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Baraboo, Wisconsin facts for kids

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City of Baraboo
Location of Baraboo in Sauk County, Wisconsin.
Location of Baraboo in Sauk County, Wisconsin.
Baraboo, Wisconsin is located in Wisconsin
Baraboo, Wisconsin
Baraboo, Wisconsin
Location in Wisconsin
Country United States
State Wisconsin
County Sauk
Incorporated 1882
 • Type Mayor – Council
 • City 7.43 sq mi (19.25 km2)
 • Land 7.35 sq mi (19.03 km2)
 • Water 0.09 sq mi (0.22 km2)
879 ft (268 m)
 • City 12,556
 • Density 1,656.00/sq mi (639.37/km2)
 • Metro
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 608
GNIS feature ID 1582749

Baraboo is a city in and the county seat of Sauk County, Wisconsin, United States. The largest city in the county, Baraboo is the principal city of the Baraboo Micropolitan Statistical Area. Its 2020 population was 12,556. It is situated on the Baraboo River.

Baraboo is home to the Circus World Museum, the former headquarters and winter home of the Ringling brothers circus. The Al. Ringling Theatre is an active landmark in the city. Baraboo is also near Devil's Lake State Park, and Aldo Leopold's Shack and Farm.


The area around Baraboo was first settled by Abe Wood in 1838, and was originally known as the village of Adams. In 1846 it became the county seat of Sauk County after a fierce fight with the nearby village of Reedsburg. In 1852, the village was renamed "Baraboo", after the nearby river. It was incorporated as a city in 1882.

Baraboo was the site of several sawmills early in its history because of its location near the Baraboo and Wisconsin Rivers.

The city was the home of the Ringling Brothers. From 1884 to 1917 it was the headquarters of their circus and several others, leading to the nickname "Circus City". Today Circus World Museum is located in Baraboo. A living history museum, it has a collection of circus wagons and other circus artifacts. It also has the largest library of circus information in the United States. The museum previously hosted the Great Circus Parade, which carried circus wagons and performers through the streets of Baraboo, across the state by train, and then through downtown Milwaukee.

The Al. Ringling Theatre is a grand scale movie palace in downtown Baraboo, made possible through the financial assistance of the Ringling family. The Al Ringling home still exists.

Located near Baraboo is the Badger Army Ammunition Plant, which was the largest munitions factory in the world during WWII, when it was known as "Badger Ordnance Works". The plant is no longer in use.

Cirrus Aircraft is the maker of the world's best-selling single-engine aircraft, the SR22, and was the first manufacturer to install a whole-plane parachute recovery system as a standard on all their aircraft—designed to lower the airplane safely to the ground after a loss of control or structural failure. The company was founded in a rural Baraboo barn in 1984 by brothers Alan and Dale Klapmeier to produce the VK-30 kit aircraft. After a few years of designing, they relocated to the Baraboo-Wisconsin Dells Airport and began flight testing, before ultimately moving the company in 1994 to its present-day home in Duluth, MN where they now employ over 1,000 people.


Baraboo welcome sign on WIS 33.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.47 square miles (19.35 km2), of which, 7.39 square miles (19.14 km2) is land and 0.08 square miles (0.21 km2) is water.

West Baraboo, a suburb of Baraboo, borders the city on its east side.

Baraboo gives its name to the Baraboo Syncline, a doubly plunging, asymmetric syncline in Proterozoic-aged Baraboo quartzite. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, particularly Charles R. Van Hise, used the syncline to demonstrate that small-scale deformational structures in isolated outcrops reflect larger regional structures and that sedimentary structures could indicate the original top-facing direction within elaborately deformed strata. These two principles sparked a global revolution in structural geology during the 1920s.

The nearby Baraboo Hills are designated one of the "Last Great Places" by the Nature Conservancy because of their rare rocks, plants and animals. The hills were created by glacial action, and in some points poke up from the flat terrain to form a stark contrast. Some of these features were created when a glacial pocket was formed during the Wisconsin glaciation where the advance of the glacier halted, along the edge of what is known as the Driftless Area. Devil's Lake State Park, Wisconsin's largest state park, contains large areas of the Baraboo Hills. Pewits Nest is located outside Baraboo.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 255
1860 1,360 433.3%
1870 1,528 12.4%
1880 3,266 113.7%
1890 4,605 41.0%
1900 5,751 24.9%
1910 6,324 10.0%
1920 5,538 −12.4%
1930 5,545 0.1%
1940 6,415 15.7%
1950 7,264 13.2%
1960 7,660 5.5%
1970 7,931 3.5%
1980 8,081 1.9%
1990 9,203 13.9%
2000 10,711 16.4%
2010 12,048 12.5%
2020 12,556 4.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

Baraboo forms the core of the United States Census Bureau's Baraboo Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Sauk County (2000 population: 55,225). The Baraboo µSA is just northwest of the Madison metropolitan area, with which it forms the Census Bureau's Baraboo-Madison Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 12,048 people, 5,161 households, and 3,016 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,630.3 inhabitants per square mile (629.5/km2). There were 5,619 housing units at an average density of 760.4 per square mile (293.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.0% White, 1.3% African American, 1.0% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.5% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.7% of the population.

