77 Wisconsin Facts and Weird Laws

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What is it like visiting Wisconsin? 

You may know Wisconsin as one of the leading producers of dairy products. While that is true, Wisconsin boasts more than the dairy farms!

Located in the Western United States in a region known as the Upper Midwest, Wisconsin offers a diverse landscape interlaced with hills and hiking trails.

Even though the state’s famous attractions are in Wisconsin’s two large cities, Madison and Milwaukee, Spring Green and other small towns are worth exploring.

Wisconsin is so rich in culture that it hosts the largest festival in the country –the Summerfest Music Festival in Milwaukee. 

It’s not only about the rich culture; most of your favorite celebrities were born in this state, too, from Oprah Winfrey, Harrison Ford to the former California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Let’s unbox some Wisconsin facts with fun details about the Dairy State.

Best Fun Facts About Wisconsin 

  1. The capital city of Wisconsin is Madison and the most populous city is Milwaukee.
  2. Wisconsin got its name from the Wisconsin River. It’s the river that was named “Meskousing”.
  3. The first explorers to document their exploration of the Wisconsin River were French Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet. 
  4. The Milwaukee Mile is the oldest operating motor speedway. 
  5. Margarine was illegal in Wisconsin until 2011.
  6. Les Paul, Wisconsinite, is famous for his multitrack recording and other inventions in the music world.
  7. Wisconsin was nicknamed the Badger State, not after the animal but after the miners who slept in mines.
  8. The oldest city in Wisconsin is not Madison or Milwaukee, it is Green Bay.
  9. Wisconsin is known for cheese, but they have some cheesy laws, too. Like you can’t serve apple pie without cheese.

Wisconsin Facts—Politics And Government

  1. Wisconsin politics is a fascinating mosaic. It is a purple state–the urban areas tend to be liberal while the rural areas remain conservative.
  2. Republican Party strength matched Democratic Party strength between 1900-2000. After 2000, the Republican Party lost ground to Democrats.
  3. Wisconsin has ten electoral votes in the electoral college. 
  4. This state has an annual publication, the Wisconsin Blue Book. This book has information about the state’s government, economy, history, geography, and demographics.
  5. Wisconsin is the 25th easiest state to vote in (A 2020 study).
Wisconsin Capitol Building in Madison. Credits: Unsplash@Conor Betts
  1. The executive branch of the Wisconsin state government consists of six elected executive officials, namely the governor, lieutenant governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, and the Superintendent of Public Intrusion. 
  2. The current Wisconsin governor is Tony Evers of the Democratic Party. 
  3. Only the Superintendent of Public Instruction is a non-partisan position. The rest of the officials are Democrats, including the governor. 
  4. This state has a four-level court system with the municipal court, circuit court, Court of Appeal, and the highest appellate court in the state, the Supreme Court.
  5. Wisconsin has eight congressional districts.

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Wisconsin Facts – History

  1. The first settlers are thought to have arrived during the Wisconsin Glaciation. 
  2. The inhabitants, who were Paleo-Indians, hunted the ice age animals, including Boaz Mastodon. 
  3. In the late woodland period, the Effigy Mound cultures inhabited this state.
  4. The French explorer, Jean Nicolet, is the first European to visit this region.
  5. However, Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette are the first Europeans to journey on the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway. They travelled up to the Mississippi River.
  6. Even though French colonization of present-day Wisconsin wasn’t smooth, they finally claimed the region in 1672.
  7. Great Britain took control of this region after the French and Indian Wars of 1763.
  8. The Great Britain-controlled region opened doors for settlers, including the French Canadians, African Americans, and the Anglo-New Englanders.
  9. Green Bay got its name from the waters and shore, which showed green tints during early spring. Today, it’s known as the toilet paper capital of the world.
  10. Wisconsin territory came under the United States’ control following the American Revolutionary War of 1983.
  11. With the changing territorial boundaries between 1800 to 1836, Wisconsin found itself in Indiana territory, Illinois territory, and Michigan territory.
  12. Wisconsin was named the Badger State –this name originated from the miners who lived in holes.
  13. The Native American tribes were forced out of the state to give room for the whites.
  14. In 1836, an act of the United States Congress created Wisconsin territory.
  15. Wisconsin became the 30th state to join the Union in 1848.
  16. The state’s first governor, Nelson Dewey, supervised the state’s transition from a territory to a state.
  17. Over 90 000 Wisconsin soldiers fought for the Union during the Civil War.
  18. The name Wisconsin originated from Miami Indians. It means a river running through a red place.
  19. Two Rivers in Wisconsin is home to the first Ice Cream Sundae.

