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Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
Location of Wisconsin Rapids in Wood County, Wisconsin.
Location of Wisconsin Rapids in Wood County, Wisconsin.
Country United States
State Wisconsin
County Wood
Area
 • City 14.77 sq mi (38.25 km2)
 • Land 13.86 sq mi (35.88 km2)
 • Water 0.91 sq mi (2.37 km2)
Elevation
1,027 ft (313 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • City 18,367
 • Estimate 
(2019)
17,610
 • Density 1,271.02/sq mi (490.74/km2)
 • Metro
54,362
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
54494-54495
Area code(s) 715 & 534
FIPS code 55-88200
GNIS feature ID 1576906
Website http://www.wirapids.org
WisconsinRapidsWisconsinDowntownWIS13WIS54
Looking south at WIS 13 in Wisconsin Rapids
WisconsinRiverWisconsinRapidsWIS54WIS13
WIS 13 / WIS 54 bridge over the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin Rapids
WisconsinRapidsWisconsinWaterTower
Water tower

Wisconsin Rapids is a city in and the county seat of Wood County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 18,367 at the 2010 census.

According to the 2010 census, the Wisconsin Rapids micropolitan area was home to 54,362 people. The city also forms one of the core areas of the United States Census Bureau's Marshfield-Wisconsin Rapids Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Wood County (2000 population: 75,555).

Geography

Wisconsin Rapids is located at 44°23′12″N 89°49′23″W / 44.38667°N 89.82306°W / 44.38667; -89.82306 (44.386805, -89.823078).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.67 square miles (38.00 km2), of which 13.82 square miles (35.79 km2) is land and 0.85 square miles (2.20 km2) is water.

History

The American Indians called the area "Ahdawagam", meaning "Two-sided Rapids". Although Europeans began to settle this area in the 1830s, Wisconsin Rapids has been known by this name only since 1920. Prior to that, the community was divided by the Wisconsin River, with the west side incorporated as Centralia and the east side as Grand Rapids. The two cities merged in 1900, with the entire community taking the name Grand Rapids. The name was changed in 1920 to avoid mail and other goods from being misdirected to the much better known Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 1,115
1880 1,350 21.1%
1890 1,702 26.1%
1900 4,493 164.0%
1910 6,521 45.1%
1920 7,243 11.1%
1930 8,726 20.5%
1940 11,416 30.8%
1950 13,496 18.2%
1960 15,042 11.5%
1970 18,587 23.6%
1980 17,995 −3.2%
1990 18,245 1.4%
2000 18,435 1.0%
2010 18,367 −0.4%
2019 (est.) 17,610 −4.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 18,367 people, 8,296 households, and 4,626 families living in the city. The population density was 1,329.0 inhabitants per square mile (513.1/km2). There were 8,972 housing units at an average density of 649.2 per square mile (250.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.2% White, 0.7% African American, 1.0% Native American, 3.7% Asian, 0.9% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.9% of the population.

There were 8,296 households, of which 27.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.1% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 44.2% were non-families. 38.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.87.

The median age in the city was 41.1 years. 22.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.3% were from 25 to 44; 25.5% were from 45 to 64; and 19.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.8% male and 52.2% female.

Airport

  • KISW - South Wood County Airport

Recreation

Wisconsin Rapids has several local parks, including Robinson Park, Gaynor Park, and Lyon Park. There is also a recently built skate park. The state water-skiing championships are held at Lake Wazeecha every year and the national BMX Bandit cycling championships are held at the Central Wisconsin BMX velodrome.

There are three museums, the South Wood County Historical Corporation Museum, the Alexander House, and the Wisconsin River Paper Making Museum, all of which are housed in historical family homes.

The Alexander House is a museum to the history of the Nekoosa Edwards Paper Company (NEPCO), and also hosts art exhibits. The building is the former home of the Alexander Family, which ran the Nekoosa Edwards Paper Company.

The South Wood County Historical Corporation Museum houses multiple exhibits covering the history of the South Wood County area. The building is the former Witter family home. The Witter family was a prominent family in Wisconsin Rapids, instrumental to the formation of the Consolidated Water Power and Paper Company, and involved in the founding of many other local historical businesses.

The Wisconsin River Papermaking Museum houses exhibits focused on papermaking, featuring permanent and traveling exhibits on papermaking. The museum houses the history of Consolidated Papers, with permanent exhibits on the history of the company's formation, the history of the home, built by Thomas E Nash in 1901, and home to the Stanton Mead family for 60 years. The Mead family ran Consolidated Water Power Company for almost the entirety of its 100+ year history.