There were 5,161 households, of which 30.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.1% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 41.6% were non-families. 34.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.89.

The median age in the city was 38 years. 23.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.5% were from 25 to 44; 25.1% were from 45 to 64; and 15.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.1% male and 50.9% female.


Baraboo includes the Downtown Baraboo Historic District, which consists of 75 commercial and civic buildings built between 1870 and 1938. The Sauk County Courthouse is in the center of the district, and it serves the county.


The Baraboo-Wisconsin Dells Airport (KDLL) serves the city and surrounding communities, and is located on Bus. US 12 3 miles north of the city. State Highways 33, 113, 136, and U.S. 12 pass through Baraboo. There is access to Interstate 90/94 nearby.


The International Crane Foundation is based in Baraboo. Dedicated to the study and conservation of the world's 15 species of crane, the organization engages in conservation research, public education, and international conservation efforts.

Historic sites

  • The Aldo Leopold Shack and Farm. celebrated in his book A Sand County Almanac (1949), is near Baraboo.
  • The Gust Brothers' Store is in Baraboo.
  • The Walworth D. Porter Duplex Residence is in Baraboo.


The School District of Baraboo has four elementary schools serving students in grades 1 through 5, one kindergarten center, one middle school and one high school (Baraboo High School).

The middle school has a swimming pool that can be accessed by the public with a seasonal membership option. There are also three parochial schools: St. Joseph's Catholic School, which serves pre-K through sixth grade; St. John's Lutheran School of the WELS, serving pre-K through eighth grade; and Community Christian School, serving 4K through high school.

St. Joseph's Catholic, under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Madison, is a parochial school. The current school building, designed by the Wisconsin Rapids company Billmeyer and Sons and with a cost of over $500,000, has 11 classrooms. The basement has a cafeteria and a combination auditorium/gymnasium. The second building for the school opened on a filled-in ravine in 1912, northeast of its associated church. The building had three floors and a basement. The first and second floors each had three classrooms, and the second floor also housed the chapel and the library. The third floor had a 600-seat auditorium while the basement had a large banquet hall/gymnasium. The second building became overcrowded due to the post-World War II baby boom, so the third school building, north of the second building, opened in 1958.

A campus of the University of Wisconsin–Baraboo/Sauk County (known to local residents as "Boo-U") is located in Baraboo.

The Baraboo Public Library serves the community. The former Free Congregational Society church was demolished by 1902 for the library's construction.

Notable people

Bradbury Robinson
  • Donald R. Atkinson, educator and writer
  • Frank Avery, Wisconsin State Senator
  • Stan Barnes, judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Virgil H. Cady, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Tiny Cahoon, NFL player
  • Jorge A. Carow, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Randy Chestnut, comedian
  • John V. Diener, mayor of Green Bay, Wisconsin
  • Evan Alfred Evans, judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals
  • Evan Glodell, film director, producer, writer, and actor
  • Elna Jane Hilliard Grahn, educator
  • Henry C. Hansbrough, U.S. Senator from North Dakota
  • John R. Hofstatter, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Guy E. Holmes, musician and composer
  • John J. Jenkins, U.S. Representative
  • Robert J. Keller, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Len Koenecke, MLB player
  • Belle Case La Follette, lawyer and activist
  • Aldo Leopold, naturalist
  • Daryl Morey, former general manager of the Houston Rockets (2007-2020), currently the President of Basketball Operations for the Philadelphia 76ers
  • Mary Mortimer (1816–1877), British-born American educator
  • Beryl Newman, Medal of Honor recipient
  • John Ringling North, circus
  • Stuart Palmer, mystery novelist
  • PHOX, folk / indie pop band
  • Delando Pratt, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Mike Reinfeldt, NFL player and executive
  • Cyrus Remington, Wisconsin State Representative and jurist
  • Ringling Brothers, circus
  • Bradbury Robinson, threw the first forward pass in football history, grew up in Baraboo
  • Algie Martin Simons, Socialist newspaper editor, attended high school in Baraboo
  • Terry Stieve, NFL player
  • Walter Terry, Wisconsin legislator
  • John M. True, Wisconsin legislator
  • C. F. Viebahn, Wisconsin State Representative
  • David Vittum, Wisconsin State Senator
  • Lewis N. Wood, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Edwin E. Woodman, Wisconsin State Senator

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Baraboo (Wisconsin) para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
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John Gavin
Desi Arnaz
Henry Ian Cusick
Pedro Pascal
Frankie Muniz
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