Wisconsin Facts – Geography

  1. Wisconsin is the 26th largest state in the United States of America, with 65,498.37 square miles.
  2. Also known as the Badger State, Wisconsin is a state located in the upper Midwestern region of the US.
  3. The Badge State borders Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Lake Superior, and Lake Michigan.
  4. This state is divided into five distinct geographical regions: Western Uplands, Central Plains, Lake Superior lowlands,  and Eastern Ridges and Lowlands.
  5.  The state comprises hills, rivers, woodlands, lakes, and beaches.
Wisconsin Dells. Credits: Unsplash@Dave
  1. In the Central Plains, Timms Hill is the state’s highest point at 1951 feet above sea level.
  2. The lowest point is in Lake Michigan, at 581 feet above sea level.
  3. Antigo Silt Loam soil is a rare type of soil found in Langlade County, Wisconsin.
  4.  The warm, humid Continental Climate and the hot-humid Continental Climate make up the state’s climate. 
Credits: Memedroid
  1.  Wisconsin Dells is where the highest temperature (46°C or 114°F) in the state was recorded on July 13, 1936. The village of Couderay recorded the lowest temperature of -48°C in 1996. 
  2. The Lake Superior Snowbelt region averages 160 inches of snowfall every year.
  3. Wisconsin has over 12,600 rivers and streams.
Wisconsin River. Credits: Unsplash
  1. Wisconsin has over 15,000 lakes.
  2. Lake Winnebago is Wisconsin’s largest inland lake.

Wisconsin Facts – Plants And Animals

  1.  Wisconsin is home to nearly 1,800 species of natural plants and about 700 species of vertebrates. 
  2.  The Badger State has two national parks and forests, including Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway. Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest makes up the national forest area in the state.
  3. Sugar Maple is the official state tree of Wisconsin.
  4. The official state flower is the Common Blue Violet.
  5. The American Black Currant, Balsam Fir, Arrowhead, Black Spruce, Big Bluestem, Black Willow, and the Blazing Star are native to Wisconsin. 
  6. The rare animals found in this state include the white-tailed jackrabbit, spotted skunk, four-toed salamander, Northern Goshawk, and the American Wigeon.
  7. Wisconsin is home to the red fox, white-tailed deer, black bear, robins, moose, wolves, and badgers.
  8. American Badger is Wisconsin’s official state animal. 
  9. Wisconsin is home to river otters, red-backed salamanders, mink frogs, snapping turtles, American bullfrogs, American bitterns, and the five-lined skinks.
  10. The dangerous animals in this state include white-tailed deer (which has caused over 18,000 accidents), disease-causing deer tick, Black Bears, Timber rattlesnake, and the Eastern massasauga.
  11. Karner Blue Butterfly, Whooping Crane, Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, Eastern Massasauga, and the Sheepnose are endangered animals in this state.
  12. A moose is the largest animal in Wisconsin. It can grow up to 6.5 feet and weigh a whopping 1,800 pounds.

Wisconsin Facts – Demographics

  1. Wisconsin is the 20th most populous state in the country, with 5,893,718.
  2.  The latest study (2021) shows almost 40 people per square mile, making this state the 23rd densely populated in the United States. 
  3.  Wisconsin’s capital city is Madison city, which is also the largest city in the state by area–263 km².
  4. Milwaukee is the most populous city in Wisconsin, with over 550,000 people.
Milwaukee. Credits: Unsplash
  1. On the banks of the Fox River, Green Bay is the oldest city in Wisconsin. 
  2.  Like in most States, the whites are the dominant race in Wisconsin.
  3. Wisconsin State has one of the highest populations of residents with Polish ancestry.
  4. Hmong makes up over 30 per cent of the Asian Population in this state.
  5. The five largest ancestry groups include the Irish, Polish, Germans, Norwegians, and English.
  6. Christianity is the most populous region in this state. Protestants lead Catholics in numbers. 
  7. A person living in Wisconsin is called a Wisconsinite. 

Wisconsin Facts – Economy

Madison, Wisconsin. Credits: Unsplash
  1. The three primary economic enterprises in Wisconsin include manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism.
  2. Livestock and livestock products are the main contributors to agricultural income.
  3. Commercial fishing in the Great Lakes and Lake Michigan is a source of income for the citizenry. The state prohibits fishing for yellow perch in Lake Michigan. Whitefish, trout, and bass are fish found in Wisconsin. 
  4. The mineral resources (no metallic) include limestone, sand, cement, and gravel.
  5. Zinc and lead are also available in the Badger State.
  6. This state has three nuclear facilities which produce most of the electricity in the form.
  7. Kohl’s, Northwestern Mutual, and ManpowerGroup are Wisconsin-based companies.
  8. Summerfest is the nation’s largest music festival.
  9.  There are more than 600 types of Cheese made in Wisconsin. This state is sometimes known as the cheese capital of the world.
  10. Wisconsin is the second-largest producer of dairy products in the country. 
  11. Oshkosh is home to the largest experimental aviation event.

