Portage is a city in Columbia County, Wisconsin, United States. It is the county seat Columbia County. As of the 2010 census, 10,662 people lived in Portage.. It is the largest city in Columbia County. The city is part of the Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Location of Portage, Wisconsin
|• Total||9.62 sq mi (24.92 km2)|
|• Land||8.82 sq mi (22.84 km2)|
|• Water||0.80 sq mi (2.07 km2)|
|Elevation||794 ft (242 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||1,170.5/sq mi (451.9/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central (CST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||1571799|
Portage was named for the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway. It is a portage between the Fox River and the Wisconsin River. It was found by Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet during their discovery of a route to the Mississippi River in 1673. The slogan of the city is "Where the North Begins."
The Native American tribes that once lived here, and the European settlers that moved here later, used the lowlands between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers as a natural "portage". The French fur traders called the place "le portage". This later became the name of the community. As a portage, this community grew as a center of commerce and trade. Later, a canal was built to support this trade.
By the end of the 17th century, the Fox-Wisconsin waterway was the major fur trade path between Green Bay and Prairie du Chien. In the 1780s and 1790s, traders built their warehouses at each end of The Portage. In the early 19th century, Portage was mostly populated by Metis. In 1828, the federal government saw the economic importance of The Portage. They built Fort Winnebago at the Fox River end. Portage became the county seat in 1851. The community incorporated as Portage City in 1854.
- Walt Ambrose, NFL player
- Peter J. Boylan, U.S. Army general, President of Georgia Military College
- Ben Brancel, Wisconsin politician
- Maureen Brunt, U.S. Olympian
- Guy W.S. Castle, Medal of Honor recipient
- Jeffrey Dahmer, serial killer
- Zona Gale, writer, Pulitzer Prize winner
- Charles W. Henney, U.S. Representative
- John Edward Kelley, U.S. Representative from South Dakota
- Margery Latimer, writer
- John Muir, naturalist
- Russell W. Peterson, former Governor of Delaware
- Mike Thompson, NFL player
- Frederick Jackson Turner, historian, Pulitzer Prize winner
Wisconsin in 1718, Guillaume de L'Isle map, showing the historic portage.
- "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Jaqueline Peterson and Jennifer S. H. Brown, The New Peoples, p. 44