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Colby, Wisconsin
Downtown Colby
Downtown Colby
"A Growing Community Proud of Its Heritage"
"Home of Colby Cheese"
Location of Colby in Clark Countyand Marathon County, Wisconsin.
Location of Colby in Clark County
and Marathon County, Wisconsin.
Country  United States
State  Wisconsin
Counties Clark, Marathon
 • Total 1.64 sq mi (4.26 km2)
 • Land 1.64 sq mi (4.25 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.01 km2)
1,352 ft (412 m)
 • Total 1,852
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,188.41/sq mi (458.98/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
Area code(s) 715 Exchange: 223
FIPS code 55-16150
GNIS feature ID 1563232

Colby is a city in Clark and Marathon counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. It is part of the Wausau, Wisconsin Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,852 at the 2010 census. Of this, 1,354 were in Clark County, and 498 were in Marathon County. The city is bordered by the Town of Colby, the Town of Hull, and the City of Abbotsford. Colby cheese was first created in Colby.


When the Wisconsin Central Railroad was building its line through the wilderness heading toward Lake Superior, it finished its 1872 construction season with rails completed to the site of today's Colby. The place was initially called "Section 53," but the railroad renamed the station in honor of Charles L. Colby, partner in the construction company that was building the railroad, and the son of the railroad's financier Gardner L. Colby.

Colby is the birthplace of Colby cheese. A historical marker in downtown Colby commemorates the development of Colby cheese by Joseph Steinwand in 1874. Colby cheese is no longer made in the city of Colby, although a factory east of town cuts and packages it. The former Colby cheese factory west of the city is a dilapitated building.


Colby is located at 44°54′36″N 90°19′1″W / 44.91000°N 90.31694°W / 44.91000; -90.31694 (44.910186, -90.317058).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.57 square miles (4.07 km2), of which, 1.56 square miles (4.04 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 259
1900 667
1910 869 30.3%
1920 798 −8.2%
1930 849 6.4%
1940 903 6.4%
1950 989 9.5%
1960 1,085 9.7%
1970 1,178 8.6%
1980 1,496 27.0%
1990 1,532 2.4%
2000 1,616 5.5%
2010 1,852 14.6%
2019 (est.) 1,949 5.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 1,852 people, 714 households, and 474 families living in the city. The population density was 1,187.2 inhabitants per square mile (458.4/km2). There were 757 housing units at an average density of 485.3 per square mile (187.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.4% White, 0.6% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 8.6% from other races, and 0.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.9% of the population.

Colby City Hall

There were 714 households, of which 32.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.2% were married couples living together, 9.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 33.6% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.99.

The median age in the city was 36.9 years. 25.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.6% were from 25 to 44; 21.7% were from 45 to 64; and 20% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.1% male and 51.9% female.


Since 1961 Colby has put on the Colby Cheese Days festival on the third weekend in July. Events include a softball tournament, tractor pull, carnival rides, bingo, cheese-curd throwing contest, a fun-run, and finally a parade. Free cheese is distributed by vendors and food stands.


Colby is part of the Colby School District. Schools in the district include a preschool, elementary school, middle school and high school. Students attend Colby High School. Also located within the city is St. Mary's Catholic School, which serves students from 1st through 8th grade. The private and public schools have collaborative sports and band programs.

Notable people

  • Kirk Baumgartner, NAIA college football All-American at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point
  • Todd Boss, poet
  • George Washington Blanchard, U.S. congressman
  • James E. Lyons, Wisconsin State Representative and Mayor of Colby
  • Joseph Weix, Wisconsin State Representative

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