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La Crosse
City of La Crosse
Downtown La Crosse
Downtown La Crosse
Official seal of La Crosse
Seal
Location of La Crosse in La Crosse County, Wisconsin.
Location of La Crosse in La Crosse County, Wisconsin.
Coordinates: 43°48′48″N 91°13′59″W / 43.81333°N 91.23306°W / 43.81333; -91.23306Coordinates: 43°48′48″N 91°13′59″W / 43.81333°N 91.23306°W / 43.81333; -91.23306
Country  United States
State  Wisconsin
County La Crosse
Government
 • Type Mayor-council government
Area
 • City 23.79 sq mi (61.61 km2)
 • Land 21.70 sq mi (56.21 km2)
 • Water 2.08 sq mi (5.40 km2)
Elevation
669 ft (204 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • City 52,680 Increase
 • Rank US: 609th
 • Density 2,214.38/sq mi (911.34/km2)
 • Urban
100,868 (US: 298th)
 • Metro
139,627 (US: 297th)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (Central)
Zip Code
54601, 54602, 54603
Area code 608
FIPS code 55-40775
GNIS feature ID 1567672
Airports La Crosse Regional Airport
Interstate I-90

La Crosse is a city in the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the county seat of La Crosse County. Positioned alongside the Mississippi River, La Crosse is the largest city on Wisconsin's western border. La Crosse's population as of the 2020 was 52,680. The city forms the core of and is the principal city in the La Crosse Metropolitan Area, which includes all of La Crosse County and Houston County, Minnesota, with a population of 139,627.

A regional technology, medical, education, manufacturing, and transportation hub, companies based in the La Crosse area include Organic Valley, Logistics Health Incorporated, Kwik Trip, La Crosse Technology, City Brewing Company, and Trane.

La Crosse is a college town with over 20,000 students and home to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Viterbo University, and Western Technical College.

History

LaCrosseWI 1867
Artists representation of La Crosse in 1867.

The first Europeans to see the site of La Crosse were French fur traders who traveled the Mississippi River in the late 17th century. There is no written record of any visit to the site until 1805, when Lt. Zebulon Pike mounted an expedition up the Mississippi River for the United States. Pike recorded the location's name as "Prairie La Crosse." The name originated from the game with sticks that resembled a bishop's crozier or la crosse in French, which was played by Native Americans there.

The first white settlement at La Crosse occurred in 1841 when Nathan Myrick, a New York native, moved to the village at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin to work in the fur trade. Myrick was disappointed to find that because many fur traders were already well-entrenched there, there were no openings for him in the trade. As a result, he decided to establish a trading post upriver at the then still unsettled site of Prairie La Crosse. In 1841, he built a temporary trading post on Barron Island (now called Pettibone Park), which lies just west of La Crosse's present downtown. The following year, Myrick relocated the post to the mainland prairie, partnering with H. J. B. Miller to run the outfit.

The spot Myrick chose to build his trading post proved ideal for settlement. It was near the junction of the Black, La Crosse, and Mississippi Rivers. In addition, the post was built at one of the few points along the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River where a broad plain ideal for development existed between the river's bank and the tall bluffs that line the river valley. Because of these advantages, a small village grew around Myrick's trading post in the 1840s.

A small Mormon community settled at La Crosse in 1844, building several dozen cabins a few miles south of Myrick's post. Although these settlers relocated away from the Midwest after just a year, the land they occupied near La Crosse continues to bear the name Mormon Coulee.

On June 23, 1850, Father James Lloyd Breck of the Episcopal Church said the first Christian liturgy on top of Grandad Bluff. Today a monument to that event stands atop the bluff, near the parking lot at a scenic overlook.

More permanent development took place closer to Myrick's trading post, where stores, a hotel, and a post office were constructed during the 1840s. Under the direction of Timothy Burns, lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, surveyor William Hood platted the village in 1851. This opened it up for further settlement, which was achieved rapidly as a result of promotion of the city in eastern newspapers. By 1855, La Crosse had grown in population to nearly 2,000 residents, leading to its incorporation in 1856. The city grew even more rapidly after 1858 with the completion of the La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad, the second railroad connecting Milwaukee to the Mississippi River.

