Minocqua (Ojibwe: Minwaakwaa) is a town in northwestern Oneida County, Wisconsin, United States. The census-designated place of Minocqua and the unincorporated community of Rantz are both located in the town. Minocqua is commonly referred to as “The Island City.”
The permanent resident population of Minocqua is right around five thousand, but our population grows to many times that size during the summer months. For this reason, Minocqua offers many services and amenities you wouldn’t expect to find in a small town.
For example, the Minocqua Police Department has eleven full-time officers and a 24-hour emergency dispatch center. The Minocqua Fire Department has a brand new $3+ million facility and is one of the largest and best-equipped volunteer fire departments in the state. An impressive addition has recently been added to the Minocqua Public Library. And the Campanile Center for the Arts offers musical performances, theater and instruction year-round.
Most of Minocqua is served by high-speed broadband internet. Additionally, there are wi-fi hotspots thoughout town, including three free wi-fi hotspots downtown sponsored by the Town of Minocqua.
In the western portion of town is the Squirrel Lake area and an area known as “Bo-Di-Lac” (name derived from Booth and Diamond Lakes). These areas include many nice recreational lakes and forest lands, along with the outstanding Minocqua Winter Park recreational facility.
And in the southwest portion of town, you’ll find mile after mile of pure wilderness, timber lands, snowmobile trails, ATV trails, the Cedar Falls Campground and the Willow Flowage Scenic Waters Area.
Minocqua was officially organized in the year 1889. Although there are varying explanations regarding the meaning of the word “Minocqua”, most credit its origin to the Island’s first inhabitants, the Ojibwe. The town Minocqua is named after, “Ninocqua”, the Ojibwe name that is defined as “noon-day-rest”.
In the late 1800s, Minocqua was a logging town. Minocqua Clawson was the first child born in the town. Clawson Hill was a famous landmark in town, and it is now the current location of the Pointe Resort & Hotel at the south end of the Highway 51 bridge.
The construction of railroads was a critical component of Minocqua’s early growth. The Milwaukee Road originally came to the area to provide access to timber. Later, railroads catered to sportsmen and tourists, transforming Minocqua into the vacation getaway it remains to this day. The two railroad trestles that brought trains to the Island are still intact and serve as the trailhead for the Bearskin State Trail that provides hiking and biking in summer, and snowmobiling in winter.
Much of the town’s business district was destroyed by a major fire in 1912. Many of the buildings on the main street today were designed and built after the fire. Although the last several decades have brought a higher percentage of visitor-oriented retail stores, the downtown still retains a U.S. post office, banks, restaurants, and a barbershop. The Island, Minocqua’s city center, contains the Campanile Center for the Arts, the Minocqua Police Department, Minocqua Fire Department, and the Minocqua Community Center, which houses the town offices and public library.
Landmarks on the Island include Torpy Park, the Belle-Isle building, the Minocqua Community Center, Bosacki’s Boathouse (now The Boathouse), T Murtaugh’s Pub, and the Thirsty Whale. Town offices and the Minocqua Public Library are located in the Minocqua Community Center. Bosacki’s Boat House burned to the ground in 1972. Although state regulations prohibited the structure being rebuilt over water, a public outcry convinced the DNR to allow it to be rebuilt where it had originally stood.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 168.1 square miles (435.4 km2), of which, 150.8 square miles (390.6 km2) of it is land and 17.3 square miles (44.8 km2) of it is water. The total area is 10.29% water.
Termed the “Island City,” a portion of the town is situated on what was an actual island, which is accessible by bridge on Highway 51 and “the fill” to the north. Much of Minocqua has sandy soil, although areas of the far northwest and the northeast are clay. The majority of the soil is highly acidic and many areas are covered by forests.
The highest point in Minocqua is Squirrel Hill, located near Winter Park (1735 ft). The highest structure in Minocqua is the Lakeland Sanitary District water tower, a steel tank on Hwy 51 North put in place in the 1960s during the winter.
The community of Bo-di-Lac (short for “Booth-Diamond-Lac du Flambeau) is located in the western portion of the town bordered by Squirrel Lake, Diamond Lake, Booth Lake, and the town of Lac du Flambeau.
