Price County was created on March 3rd, 1879, when Wisconsin Governor
William E. Smith signed Chapter 103, Laws of 1879. Mr. W. T. Price,
for whom Price County was named, was President of Wisconsin Senate
and an early logger in Price County. The original boundaries,
a near perfect rectangle, 31 miles wide and 42 miles long, still
Price County is the 5th largest land area among the State's 72
counties. Translated, the 31 mile by 42 mile area contains 806,840
acres or 1,268 square miles. Of these 800,000 plus acres, approximately
18,000 acres are covered by water. Vast areas of the total are
public lands, with the Chequamegon National Forest accounting
for 151,626 acres, State owned property at approximately 28,500
acres, and County owned lands totaling 90,000 acres. In addition,
Managed Forest and Forest Crop lands owned by private entities account for more than
128,733 acres. This totals
in excess of 400,000 acres open to the public.
The lands which became Price County were a part of the vast pine
covered area of Northern Wisconsin. This valuable timber was attracting
attention in the 1870's because lumber was in great demand. Our
numerous rivers (part of the Chippewa and Wisconsin River network),
the steady northward advancement of the Wisconsin Central Railroad,
the sawmills and tanneries soon made Price County the center of
logging and lumbering operations. The supposedly inexhaustible
forests did not last long. In 25 years, most of the pine was gone
and with it the romantic era of logging. The trees that had stood
for centuries provided necessary materials for the expansion of
the western frontier and growth for our nation.
Now a new era began. Logging turned to hardwoods and hemlock.
Nearly all of this was cut into lumber in local mills, some being
put to use for special finished products. Our population changed
too, and was growing. The transient lumberjack was replaced by
home seeking settlers. Lands were homesteaded or purchased from
timber companies and families appeared. Cut over lands became
small farms and permanent homes. Rural communities grew, many
with the predominant nationality groups. Villages were incorporated,
larger villages became small cities. Township governments increased
in number and schools and churches dotted the county.
Logging and millwork continued, but were no longer dependent of
a single economy. Agriculture was the hope of the future. Farming
has been the largest single occupation in Price County for sixty-odd
years. Everything that climate and growing season would permit
has been tried. Many have been successful, some have failed. Dairy
farming, with some other specialized farming has proven to be
best for the use of our lands.
Today, new industry has replaced the traditional sawmills. Some
still exist, along with a paper mill, hardboard planed and specialized
wood industries, to use the raw materials from our forest. A variety
of factories using the latest equipment. Manufactures have found
Price County a good place to produce and distribute a variety
of products. Industries and the number of people they employ are
on the increase.
Our forests, cut over, burned over, mistreated, are again furnishing
timber and raw materials. Thanks to fire prevention and protection,
and good management programs, this resource again is available.
National, state, county and private forests, all with long-term
planning will provide future timber. Price County is still a predominately
forest county. The value and beauty of a growing forest is appreciated
by all. It is unlikely that our lands will be depleted again.
Price County has now taken its place as one of Northern Wisconsin's
most popular recreation counties. Woods and water combine to make
it attractive. A fine system of roads, and abundance of public
lands, a variety of recreational facilities - such as public boat
launching sites, snowmobile trails and cross-country ski trails,
bring visitors and summer residents in increasing numbers.
Price County, during its 126 years, has experienced its great
years and made the most of its lean years. It has contributed
its share to state and national efforts. Today with its diversified
economy and its energetic citizens, it ranks as one of the leaders
in Northern Wisconsin.