During the second half of the 19th century, La Crosse grew to become one of the largest cities in Wisconsin. It was a center of the lumber industry, for logs cut in the interior of the state could be rafted down the Black River toward sawmills built in the city. La Crosse also became a center for the brewing industry and other manufacturers that saw advantages in the city's location adjacent to major transportation arteries, such as the Mississippi River and the railroad between Milwaukee and St. Paul, Minnesota. Around the turn of the 20th century, the city also became a center for education, with three colleges and universities established in the city between 1890 and 1912.

La Crosse remains the largest city on Wisconsin's western border, and the educational institutions in the city have recently led it toward becoming a regional technology and medical hub.

La Crosse river front
La Crosse river front

Geography

Grandadbluff
Grandad Bluff in La Crosse

La Crosse is located on the western border of the midsection of Wisconsin, on a broad alluvial plain along the east side of the Mississippi River. The Black River empties into the Mississippi north of the city, and the La Crosse River flows into the Mississippi just north of the downtown area. Just upriver from its mouth, this river broadens into a marshland that splits the city into two distinct sections, north and south.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.54 square miles (58.38 km2), of which, 20.52 square miles (53.15 km2) is land and 2.02 square miles (5.23 km2) is water.

Surrounding the relatively flat prairie valley where La Crosse lies are towering 500 ft bluffs, one of the most prominent of which is Grandad Bluff (mentioned in Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain), which has an overlook of the three states region. This feature typifies the topography of the Driftless Area in which La Crosse sits. This rugged region is composed of high ridges dissected by narrow valleys called coulees, a French term. As a result, the area around La Crosse is frequently referred to as the "Coulee Region".

Climate

La Crosse's location in the United States' upper midwest gives the area a temperate, continental climate. The warmest month of the year is July, when the average high temperature is 84.1 °F (29 °C), with overnight low temperatures averaging 63.2 °F (18 °C). January is the coldest month, with high temperatures averaging 25.9 °F (-4 °C), with the overnight low temperatures around 8.9 °F (-14 °C).

Climate data for La Crosse, Wisconsin (La Crosse Regional Airport)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 57
(13.9)
65
(18.3)
84
(28.9)
93
(33.9)
107
(41.7)
102
(38.9)
108
(42.2)
105
(40.6)
101
(38.3)
93
(33.9)
80
(26.7)
67
(19.4)
108
(42.2)
Average high °F (°C) 25.9
(-3.39)
31.4
(-0.33)
43.9
(6.61)
59.3
(15.17)
70.7
(21.5)
80.0
(26.67)
84.1
(28.94)
81.5
(27.5)
73.2
(22.89)
59.9
(15.5)
43.8
(6.56)
29.1
(-1.61)
56.9
(13.833)
Average low °F (°C) 8.9
(-12.83)
13.6
(-10.22)
25.2
(-3.78)
37.9
(3.28)
48.7
(9.28)
58.5
(14.72)
63.2
(17.33)
61.3
(16.28)
52.4
(11.33)
40.4
(4.67)
28.1
(-2.17)
14.2
(-9.89)
37.7
(3.167)
Record low °F (°C) −43
(-41.7)
−36
(-37.8)
−28
(-33.3)
7
(-13.9)
26
(-3.3)
33
(0.6)
44
(6.7)
35
(1.7)
24
(-4.4)
6
(-14.4)
−21
(-29.4)
−37
(-38.3)
−43
(-41.7)
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.1
(28)
1.06
(26.9)
2.05
(52.1)
3.35
(85.1)
3.5
(89)
4.33
(110)
4.25
(108)
4.29
(109)
3.54
(89.9)
2.17
(55.1)
2.01
(51.1)
1.38
(35.1)
33.03
(839)
Snowfall inches (cm) 11
(28)
8
(20)
7
(18)
2
(5)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
4
(10)
11
(28)
43
(109)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.5 7.6 9.6 10.8 11.0 11.0 10.8 10.4 9.6 8.3 8.9 9.3 116.8
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 8.5 6.0 4.4 1.3 0 0 0 0 0 .3 3.2 7.3 31
Source #1: NOAA (normals 1981–2010, extremes 1948–2001)
Source #2: The Weather Channel (extreme temps)

|source 3 = U.S. climate data

Neighborhoods and districts

La Crosse has 17 voting districts (wards). Neighborhoods in the city include:

