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Port Edwards, Wisconsin
Port Edwards municipal building
Port Edwards municipal building
Location of Port Edwards in Wood County, Wisconsin.
Location of Port Edwards in Wood County, Wisconsin.
Country  United States
State  Wisconsin
County Wood
 • Total 6.48 sq mi (16.79 km2)
 • Land 5.23 sq mi (13.56 km2)
 • Water 1.25 sq mi (3.23 km2)
974 ft (297 m)
 • Total 1,818
 • Estimate 
 • Density 336.84/sq mi (130.05/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
Area code(s) 715 & 534
FIPS code 55-64200
GNIS feature ID 1571796
Population sign on WIS 54 / WIS 73

Port Edwards is a village in Wood County, Wisconsin, United States. The village is located northeast and adjacent to the Town of Port Edwards. The population was 1,818 at the 2010 census.


Port Edwards was known as "Frenchtown" until 1869, when it was renamed in honor of John Edwards, a local mill owner.

The settlement formed around a sawmill built about 1829. It was first owned by Messrs. Grignon and Merrill, who partnered in the mill for some time. It then passed on to Merrill and Whitney in 1836. In 1840 the mill was bought by John Edwards Sr. and his partner, Henry Clinton. It was then that the sawmill business, known as the Edwards and Clinton Company, began to prosper. The partnership didn't last. Because of Clinton's financial troubles, he had to transfer portions of his equity to Edwards throughout the years. By 1862 Edwards owned 100 percent of the business and changed the name to John Edwards and Company. A few years later, active management was given over to his son, John Jr. The senior Edwards died In 1871.

Mrs. Edwards wrote of the community in the 1860s, "the settlement was small only consisting of a store, a blacksmith shop, a school, two boarding houses and a number of white houses." With his success in the sawmill business, Edwards decided to run for the Wisconsin legislature as an assemblyman in 1890. After his election, he moved to Madison in 1891, leaving his business to be managed by his son-in-law, Lewis M. Alexander.

By the end of the 19th century most sawmills in central Wisconsin had gone out of business. Alexander decided to take a risk and convert the sawmill company into a paper mill company, completing the conversion in 1896. Although the change proved economically challenging, the company eventually succeeded, although it experienced ups and downs reflecting the overall economy.

With the town heavily dependent on the mill, it slowly grew to become the community it is today. Today the village consists of a small cluster of 1890s to 1940s homes that have been preserved and refurbished. Although the mill shut down in 2008, the village has not turned into a ghost-town. This little village still honors its past, naming the high school in honor of John Edwards. Lewis M. Alexander's house still stands and has been turned into the Alexander House Center for Art & History.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 7.28 square miles (18.86 km2), of which, 6.03 square miles (15.62 km2) of it is land and 1.25 square miles (3.24 km2) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 136
1910 758
1920 755 −0.4%
1930 988 30.9%
1940 1,192 20.6%
1950 1,336 12.1%
1960 1,849 38.4%
1970 2,126 15.0%
1980 2,077 −2.3%
1990 1,848 −11.0%
2000 1,944 5.2%
2010 1,818 −6.5%
2019 (est.) 1,763 −3.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 1,818 people, 711 households, and 499 families residing in the village. The population density was 301.5 inhabitants per square mile (116.4/km2). There were 750 housing units at an average density of 124.4 per square mile (48.0/km2). The racial makeup of the village was 94.9% White, 0.9% African American, 1.3% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.7% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.3% of the population.

There were 711 households, of which 32.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.4% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 29.8% were non-families. 24.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.90.

The median age in the village was 43.5 years. 23.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.6% were from 25 to 44; 25.6% were from 45 to 64; and 22% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the village was 47.6% male and 52.4% female.


Employment in Port Edwards has long been dominated by paper making. The primary employer, Domtar Inc., closed its mill in mid-2008.

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