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Rhinelander, Wisconsin
Looking east at downtown Rhinelander with view of the Oneida County Courthouse dome
Looking east at downtown Rhinelander with view of the Oneida County Courthouse dome
Location of Rhinelander in Oneida County, Wisconsin.
Location of Rhinelander in Oneida County, Wisconsin.
Rhinelander, Wisconsin is located in Wisconsin
Rhinelander, Wisconsin
Rhinelander, Wisconsin
Location in Wisconsin
Rhinelander, Wisconsin is located in the United States
Rhinelander, Wisconsin
Rhinelander, Wisconsin
Location in the United States
Country United States
State  Wisconsin
County Oneida
Area
 • Total 8.68 sq mi (22.47 km2)
 • Land 8.42 sq mi (21.82 km2)
 • Water 0.25 sq mi (0.65 km2)
Elevation
1,549 ft (472 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 8,285
 • Density 907.28/sq mi (350.30/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Zip Code
54501
Area code(s) 715 & 534
FIPS code 55-67200
GNIS feature ID 1572231

Rhinelander is a city in, and the county seat of, Oneida County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 8,285 at the 2020 census.

History

The area that eventually became the city of Rhinelander was originally called Pelican Rapids by early settlers, named for the stretch of rapids just above the convergence of the Wisconsin and Pelican Rivers. Around 1870, Anderson W. Brown of Stevens Point and Anson P. Vaughn traveled up the Wisconsin River in order to cruise timber for Brown's father, E. D. Brown. Upon arriving at the meeting point of the Wisconsin and Pelican Rivers at the site of John Curran's trading post, and seeing the high banks along the rapids and the excellent pine stands, Anderson Brown envisioned a mill town with a lumber mill powered by the waters of the Wisconsin River. Brown's vision would not come to fruition for some years, however after subsequent expeditions with others including his brother and Rhinelander's first mayor, Webster Brown, the brothers managed to convince their father and uncle to purchase the land from the federal government and build a town. In its charter, the city was named Rhinelander after Frederic W. Rhinelander of New York, who was president of the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Road at the time. This was part of a bid by the Brown brothers to induce the railroad to extend a spur to the location to further their lumbering business. Ultimately, after over ten years of negotiations, the Brown family agreed to convey half their land holdings in the area to the railroad in exchange for a rail line to their future city. In 1882, the railroad line from present-day Monico to Rhinelander was completed, jump starting the development of Rhinelander as the commercial hub of the region.

Geography

Rhinelander is located at 45°38′22″N 89°24′44″W / 45.63944°N 89.41222°W / 45.63944; -89.41222 (45.639515, -89.412086).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.61 square miles (22.30 km2), of which, 8.34 square miles (21.60 km2) is land and 0.27 square miles (0.70 km2) is water.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 2,658
1900 4,998 88.0%
1910 5,637 12.8%
1920 6,654 18.0%
1930 8,019 20.5%
1940 8,501 6.0%
1950 8,774 3.2%
1960 8,790 0.2%
1970 8,218 −6.5%
1980 7,873 −4.2%
1990 7,427 −5.7%
2000 7,735 4.1%
2010 7,798 0.8%
2020 8,285 6.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, 7,798 people, 3,545 households, and 1,876 families resided in the city. The population density was 935.0 inhabitants per square mile (361.0/km2). The 3,981 housing units averaged 477.3 per square mile (184.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.2% White, 1.0% African American, 1.2% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 1.3% of the population.

Of the 3,545 households, 26.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.6% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 47.1% were not families. About 39.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.10 and the average family size was 2.79.

The median age in the city was 40 years; 21.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25% were from 25 to 44; 25% were from 45 to 64; and 19.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.0% male and 53.0% female.

Transportation

Major highways

Business plate.svg
US 8.svg
BUS US 8 serves the city of Rhinelander.
US 8.svg
U.S. 8 runs eastbound to Crandon, Wisconsin. Westbound, US 8 routes to Prentice, Wisconsin.
WIS 17.svg
WIS 17 travels north to Eagle River, Wisconsin and south to Merrill, Wisconsin. This route is on the eastern side of Rhinelander.
WIS 47.svg
WIS 47 runs north to Woodruff, Wisconsin and runs south to Antigo, Wisconsin.