  • Washburn
  • Historic Cass & King
  • Historic downtown
  • Northside (Upper and Lower) and Old Towne
  • Hungary Point
  • Mud City
  • College Park (UW–La Crosse campus district)

Suburbs include French Island in the Town of Campbell, Holmen the Town of Medary, City of Onalaska, and the Town of Shelby.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 3,860
1870 7,785 101.7%
1880 14,505 86.3%
1890 25,000 72.4%
1900 28,895 15.6%
1910 30,417 5.3%
1920 30,421 0.0%
1930 39,614 30.2%
1940 42,707 7.8%
1950 47,535 11.3%
1960 47,258 −0.6%
1970 50,286 6.4%
1980 48,347 −3.9%
1990 51,140 5.8%
2000 51,818 1.3%
2010 51,320 −1.0%
2020 52,680 2.7%
2020 Census

According to 2013–2018 ACS estimates, the median household income was $43,516 and the median family income was $59,461. Males had a median income of $40,772 versus $33,325 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,282. About 10.1% of families and 23.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.7% of those under age 18 and 7.8% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census

At the 2010 census, there were 51,320 people, 21,428 households and 9,691 families residing in the city. The population has density was 2,501.5 per square mile (965.6/km2). There were 22,628 housing units at an average density of 1,102.7 per square mile (425.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.8% White, 2.3% African American, 0.6% Native American, 4.9% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.4% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.0% of the population.

There were 21,428 households, of which 19.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.6% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 54.8% were non-families. 37.7% of all households were composed of individuals, and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.86.

16.2% of the population were under the age of 18, 26.5% from 18 to 24, 23.1% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.4 males.

MariaAngelorum
Maria Angelorum Chapel of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

Religion

The city has a variety of religious traditions and communities, including: Catholicism, Protestantism, Anglicanism, Eastern Orthodox, Judaism, Unitarian Universalism, and Islam.

La Crosse is the episcopal see for the Roman Catholic Diocese of La Crosse. The Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman serves as the seat of the Diocese. The city is also home to St. Rose of Viterbo Convent, the mother house of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. An independent catholic school district in the city, La Crosse Aquinas Catholic Schools, is also overseen by the diocese.

Protestant churches in the city include Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Vineyard, Presbyterian, and independent traditions. The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod has five churches in La Crosse: First Lutheran Church, Grace Lutheran Church, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, and St. John's Lutheran Church.

Christ Church of La Crosse, the city's Episcopal church, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church, the city's Eastern Orthodox Church, is listed on the city's local register of Historic places.

The city is also home to the Congregation Sons of Abraham, a Jewish synagogue; the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of La Crosse, which has held services since 1951; the Islamic Society Othman Bin Afaan; and the Hmong Faith Alliance Church.

Transportation

Cass st bridge
View of the Cass St. and Cameron Ave. Bridges, which both cross the Mississippi River, from Riverside Park in Downtown La Crosse.

The La Crosse Regional Airport provides direct scheduled passenger service to Minneapolis, Detroit, and Chicago through Delta Air Lines link Endeavor Air, as well as American Airlines link Envoy Air. Sun Country and Xtra Airways provide charter service to Laughlin, Elko, Nevada, and other destinations. The airport also serves general aviation for the La Crosse region.

In 2012, the City of La Crosse was the first city in Wisconsin to pass a Green Complete Streets ordinance. This ordinance requires that when roads are reconstructed the needs of stormwater management and the safety of bicycles and pedestrians are taken into account in the new design. The city is served by several major highways and Interstate, including Interstate 90, U.S. Highway 14, U.S. Highway 53, U.S. Highway 61, Wisconsin State Highway 35, Wisconsin State Highway 16, Wisconsin State Highway 33.

The City of La Crosse's MTU bus service with routes reaching out to the suburbs served over one million users in 2007.