The population in Minocqua is 4,453. There are 30 people per square mile aka population density. The median age in Minocqua is 57.1, the US median age is 37.4. The number of people per household in Minocqua is 2.1, the US average of people per household is 2.6.
Family in Minocqua
- 58.6% are married
- 11.1% are divorced
- 16.1% are married with children
- 7.2% have children, but are single
Race in Minocqua
- 93.3% are white
- 0.9% are black
- 1.8% are asian
- 1.6% are native american
- 0.2% claim Other
- 1.7% claim Hispanic Ethnicity
- 0.6% Two or More Races
- 0.0% Hawaiian, Pacific Islander
The Town of Minocqua is served by U.S. Highway (USH) 51, and State Highway (STH) 70.
The Lakeland Airport (KARV) is located 3 miles northwest of the central business district of Minocqua.
The Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport (KRHI) located 25 miles to the southeast serves Minocqua, Oneida county and surrounding communities with both scheduled commercial jet service and general aviation services.
Minocqua public schools include Minocqua-Hazelhurst-Lake Tomahawk Elementary School (MHLT) and Lakeland Union High School (LUHS). MHLT serves students from four towns and LUHS serves students from twelve towns. Trinity Lutheran School offers education for pre-K through 8th grade. Kemp Natural Resource Station is a research and teaching facility situated in Minocqua and operated by the University of Wisconsin.
Nicolet College of Rhinelander has an outreach center in Minocqua called Nicolet College-Lakeland. It brings Nicolet College programming and services to Minocqua area communities.
Minocqua has a public elementary school, Minocqua-Hazelhurst-Lake Tomahawk Elementary School, a private Lutheran elementary/middle school, Trinity Lutheran School, and a high school, Lakeland Union High School.
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise is the quality of health care offered in our community. Cities many times our size do not have the medical facilities you will find here in the Minocqua area. Marshfield Clinic-Minocqua Center was recently expanded to over 100,000 square feet. The facility includes a state-of-the-art ambulatory surgery center and more than 70 physicians providing primary care, surgery and medical specialties.
Just a couple blocks away from Marshfield Clinic-Minocqua Center is Howard Young Medical Center, an acute care 99-bed hospital with ICU and CCU units as well as a renal dialysis unit. The facility is named after its benefactor, Howard Young, an art dealer from New York who had a residence on Lake Minocqua and was the uncle of actress Elizabeth Taylor.
Outdoor Points of Interest
While long noted for our summer recreational opportunities, Minocqua has evolved into an outstanding four-season destination.
In winter, Minocqua is northern Wisconsin’s snowmobiling hub. From our downtown, riders can literally head north, south, east and west into the scenic wilderness trails of the surrounding state, county, national and private forest lands where hundreds of miles of groomed trails await. Minocqua is the birthplace of the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs and is serviced by two of the finest snowmobile clubs in Wisconsin: The Minocqua Forest Riders and the Cross Country Cruisers.
We’re also home to Minocqua Winter Park, the Midwest’s premier cross country ski facility with over 6,500 acres of pristine terrain and 75 kilometers of groomed (traditional and skate) trails. Other opportunities at Winter Park include a new tubing hill (complete with rope tow), pond skating and snowshoeing.
Spring in Minocqua means fishing. In early spring ice fishermen dot the over sixty lakes in town, jigging for late ice panfish. In late spring the opening day of fishing season (usually the first Saturday in May) draws anglers from all over the Midwest.
Summertime offers a little something for everyone. We’re home to the nation’s first, and one of the finest, amateur water ski shows: the Min-Aqua Bats. Our lakes offer opportunities for nearly every type of fishing, boating and skiing. The famous Bearskin State Trail runs right into the heart of town for bikers and hikers. Also located downtown is Torpy Park, with its sand beach, tennis courts and sand volleyball court (and ice skating rink in winter). Minocqua also has three excellent summer camps with rich histories and traditions.
