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The History of Tourism in Minocqua, WI

Crossing over the bridge on Highway 51 northbound, travelers find themselves in awe of the beauty of this island city called Minocqua, WI. To the left, a vast lake view with the iconic light beacon shining bright atop the lighthouse. To the right, a view of the mouth of the Minocqua Chain-of-Lakes surrounded by northern pine trees and eagles soaring above the water.

island city minocqua wi

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Nothing quite prepares you for the feeling of stepping back into a time before cell phones and tablets took advantage of our free time. The connection with nature and the feel of the fresh, crisp air entering our lungs reminds us of our inherent connection with the creator of the Universe. One only has to visit Minocqua once to understand how tourism began in the area and why it flourishes still to this day.

Tourism in Minocqua, Wisconsin was built on the backs of those who adored the area from the first time they saw it. From the native Ojibwe inhabitants who called the area no-qua (woman) or Nin-oco-qua (mid-day) (depending on who you talk to) to the early European settlers of the area, anyone who set foot on the island city was astonished by its raw, natural beauty.

girl outside minocqua wi resort

In early 1887, Gus Nolan, a government surveyor, brought the logging industry into the area, creating a need for railroad tracks to carry timber. As workers arrived, they undoubtedly fell in love with the area and decided to build upon its land.

After communications with the native Chief Nacwib, and the development of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad tracks in late 1887, it was decided to create the town and plot the land for future settlers and businesses. Minocqua was officially founded as a town on March 13, 1889.

railroad tracks in minocqua

Unfortunately, after just 10 years, the logging industry had managed to cut down nearly all of the hundreds of year-old hardwoods and pine trees, leaving the land bare, but ripe for building. It was then decided to focus exclusively on the beauty of the glacial lakes and develop the town into a vacation destination based on its rich waterfront.

In the 1920's, many resorts and local businesses were built to cater to the now passenger trains bringing in hundreds of visitors to the area. People from all over Wisconsin and surrounding states traveled the railroad many hours to experience the unique town that appeared to have been built right in the middle of the lake.

Nicknamed the "Island City" for good reason, Minocqua has been a top vacation destination ever since then and has flourished with visitors coming from across the United States to indulge in its natural beauty. Boaters, skiers, swimmers and fishermen have consistently voted Minocqua as the best tourist destination in Wisconsin and we agree!

lodge at birch trail resort

Birch Trail Resort Bed and Breakfast, located just outside of Minocqua, Wisconsin is a beautiful get-a-way that showcases the rich fauna and flora of the area. Located directly on Amber Lake, Birch Trail has become a highly sought after vacation destination for those who prefer the quiet serenity of life away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Minocqua. If you are ready to experience what thousands of others have had the pleasure of experiencing, then it's time to give Birch Trail a call at 715-588-1962 to book your cabin.

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