La Crosse transit map

On the Mississippi River, cargo is transported to and from this area to St Paul and St Louis, using towboats, primarily moving dry bulk cargo barges for coal, grain, and other low-value bulk goods.

The Mississippi River Bridge, also known as the Cass St. bridge and the newer Cameron Street bridge (photo with blue arch) both connect downtown La Crosse with La Crescent, Minnesota. These two bridges cross the Mississippi River, as does the Interstate 90 bridge located just northwest of La Crosse, connecting Wisconsin and Minnesota.

La Crosse Wisconsin Amtrak station
Amtrak station in La Crosse, Wisconsin

Railroad tracks owned by Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) pass through La Crosse providing freight service. The former Milwaukee and La Crosse Railroad/Milwaukee Road/Soo Line and now Canadian Pacific Railway runs through the city as well. It provides the track on which the La Crosse Amtrak station is located, and is a stop for the Empire Builder providing cross-country passenger rail service.

Culture

La Crosse has over 30 active arts organizations. The Pump House Regional Arts Center hosts visual arts exhibits throughout the year plus its own series of jazz, folk, and blues performers. The La Crosse Symphony is the city's regional orchestra and the La Crosse Community Theater has won both regional and national acclaim. The city is home to the Blue Stars Drum & Bugle Corps, a Drum Corps International member corps. Other arts sites include Viterbo University Fine Arts building, UW–La Crosse Art Gallery and Theater, and the La Crosse Center, which hosts national performers. Local sculptor Elmer Petersen has created sculptures that are exhibited throughout the downtown area, including La Crosse Players and the Eagle in Riverside Park.

Bars and clubs

La Crosse has many bars and nightclubs in the downtown central business district, as well as many neighborhood bars and grills.

Annual events

  • La Crosse Oktoberfest
  • La Crosse Riverfest
  • St. Elias Mediterranean Festival
  • Freedom Fest
  • Midwest Banjo Fest
  • Irish Fest
  • Wienerfest
  • Downtown Mardi Gras
  • Downtown Cameron Park Farmers Market
  • Historic Downtown La Crosse Days
  • Winter Rec Fest
  • New Year's Eve Celebration with The Skyrockers
  • Hmong New Year Parade
  • Rotary Lights Display
  • La Crosse Labor Day Parade and Celebration
  • La Crosse Storytelling Festival

Riverside Park

A Simpler Time Statue and Riverside Park levee
A Simpler Time Statue and Riverside Park (La Crosse) levee.
A Simpler Time Statue at sunset
A Simpler Time Statue in Riverside Park (La Crosse) at sunset.

Riverside Park is situated on the riverfront of downtown La Crosse near the Blue Bridges and across the river from Pettibone Park. It hosts events such as Riverfest, Fourth of July fireworks, Oktoberfest, and the Rotary Lights. The steamboats American Queen, La Crosse Queen, and Julia Belle Swain make stops along the river in the park. The park has walking/running trails.

Gallery of Historic Places

Buildings, sites, structures, districts, and objects in La Crosse listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Religion

Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman La Crosse
Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman

Catholic

La Crosse is the episcopal see for the Roman Catholic Diocese of La Crosse. The Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman is the mother church of the Diocese. St. Rose of Viterbo Convent, the mother house of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration is in La Crosse. The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is in La Crosse. Commissioned by Cardinal Raymond Burke while he was Bishop of La Crosse, it was designed by architect Duncan Stroik.

Protestant

Protestant churches include Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Vineyard, Presbyterian, independent and non-denominational.

The La Crosse Area ELCA Synod includes 43,600 members from 81 congregations in 10 counties in western Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota.

Christ Church of La Crosse is the city's Episcopal church.

Orthodox

St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church is the city's Eastern Orthodox Church.

Jewish

The Congregation Sons of Abraham is in La Crosse.

Unitarian Universalist

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of La Crosse has held services since 1951.

Muslim

Islamic Society Othman Bin Afaan is the city's Islamic mosque.