There is a municipal zoo (free to enter).

There is a prairie chicken sanctuary at the Buena Vista Wildlife Reservation, and every year the Prairie Chicken Festival is held. The Souper Snow Sculpture Spectacular that takes place every February is one of the largest snow sculpture competitions in the country by numbers of sculptures, with approximately 20 blocks sculpted each year. The Grand Affair Arts Festival takes place in September of each year. In summer of 2010, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters of the collegiate summer Northwoods League, played their first season at Witter Field.

Economy

Known for its papermaking history, Wisconsin Rapids is also an important locale for the cranberry industry. Wisconsin Rapids is the corporate home of the international educational software company, Renaissance Learning, Inc. as well as other national and global companies.

From its founding in 1894, Wisconsin Rapids was home to the corporate headquarters of Consolidated Papers, Inc, which was acquired by the Finnish company Stora Enso in early 2000. In 2007, NewPage Corporation acquired the paper production facility. In 2015, Verso Corporation acquired the mill. Verso continues its presence in the area with a paper mill that houses two paper machines and a kraft pulp mill. In June 2020, Verso announced the closing of their paper mill for at least two months, with the resulting loss of 900 jobs.

Education

Wisconsin Rapids is served by Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools. Lincoln High School is the local public high school, serving grades 9 through 12. Assumption High School is a private Catholic high school. River Cities High School is an alternative to the local high schools. The city has two middle schools, Wisconsin Rapids Area Middle School (grades 6–8) and Central Oaks (Virtual) Academy (6-8). East Junior High was a junior high school for grades 8-9 before it closed after the 2017–2018 school year.

Good Shepherd Lutheran School (1-8th grade) and St. Paul's Lutheran School (3K-8th grade) are two grade schools of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod in Wisconsin Rapids.

Mid-State Technical College, which has a campus in the city, offers vocational diplomas, and Lakeland University offers qualifications in academic subjects.

McMillan Memorial Library serves Wisconsin Rapids and southern Wood County. McMillan was a Finalist for the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

Transportation

South Wood County Airport (IATA: ISW, ICAO: KISW, FAA LID: ISW), also known as Alexander Field, is a public use airport located one nautical mile (1.85 km) south of the central business district of Wisconsin Rapids.

Notable people

  • Mark E. Anderson, U.S. National Guard general
  • Bonnie Bartlett, actress
  • Vince Biegel, NFL linebacker for the Miami Dolphins
  • Bruno Block, MLB catcher
  • Theodore W. Brazeau, Wisconsin legislator
  • Arthur J. Crowns, Wisconsin legislator
  • James Daly, actor
  • Paul Dauenhauer, Engineer & inventor
  • George R. Gardner, Wisconsin legislator
  • Orestes Garrison, Wisconsin legislator
  • John A. Gaynor, Wisconsin legislator
  • Harvey F. Gee, Wisconsin legislator
  • Bill Granger, journalist and novelist
  • George Hambrecht, Wisconsin legislator
  • Jidenna, hip-hop musician
  • Stephen E. Johnson, U.S. Navy admiral
  • William Merriam, Wisconsin legislator
  • Tom Metcalf, MLB pitcher
  • Edith Nash, educator and poet
  • Philleo Nash, professor and anthropologist
  • Grim Natwick, animator and film director
  • George Allen Neeves, Wisconsin legislator
  • Casey Nelson, NHL player
  • John Offerdahl, NFL player
  • Peter Pernin, Catholic pastor and Peshtigo fire memoirist
  • John M. Potter, Wisconsin legislator
  • Bryan Reffner, NASCAR driver
  • Don Rehfeldt, All-American college and NBA basketball player
  • Donald E. Reiland, Wisconsin legislator
  • Scott Scharff, NFL player
  • Thomas B. Scott, Wisconsin legislator
  • Arthur H. Treutel, Wisconsin legislator
  • Dick Trickle, NASCAR driver
  • Robert Uehling, Wisconsin legislator
  • Byrde M. Vaughan, Wisconsin legislator
  • Charles M. Webb, Wisconsin legislator
  • William E. Wheelan, Wisconsin legislator
  • Herman C. Wipperman, Wisconsin legislator
  • Isaac P. Witter, Wisconsin legislator
  • Joseph Wood, merchant, and Wisconsin legislator
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