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Onalaska Historical Society
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Onalaska Historical Society

741 Oak Avenue South
WI, 54650
In 1851, Thomas G. Rowe of New York arrived at this wild and beautiful place along the banks of the Mississippi River and named it Onalaska, after a line from a poem by Thomas Campbell entitled, “The Pleasures of Hope.” In later years, William Carlisle lived in Onalaska and loved it so much that he founded Onalaska, Washington and Onalaska, Texas.

In Onalaska’s earliest years, the community was a booming lumber town, with white pine logs from the Northwoods of Wisconsin and Minnesota being milled here in the town’s many lumber mills. Before the lumbering days, the area was inhabited by Native American tribes that prized the area’s natural resources and fertile soil.

The Onalaska Historical Museum located in the Onalaska Public Library has exhibits that focus on the area’s history, from the Ice Age to modern times. There are exhibits that cover the archeological finds from the area that point to Onalaska’s earliest inhabitants.Museum

Artifacts include ancient bones, tools, weapons and pottery. Other exhibits focus on Onalaska’s rich lumbering past, the area’s early settlers and railroad history.
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