Awards and rankings

  • 2002 – National Trust for Historic Preservation Great American Main Street Award
  • 2003 - Milken Institute Best Performing Cities of the 96 Smallest Metros (20th Overall)
  • 2005 – Inc. magazine's 4th Best Small City for Doing Business
  • 2005 – Inc. magazine's 15th Best City in America to Do Business
  • 2005 – Forbes 25th Best Place
  • 2006 – 7th Safest Metropolitan Area in the Nation – Morgan Quitno Press
  • 2006 – Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranked La Crosse 16th "Smartest Place to Live in U.S.
  • 2007 – Country Home magazine ranked La Crosse 12th Best Green City in America and second among small cities, behind Corvallis, Ore.
  • 2009 – U.S. News ranked La Crosse one of the 10 best places to live in the country.
  • 2009 – Farmers Insurance Group ranked La Crosse – Winona, Minnesota area the 20th most secure place to live in the United States among small towns.
  • 2010 – Most Secure Places to Live in the US (Small Towns) – Sperling's Best Places
  • 2014 – 42nd in the Forbes list of Best Small Places for Business and Careers; and ranked 11th on Outside magazine's 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S.
  • 2015 – 247wallst.com named La Crosse the 15th Coldest City in the Nation
  • 2016 - 247wallst.com named La Crosse the 6th Drunkest City in America

Sister cities

La Crosse has sister city relationships with six foreign towns and cities:

Economy

La Crosse is the home and current global headquarters of several corporations and organizations, including:

  • Allergy Associates of La Crosse and Allergychoices, Inc., national allergy clinic and allergy services organization
  • Altra Federal Credit Union, regional credit union
  • City Brewing Company, former Heileman Old Style brewery
  • Franciscan Skemp Medical Center, health care network with flagship campus in La Crosse
  • Gundersen Health System, health care network with flagship campus in La Crosse
  • Kwik Trip, regional gas and convenience stores
  • La Crosse Technology, manufacturer of atomic clocks and weather stations
  • Marine Credit Union, regional credit union

Corporations founded and formerly headquartered in La Crosse include:

  • Cargill, America's now largest privately held corporation founded in La Crosse
  • La Croix Sparkling Water, carbonated drink originally created by the G. Heileman Brewing Company
  • LaCrosse Footwear, footwear company founded in 1897
  • Trane, international air conditioning, acquired by Ingersoll-Rand in 2008

Largest employers

As of 2012 the 10 largest employers in La Crosse were:

  1. Gundersen Health System
  2. Mayo Clinic Health System (Franciscan Skemp Medical Center)
  3. Trane
  4. Kwik Trip
  5. La Crosse County
  6. School District of La Crosse
  7. University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
  8. Logistics Health Incorporated
  9. City of La Crosse
  10. Western Technical College

Shopping

La Crosse and the surrounding communities form a regional commercial center and shopping hub. In the northeastern region of the city lies the area's largest shopping center, Valley View Mall. The surrounding area includes numerous big-box stores, and many restaurants. Other shopping centers in the La Crosse region include Three Rivers Plaza, Marsh View Center, Shelby Mall, Jackson Plaza, Bridgeview Plaza, and the Village Shopping Center. Downtown La Crosse has experienced a resurgence in recent years, providing shopping, farmers' markets, hotels, restaurants, and specialty shops.

Education

Mainhalluwl
Maurice O. Graff Main Hall on the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse campus
PostcardLaCrosseWIStateNormalSchoolCirca1907
The main hall and original building of the La Crosse Normal School.

The La Crosse area is served by the School District of La Crosse, with an enrollment of 6,632 students in 2017, making it the 16th largest school district in the state. The district has 19 elementary, middle, high and charter schools. La Crosse Central High School and Logan High School are the two public high schools serving the La Crosse area. The La Crosse School District has 631 teachers.

In 2021, the school district has proposed to consolidate schools, due to unsubstantiated claims that older school buildings are becoming too costly to maintain. This would result in the closure of two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. The school district has avoided significant public engagement due to community opposition to the plans. The opposition is rooted in both the loss of neighborhood scale schools, and the perception that the schools superintendent has a cavalier attitude towards the closure of schools, due to him residing outside of the school district.

