 1917. Wisconsin has had a few temporary capitol buildings in between the constructions. 

45. Margarine Was Almost Banned in Wisconsin

Here is one of the surprising fun facts about Wisconsin!

Margarine is a substitute for butter made out of animal or plant fats. However, it was almost banned in 1902 in Wisconsin to protect the dairy farm owners who felt threatened by the increasing popularity of yellow-dyed margarine. 

The Wisconsin Legislature prohibited people from adding yellow colour to margarine. This would keep it away from people who wanted actual butter and not margarine. 

In 1967, the Wisconsin Legislature removed this ban. Still, many restaurants in Wisconsin can’t use margarine in place of table butter even today.

46. A Russian Satellite Landed in Wisconsin (Sputnik IV)

This is one of the intriguing fun facts about Wisconsin. 

Sputnik IV, the Russian/Soviet satellite, crashed in front of the Rahr-West Art Museum, in the small town of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, on September 5, 1962.

The satellite had spent two years in orbit and wasn’t supposed to crash. 

47. Wisconsin Has a Population of 5.9 Million 

As of 2023, the total population of Wisconsin stands at around 5.89 million. It’s the 20th most populous state in the US and the 23rd largest state with an area of 169,640 square kilometres.

48. Earth Day Was Started in Wisconsin

April 22 is considered “Earth Day” all over the world. But, did you know that it was started by a Wisconsin Senator, Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat from Clearlake, Wisconsin, in 1970?

Senator Nelson wanted to increase environmental awareness to protect the Earth. In that year itself, more than 20 million people participated in the event. 

49. Flag Day Was Started in Wisconsin  

Apart from Earth Day, Flag Day also started in Wisconsin.

Flag Day began in Wisconsin when a teacher, Bernard J. Cigrand, suggested to his students, in 1885 to honour the American flag on June 14. Though it became a national day in 1916, his efforts laid a foundation to go ahead with the day!

50. Milk Is the State Beverage of Wisconsin 

Here’s a fun fact about Wisconsin’s state beverage.

Wisconsin declared milk as its official state drink in 1987. This decision was made to pay respect to the state’s dairy industry, which is a huge part of Wisconsin’s history and economy. 

51. Wisconsin Has an Official State Dance 

This is one of the cool fun facts about Wisconsin!

In 1993, the Wisconsin Legislature declared Polka as the official state dance. It is mainly because of the influence that the German and the Czech-Polish culture has had on Wisconsin. 

52. Green Bay, Wisconsin Is Known as the Toilet Paper Capital of the World

Green Bay, a city in Wisconsin, became the “toilet paper capital of the world” in 1920. 

The city was home to the leading toilet paper-producing companies such as Northern Paper Mills. Over the years, the city produced toilet paper, including “butt painless toilet paper,” which led to its hilarious nickname!

53. Cranberry Is the State Fruit of Wisconsin

In 2003, cranberry became the official state fruit of Wisconsin. The fruit is important to the state’s history, agriculture, and economy, as it produces 60% of the country’s cranberries.

54. Wisconsinites Love Ice Cream! 

I’m not telling these fun facts about Wisconsin because of the fact that the state might’ve invented ice cream sundae. 

Instead, Wisconsinites love ice cream to the extent that they consume 21 million gallons (79.5 million litres) of it annually!

55. Milwaukee in Wisconsin Might Have Had the World’s Largest Music Festival 

These last few fun facts about Wisconsin are for music lovers.

No, the world’s largest music festival isn’t in LA. It’s the Summerfest, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, since its launch in 1968. In 1999, it was declared the “World’s Largest Music Festival” by Guinness World Records.

The fest is organised at the Henry Maier Festival Park near Lake Michigan between June and July.

Further Reading: Facts About Wisconsin

Wisconsin is truly an impeccable state with legendary people, crazy inventions, and love and dedication toward ice cream! I hope you got to know more about it through these fun facts about Wisconsin.

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