Fall in the Northwoods is a time for festivals, like Minocqua’s own Beef-A-Rama at the end of September. Colorama in late September and early October is when Mother Nature really shines with spectacular displays of color. In November, the opening of deer hunting season is practically an official holiday and an important part of our Northwoods heritage.
Great Lakes or Chains
Minocqua Chain of Lakes
Minocqua, commonly referred to as “The Island City”, is home to the Minocqua Chain. This scenic chain of lakes consists of 7 bodies of water, 4 of which are considered major lakes and 3 smaller lakes that can be accessed by smaller boat or canoe. With a total of nearly 6,000 acres of water it offers fantastic fishing and recreational fun.
700 acre Lake Kawaguesaga sits to the west of Minocqua, and holds the damn that sits at the entrance of the Tomahawk River. With an island to anchor near on a hot sunny day, and enjoy wading on the sand bar, and shoreline to make your own personal beach, Lake Kawagusaga has much to offer.
Lake Minocqua is the center of the chain and can be seen anytime you enter or leave the Island Town of Minocqua, as its shores surround the town. You have 1,360 acres to explore on this lake alone, to explore the historic boathouse or boat to one of the numerous establishments on water to grab a bite to eat.
Mid Lake is a 2221 acre lake tucked away off of the channel that connects Lake Minocqua to Lake Tomahawk. Its waters are a bit more shallow with a maximum depth of 13 feet, so it is not uncommon to see someone trying their luck at catching a Bass, Muskie or Northern in its warmer waters.
Lake Tomahawk is the largest body of water on the chain with 3,462 acres. It is a recreational boaters dream with plenty of space to spend time tubing, waterskiing or playing on your jet ski. Yet you will find plenty of undeveloped shoreline, as a constant reminder that you are in the Northwoods.
Little Tomahawk Lake on the South end of Lake Tomahawk, is a 163 acre lake that boarders Bird Lake Road. There is no public landing on this lake, but it hosts a boat launch for the Camp American Legion.
The last two lakes of the Chain of Lakes are 47 acre Baker Lake and 35 acre Mud Lake. A place to explore by small boat or canoe, you will get incredible scenery and views of abundant wildlife once you get there. Other Lakes in Minocqua includes Squirrel Lake, Amber Lake (formerly Squaw Lake), Buckskin Lake, Booth Lake, Bolger Lake, Blue Lake, Mercer Lake, Bear Lake, Swamsauger Lake, Stone Lake, Clear Lake, Diamond Lake, Franklin Lake, Mercer Lake and Great Bass Lake.
Art Centers, Community Centers, and ETC
Arts activities include the Campanile Center for the Arts which operates year-round, offering an array of high quality artists to captivate, intrigue and inspire audiences. The Campanile also provides music, theater, and visual art instruction.
The Campanile not only offers performances in the auditorium, we also are home to the Lakeland Community Band, Campanile Choir, Island City Dance and have a faculty of 10 offering music and art instruction.
Situated in downtown Minocqua, the Campanile Center for the Arts is centrally located and within walking distance of the shops, restaurants and night spots of the Island City. The Center existed for 40+ years as St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
Minocqua’s downtown is situated on what is known as the “Island”—only a small strip of land keeps it from being an actual island. The Island is surrounded by Lake Minocqua and contains a developed downtown business district and a residential area on the east side of the Island known as “Reuben Town”. The downtown area is where you’ll find the Minocqua Police Department, Minocqua Public Library, Minocqua Town Offices and several Town parks.
Minocqua Center Facilities
A number of the Town of Minocqua facilities are available for use and can be reserved.
Minocqua Center Gymnasium. The Minocqua Center Gymnasium is available to reserve for events and recreational use. Contact the Town Secretary to reserve the facility.
Minocqua Center. The Minocqua Center currently has two rooms available to be reserved for meetings, classes, and events – the Bradley Room and the Torpy Room.
The Town Hall is part of the multipurpose Minocqua Community Center. The Town Hall is available for Town residents and groups to use for meetings or events.
PRE-COVID AVERAGE PRICE AND POST-COVID AVERAGE PRICE
Pre-Covid Ave Price Sold: $296,141.27
Post-Covid Ave Price Sold: $543,996.10