Catholic private schools in La Crosse include La Crosse Aquinas Catholic Schools, a Roman Catholic school district affiliated with the Diocese of La Crosse, which is centered in the city and includes Aquinas High School and Aquinas Middle School. Another Roman Catholic school, the Providence Academy, is independent from the district and has no affiliation with the Diocese.

Lutheran private schools in La Crosse include First Lutheran School, Immanuel Lutheran School, and Mt. Calvary-Grace Lutheran School, which are part of the La Crosse Area Lutheran Schools organization and affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Luther High School is in Onalaska, Wisconsin.

La Crosse is the home of three regional colleges and universities. The University of Wisconsin–La Crosse is the region's leading public university and offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. Western Technical College is a public community college located in the city. La Crosse is also home to Viterbo University, a Roman Catholic private institution. The Health Science Center exists as a combined effort of all the La Crosse medical centers, universities, and government agencies with a goal of advancing students in the medical fields.

Infrastructure

Airport

Cass st bridge
View of the Cass St. and Cameron Ave. Bridges, which both cross the Mississippi River, from Riverside Park in Downtown La Crosse

The La Crosse Regional Airport, located on French Island, provides direct scheduled passenger service to Minneapolis, Detroit, and Chicago through Delta Air Lines link Endeavor Air, as well as American Airlines link Envoy Air. Sun Country and Xtra Airways provide charter service to Laughlin, Elko, Nevada, and other destinations. The airport also serves general aviation for the La Crosse region.

Roads

The city is served by several major highways and Interstate, including Interstate 90, U.S. Highway 14, U.S. Highway 53, U.S. Highway 61, Wisconsin State Highway 35, Wisconsin State Highway 16, and Wisconsin State Highway 33.

The Mississippi River Bridge, also known as the Cass St. bridge and the newer Cameron Street bridge (photo with blue arch) both connect downtown La Crosse with La Crescent, Minnesota. These two bridges cross the Mississippi River, as does the Interstate 90 bridge located just northwest of La Crosse, connecting Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Walking and Cycling

In 2012, the City of La Crosse was the first city in Wisconsin to pass a Green Complete Streets ordinance. This ordinance requires that when roads are reconstructed the needs of stormwater management and the safety of bicycles and pedestrians are taken into account in the new design. The same year, the city passed the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan to guide improvements to the transportation network for those walking or cycling in the city.

By 2018, La Crosse had 7.7 miles of on street bike lanes, 17.1 miles of paved bike paths and 12 miles of unpaved paths. However, as of 2021, La Crosse has no protected bike lanes, while bike infrastructure generally goes unmaintained through the winter months.

A new bikeshare system debuted in downtown La Crosse in April of 2021 through a partnership of La Crosse Neighborhoods, Inc and Koloni, an Iowa based bikeshare company. It is hoped that this service will be expanded across the city in the near future. There are currently 8 bikeshare stations and 40 bikes available for use.

The interstate Mississippi River Trail passes through La Crosse. However, the trail does not follow a dedicated multi-use path. The La Crosse River Trail and the Great River State Trail pass through the northern edge of the city. These trails combine to form one continuous trail from Trempealeau to Reedsburg. They are rail trails built on the former roadbed of the Chicago and Northwestern Railway.

Public Transit

Public transit in La Crosse began with the opening of a horse-drawn streetcar line in 1878. Over time, more streetcar lines were added and in 1893, all streetcars had been electrified. Beginning in the early 20th century however, increasing car ownership led to a decline of the privately run streetcar system. As a result, buses began to replace streetcars throughout the city and by November 1945, the last streetcar line closed. The City of La Crosse took over operations of the buses in the 1970's from the Mississippi Valley Public Service Company, as the buses could no longer be operated profitably.

In 1945, in the first timetable after streetcar service had ended, there were four bus routes. The earliest bus left at 5:40am and the last bus returned at 1:00am. Buses ran at a 10 to 15 minute headway throughout the day. In total, the buses provided 1519.95 hours of service per week. Today, in 2021, the MTU provides only 1141.6 hours of service per week, a decline of 24.89%.

The City of La Crosse's MTU bus service with routes reaching out to the suburbs served over one million users in 2007. As of 2021, the MTU operates 11 routes with the earliest buses beginning their routes at 5:12am and running until 10:40pm at the latest.

