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Stoughton, Wisconsin
Downtown Stoughton
Downtown Stoughton
Location in Dane County and the state of Wisconsin.
Location in Dane County and the state of Wisconsin.
Country United States
State Wisconsin
County Dane
 • Total 5.09 sq mi (13.18 km2)
 • Land 4.92 sq mi (12.74 km2)
 • Water 0.17 sq mi (0.44 km2)
876 ft (267 m)
 • Total 12,611
 • Estimate 
 • Density 2,563.2/sq mi (989.7/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
Area code(s) 608
FIPS code 55-77675
GNIS feature ID 1574965

Stoughton is a city in Dane County, Wisconsin, United States. It straddles the Yahara River about 20 miles southeast of the state capital, Madison. Stoughton is part of the Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 12,611.

Known for its Norwegian heritage, Stoughton hosts a citywide celebration of Syttende Mai, the Norwegian constitution day. Part of the city's celebration of its Norwegian heritage is the Stoughton Norwegian Dancers dance group, sponsored by Stoughton High School, as well as Norwegian flags and memorabilia displayed throughout the town. Stoughton's sister city is Gjøvik, Norway.


Stoughton was founded in 1847 by Luke Stoughton, an Englishman from Vermont. Many Norwegian immigrants settled in the town from 1865 through the early 1900s. Stoughton also claims to be the birthplace of the "Coffee Break", and hosts a small yearly parade to celebrate the distinction.

For much of the history of the area, Stoughton has been the second-largest and economically important city in Dane County after Madison.

In 1919, Stoughton Wagon Company began putting custom wagon bodies on Model T chassis; by 1929 Ford was by far the biggest seller of station wagons.

On August 18, 2005, an F3 tornado cut a 10-mile path across rural subdivisions and farms north of Stoughton, killing one person and damaging hundreds of homes.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.09 square miles (13.18 km2), of which, 4.92 square miles (12.74 km2) is land and 0.17 square miles (0.44 km2) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 70
1870 985
1880 1,353 37.4%
1890 2,470 82.6%
1900 3,431 38.9%
1910 4,761 38.8%
1920 5,101 7.1%
1930 4,497 −11.8%
1940 4,743 5.5%
1950 4,833 1.9%
1960 5,555 14.9%
1970 6,096 9.7%
1980 7,589 24.5%
1990 8,786 15.8%
2000 12,354 40.6%
2010 12,611 2.1%
2015 (est.) 13,067 3.6%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 12,611 people, 5,133 households, and 3,296 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,563.2 inhabitants per square mile (989.7/km2). There were 5,419 housing units at an average density of 1,101.4 per square mile (425.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.1% White, 1.4% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.3% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.8% of the population.

There were 5,133 households of which 33.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.3% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.8% were non-families. 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.99.

The median age in the city was 39.2 years. 25.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 6.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.6% were from 25 to 44; 26.2% were from 45 to 64; and 14.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.2% male and 52.8% female.


Stoughton is located on U.S. Highway 51, which joins the Interstate system (I-39/90) six miles east of town. A small airport, Matson Field, is located two miles east-southeast of downtown.


The coffee break is said to have originated in Stoughton, when the immigrant men became employed en masse at T. G. Mandt's wagon factory, leaving their wives to fill the shortages at the tobacco warehouses, who agreed to work under the condition that they were allowed to go home every morning and afternoon to tend to chores and, of course, drink coffee. The city of Stoughton celebrates the coffee break every summer with the Stoughton Coffee Break Festival.

The first weekend in December marks Stoughton's Victorian Holiday Weekend, celebrating the city's Victorian homes and commercial buildings. Events include a Victorian Holiday Ball featuring period dances, a production of the Nutcracker Ballet, carriage rides, a silent decorated fire truck parade, a children's parade, and more.

The weekend closest to May 17, Norwegian Constitution Day, marks Stoughton's Syttende Mai festival. The celebration includes parades, an art fair, Norwegian dancer performances, races, and other events.

In the media

In 2004, a Norwegian TV crew traveled to the Midwest to witness the modern manifestations of Norsky culture in the state. During their stay the team visited Stoughton, Mount Horeb, and Decorah, Iowa. The documentary Ja, de elsker (Yes, they love, a reference to the Norwegian national anthem) was aired on NRK1 on May 16, and May 17, 2006.

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