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Welcome to Portage

The Portage Area Chamber of Commerce welcomes you to Historic Portage, a wonderful place to grow your business, raise your family or just visit. Our significant historical heritage, small-town charm and seasonal recreational opportunities provide the perfect setting in which to live, work and play. Portage, with a population just over 10,000 and a regional population exceeding 55,000, serves as the county seat for Columbia County. Along with a wealth of outdoor recreational resources, great neighborhoods, reliable industries, excellent healthcare facilities and educational options, Portage offers a vibrant downtown, lively arts center, and a great history lesson.

Home to two Pulitzer Prize winners, novelist Zona Gale and historian Frederick Jackson Turner, Portage is a wonderful read when it comes to history. The Historic Indian Agency House and Fort Winnebago Surgeons Quarters are living museums contributing to the story of our nation’s development and expansion. Other chapters, more museums and attractions, have since been scribed in Portage: Museum at the Portage; American Legion State Headquarters & Museum; the World War II History Museum; Women’s Civic League; and a refurbished Portage Canal, giving our tourists a vast historical experience worthy of any best-seller list.

For those seeking a sequel to the museum experience, the historic downtown district is a great place to unwind. Sparked by the addition of a new upscale billiards hall/banquet hall and new wine bar, the downtown is experiencing a renaissance as an entertainment hub. Along with a number of specialty shops and cafes, the seven-screen theater and performing arts center will have visitors saying “Bravo.”

Whether you are interested in visiting our community or you are looking to relocate and make Portage your home, we hope you explore and discover all that we have to offer.

Letter from the Mayor

Thank you for spending time with us in Portage. Whether you are just stopping for a short visit or intend to become a new resident, it is always great to have new folks come to our historic city. I often wonder how many people realize they are visiting, or moving to, the third-oldest settlement in Wisconsin when they stop by.

I am sure that every community can hope to claim something that makes them unique, but certainly Portage can do without that reservation. No other city in Wisconsin has two rivers that not only come so close to one another, but run in different directions. The mighty Wisconsin runs southerly and the Fox takes a big turn and starts its upward flow toward the north about a mile from the Wisconsin. And when you are checking out the Fox you need to stop at both the Historic Indian Agency House and the Fort Winnebago Surgeons Quarters. I bet you didn’t realize that Jefferson Davis (yes, that Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy) spent time at Fort Winnebago. The Agency House is one of the few remaining from the over 900 that were once spread around the country.

We offer a multitude of things to do in Portage for every season, from recreation to the fine arts and everything in between. We have beautiful Silver Lake, a spring-fed lake that offers a variety of water sport activities. And if you like to bike, Columbia County’s Silent Sports Trails Committee has released a new map showing 14 different bicycle loops that will take you all around our area. Established in 1850, the Portage Curling Club is the second oldest in the state. Columbia County has five curling clubs; no county in Wisconsin comes even close to that. Also in the winter, we have Cascade Mountain, one of the finest skiing/snowboarding areas in the Midwest.

I invite you to enjoy all our excellent activities and attractions and truly Explore Portage!

Bill Tierney, Mayor

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