Airport

Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport (KRHI) serves Rhinelander and the surrounding Oneida county communities with both scheduled commercial jet service and general aviation services. Located 2 mi southwest of the city, the airport handles about 24,958 operations per year, with around 88% general aviation, 6% scheduled commercial air service and 6% air taxi. The airport has a 6,799-ft concrete primary runway with approved ILS, GPS and VOR/DME approaches (runway 9-27) and a 5,201-ft asphalt crosswind runway with approved GPS approaches (runway 15-33). In addition, the Rhinelander VORTAC (RHI) navigational facility is located at the field.

Tourism

The Rhinelander area has numerous vacation destinations, offering fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, ATVing, mountain biking and hiking, hunting, golfing, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and bird watching. It also serves as a main shopping and lodging area for the Northwoods. During the summer, there is a flea market on the Highway 17 bypass.

Culture

Hodag 002
A modern statue of the Hodag on display in front of the Rhinelander chamber of commerce.

Rhinelander is the home of the Hodag, a folkloric green and white creature said to stalk the local woods. The Hodag serves as mascot for the city and for Rhinelander High School and Northwoods Community Secondary School.

  • The Rhinelander Flea Market is held every Wednesday between Labor Day and Memorial Day by the ice arena.
  • An arts and cultural center is in the former Federal Building downtown. ArtStart Art Gallery artstartrhinelander.org
  • There is an annual Christmas parade on the day after Thanksgiving in the downtown. Santa Claus is among the parade participants.
  • Rhinelander is home to the Hodag Country Festival, a country music festival.
  • Oneida County Fair
  • Hext Theater
  • Oktoberfest
  • Potato Fest

Museums

  • ArtStart Art Museum
  • CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Museum
  • Logging Museum
  • Rhinelander Historical Society Museum
  • Rhinelander School Museum

Recreation

Parks

Golf

  • Northwood Golf Course - located at 3131 Golf Course Road

Economy

Rhinelander is a commercial, industrial, and recreation hub for the Northwoods area of Wisconsin. Because of the forests, lakes, and trails in the area, it is both a summer and winter vacation destination. It has a paper mill and a hospital.

Education

  • The Rhinelander School District serves the area.
  • Zion Lutheran School is a Christian Pre-K-8 school of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod in Rhinelander.
  • The Lake Julia campus of Nicolet Area Technical College is located just outside Rhinelander.
  • A University of Wisconsin program, School of the Arts at Rhinelander, takes place every summer.

Notable people

  • Deming Bronson, Medal of Honor recipient
  • Webster E. Brown, U.S. Representative
  • Elizabeth Burmaster, Wisconsin Superintendeant of Public Instruction and former president of Nicolet Area Technical College
  • Jason Doering, former professional football player for the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Giants
  • Darrell Einertson, MLB player
  • Dan Forsman, professional golfer, winner of five PGA Tour events
  • Clarence W. Gilley, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Rita Gross, theologian, educator, and writer, grew up on a dairy farm in the Rhinelander area.
  • John Heisman, college football's Heisman Trophy namesake, is buried in Rhinelander. A wooden statue honors Heisman at the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport.
  • Walt Kichefski, NFL player
  • John Kotz, 1941 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player
  • Craig Ludwig, former professional hockey player
  • Neil McEachin, Wisconsin State Representative and judge
  • Bernard N. Moran, Wisconsin State Senator
  • T. V. Olsen, author
  • Alvin E. O'Konski, U.S. Representative
  • Parker Retzlaff, NASCAR Driver
  • Arthur M. Rogers, Wisconsin State Representative
  • Richard J. Saykally, professor of chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, was born in Rhinelander
  • Vanessa Semrow, Miss Wisconsin Teen USA 2002, Miss Teen USA 2002
  • Joan Valerie, film actress
  • John C. Van Hollen, Wisconsin politician and realtor
  • Robert Vito, television journalist
  • Dale Wasserman, playwright
  • Mike Webster, Pro Football Hall of Fame member
  • Jean M. Wilkowski, United States diplomat
  • Kathryn Givney, Actress on stage and in films

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