Famous Locations in Wisconsin

Credits: Pinterest
  1. On Lake Winnebago in Milwaukee, Oshkosh town is popular for the kid’s clothing line and EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, which is the largest meeting of aviators. Every summer, aviators meet in Oshkosh.
  2. Taliesin: Perfect Country Home of Frank Lloyd Wright. This beautiful home lies on 600 acres of countryside. It features exquisite designs. 
  3. The Wisconsin State Capitol in  Madison is only three feet shorter than Washington’s capital. It’s an amazing place to visit.
  4. Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee, is the perfect place to learn more about the iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycle and over 450 other classic motorcycles. 
  5. Circus World Museum in Baraboo is a kid’s place where you can learn more about circus history.
  6. The Dells of the Wisconsin River is a stunning five-mile gorge on the Wisconsin River.
  7. The Great Outdoors in Door County is a fun place to visit. It has friendly hotels and campsites.
  8. Exploring the Land O’ Lakes is one of the best places you can explore with a Kayak or a canoe.
  9. Copper Falls State Park is a natural wonder located in Mellen, Wisconsin.
  10. Milwaukee Public Museum. 

Famous People From Wisconsin

  • Oprah Winfrey, raised in Milwaukee, is a celebrated talk show host, actress, and philanthropist. 
  • Rachel Brosnahan, born in Milwaukee, is an actress. 
  • John Ridley, a native of Mequon, is an award-winning screenplay writer. He received the best screenplay award for “12 Years A Slave.”
  • Harrison Ford is famous for his roles as Han Solo Indiana Jones in Star Wars.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, famous as the terminator, went to school in Wisconsin. He is the former California governor.
  • Chris Noth, born in Madison, is famous as Mike Logan for his role in Law and Order.

Common Misconceptions About Wisconsin

Credits: Quick Memes

There are misleading beliefs that non-native Wisconsinites have about this state. Let’s debunk a few. 

Only the Packers have a fanbase

Have you heard of Eau Claire Express or Madison Mallards? It’s okay if you haven’t. 

Wisconsin is boring

Is water sports boring? What about sightseeing tours or bird watching? Wisconsin is dotted with natural wonders.

Wisconsinites can’t make fun of themselves

Apart from making fun of Chicago, Wisconsinites make fun of themselves, too. Have you watched Charlie Beren’a videos? 

Wisconsinites hate Illinoisans

Credits: Twitter

The deep rivalry between the people of Illinois and Wisconsin is as old as the one between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears in the NFL. While it may seem genuine, it’s a story of love and hate.

Weird Laws in Wisconsin 

Many of the laws below were passed a long time ago, but they still exist in many Wisconsin cities, but many of them go unenforced. It is easier to pass laws than to revoke them, so some very strange laws remain on the books. Read the Craziest Laws in the United States, if you want more.

Here are some of our favorites.

  1. It’s illegal to camp on a wagon on a public highway.
  2. It’s illegal to sit in someone else’s parked car without verbal consent in Hudson, Wisconsin.
  3. You shouldn’t park your car on Milwaukee streets for more than two hours unless a horse is tied to it.
  4. It’s illegal for restaurants to serve apple pie without Cheese.
  5. It’s illegal to use Margarine in place of butter in restaurants unless the customer requested it.
  6. In Wisconsin, you can marry your house.
  7. In Wisconsin, it is illegal to cut a woman’s hair or kiss her on a train.
  8. It is illegal to wake a sleeping fireman.
  9. Women are not allowed to wear anything red in public on St. Croix.
Women are not allowed to wear anything red in public on St. Croix. Image: Pinterest

Final Thoughts

Wisconsin has extensive dairy farms, vibrant nightlife, diverse wildlife, and many tourist hotspots that promise you a unique adventure.

Our article covers the history, culture, geography, geology, climate and debunks most of the most common misconceptions about Wisconsin. 

Wisconsin Facts And Stats

Population2020 (5,893,718)
GovernorTony Evers Democratic Party)
Date Of AdmissionMay 29, 1848
U.S. SenatorsTammy Baldwin (D)
Ron Johnson (R)
US House of Representatives8 (of 435 Seats) 
State NicknameAmerica’s DairylandBadger State 
State Motto“Forward”
State Song“On, Wisconsin!”
State FlowerWood Violet
State FishMuskellunge
State BirdAmerican Robin
State TreeSugar Marple
State MammalBadger
State ReptileBlanding’s Turtle
State MineralGalena
State GemRed Granite
State FossilTrilobite
Neighbor StatesMichigan Minnesota Iowa Illinois 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the five interesting things about Wisconsin? 

  • The Upper Fox River is one of the few rivers that flows north of Wisconsin.
  • Almost all natural lakes in Wisconsin were formed from glaciers.
  • According to ghost stories, Wisconsin has the highest number of ghosts.
  •  Delavan, Wisconsin, is home to the first-ever US circus.
  • Door County has the most extensive shoreline of any county in the United States –more than 250 miles.

What are the four things Wisconsin is known for?

  • Wisconsin is famous for what it produces, including dairy, beer, and lumber.
  • Sporting activities such as snowmobiling, hunting, and fishing.
  • The Native American culture.
  • Wisconsin is the birthplace of Ice Cream Sundae.

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[1] https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Article/CS2906

[2] https://ballotpedia.org/Wisconsin

[3] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin

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Sabrina is a former campaign manager who has decided to focus her effort to help people contact senators and get help. She leads our Editorial Team with Ronald and Lawrence to curate content and resources that help us navigate the system.

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