In addition to the MTU, there is a regional bus service, Scenic Mississippi Regional Transit, which provides service to Prairie du Chien, Viroqua, Tomah, and points in between. The service has 4 routes, which only run on weekdays.

Waterways

On the Mississippi River, cargo is transported to and from this area to St Paul and St Louis, using towboats, primarily moving dry bulk cargo barges for coal, grain, and other low-value bulk goods.

Lock and Dam No. 7 on the Mississippi River is located approximately 4.5 miles upstream from Downtown La Crosse.

LaCrosseWI AmtrakStation
Amtrak station in La Crosse, Wisconsin

Rail Transport

The first rail line to reach La Crosse arrived in 1858 from Milwaukee constructed by the Milwaukee & La Crosse Railroad. This later became the main line of the Milwaukee Road. This line became part of the Soo Line Railroad in 1985 after the Milwaukee Road went bankrupt and later came under the control of Canadian Pacific Railway. This line provides the track on which the La Crosse Amtrak station is located, served daily by the Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle or Portland. As of 2021, funding has been secured to provide a second daily train from Chicago to St. Paul, stopping in La Crosse. This service is anticipated to begin in 2024.

Railroad tracks owned by Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) pass through La Crosse providing freight service. These were originally built by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad in 1886 to connect Chicago to the Twin Cities following the east bank of the Mississippi River. This line provided passenger service as well up until May 1, 1971, when Amtrak took over intercity passenger rail operations.

Intercity Bus

Jefferson Lines serves La Crosse with one daily bus running from Minneapolis to Milwaukee via Rochester and Madison. In addition, Badger Bus offers service on Fridays and Sundays during the school year between Madison and Minneapolis via La Crosse. Both Jefferson Lines and Badger Bus make stops at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Union, while Jefferson Lines also stops at the downtown Grand River Station transit hub.

Drinking Water

La Crosse's tap drinking water, which is raised from a deep underground Artesian aquifer, won the best natural tasting water award in September 2007 in a statewide tasting competition hosted by the Wisconsin Water Association. The city competed against groundwater and surface water utilities from Algoma, Appleton, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Pell Lake, Shawano, Shawano Lake and Watertown at the annual meeting of the association. La Crosse's drinking water is pumped from deep ground wells to a distribution center and is treated with chlorine and fluoride; some wells are also treated with polyphosphate.

In recent years, the city discovered PFAS in the groundwater on French Island, WI as a result of fire fighting foam used at the La Crosse Regional Airport. This has led to the closure of two municipal wells, as well as prevented residents of parts of the Town of Campbell, WI from safely using their private wells. Over 500 wells on French Island have been contaminated and the State of Wisconsin has supplied bottled water to the affected residents.

Health care

Two major regional health care facilities are located in La Crosse: Gundersen Health System and the Franciscan Skemp Medical Center.

Gundersen Health System is a nationally ranked health care system located in La Crosse that is also an ACS nationally certified Level II Trauma Center. It is the primary hospital associated with the Gundersen Clinic medical group and the location of the Western campus for the University of Wisconsin Medical School. With its main campus located in La Crosse, the system also manages 23 locations throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa with nearly 6,000 employees. In 2014, Gundersen Health received the Healthgrades America's 50 Best Hospitals™ designation, placing the system among the top 1 percent of hospitals nationwide.

The Franciscan Skemp Medical Center is an affiliate of the Mayo Clinic. Franciscan Skemp, which was the first western Wisconsin hospital to open its doors in 1883 as St. Francis Hospital, was started by the Catholic Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, who still are associated with the medical center. In 1995, Franciscan Skemp merged with Mayo Clinic Health Systems in Rochester, Minnesota, located 60 miles away. A new trauma and emergency department, helicopter pad, and surgery wing recently opened in 2007.

The Health Science Center, located on the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse campus, is a combined effort of both medical centers, UW–La Crosse, Viterbo University, Western College, the School District of La Crosse, and various government educational groups. The purpose was to prepare and train students for advancement in the medical field.

Notable people

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