Rhinelander, WI

Rhinelander is a city in, and the county seat of, Oneida County, Wisconsin, United States. 

Rhinelander is the capital of Wisconsin’s North. Located on the shores of the Wisconsin River, it’s the only up north community combining the wild, natural, water-rich environment with an innovative urban-like infrastructure. Rhinelander is the commercial, industrial, retail, medical and recreational hub of Northern Wisconsin. Access over 1,100 lakes, miles of trails and a historic downtown.

In Rhinelander, Wisconsin we pride ourselves on having the perfect blend of unspoiled natural beauty, small town charm and diverse commerce and industry. The countless opportunities have made the Rhinelander area a premier destination to live, seek and explore.

History

The area that eventually became the city of Rhinelander was originally called Pelican Rapids by early settlers, named for the stretch of rapids just above the convergence of the Wisconsin and Pelican Rivers. Around 1870, Anderson W. Brown of Stevens Point and Anson P. Vaughn traveled up the Wisconsin River to cruise timber for Brown’s father, E. D. Brown. Upon arriving at the meeting point of the Wisconsin and Pelican Rivers at the site of John Curran’s trading post, and seeing the high banks along the rapids and the excellent pine stands, Anderson Brown envisioned a mill town with a lumber mill powered by the waters of the Wisconsin River. Brown’s vision did not come to fruition for some years, but after subsequent expeditions with others, including his brother and Rhinelander’s first mayor, Webster Brown, the brothers managed to convince their father and uncle to purchase the land from the federal government and build a town. In its charter, the city was named Rhinelander after Frederic W. Rhinelander of New York, who was president of the Milwaukee, Lake Shore and Western Railroad at the time. This was part of a bid by the Brown brothers to induce the railroad to extend a spur to the location to further their lumbering business. Ultimately, after over 10 years of negotiations, the Brown family agreed to convey half their land holdings in the area to the railroad in exchange for a rail line to their future city. In 1882, the railroad line from present-day Monico to Rhinelander was completed, jump starting the development of Rhinelander as the commercial hub of the region.

Geography

Rhinelander is located at 45°38′22″N 89°24′44″W (45.639515, −89.412086).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.61 square miles (22.30 km2), of which, 8.34 square miles (21.60 km2) are land and 0.27 sq mi (0.70 km2) is covered by water.

Population

As of the census of 2020, the population was 8,285. The population density was 983.6 inhabitants per square mile (379.8/ km2). There were 4,123 housing units at an average density of 489.5 per square mile (189.0/ km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.8% White, 1.6% Native American, 1.2% Black or African American, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.8% from other races, and 4.7% from two or more races. Ethnically, the population was 2.5% Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Transportation

Major highways

  • BUS US 8 serves the city of Rhinelander.
  • U.S. 8 runs eastbound to Crandon, Wisconsin. Westbound, US 8 routes to Prentice, Wisconsin.
  • WIS 17 travels north to Eagle River, Wisconsin and south to Merrill, Wisconsin. This route is on the eastern side of Rhinelander.
  • WIS 47 runs north to Woodruff, Wisconsin and runs south to Antigo, Wisconsin. 

Road Travel

The distance to Chicago is approximately 330 miles; to Minneapolis, 240 miles; to Madison, 200 miles; and to Milwaukee, approximately 240 miles. U.S. Highway 51 is a primary north-south artery, linking Oneida County to Interstates 90 and 94 in south-central Wisconsin. 

U.S. Highway 8 is the major east-west corridor through the county, providing access to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Minneapolis/St. Paul. U.S. Highway 45, traversing the eastern edge of the county, is a second north-south route between Wisconsin’s Fox River Valley and the Upper Peninsula. State highway 47 provides additional access routes. Oneida County maintains 165 miles of trunk roads.

Air Travel

The Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport is the largest airport serving Oneida County and the surrounding counties, plus a sizeable portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. SkyWest Airlines dba Delta Connection provides daily schedules to link you to anywhere in the world.

Rhinelander Flying Service, Inc. is a full service fixed base operator providing air charter, air ambulance, fuel, aircraft repair, flying lessons, aircraft rental, and scenic airplane rides.

Schools

Residents of the Rhinelander Area enjoy quality schools and educational resources. Great schools and the strong community commitment to education are reasons why people move to Rhinelander and businesses relocate to the area. From the Rhinelander public schools to Nicolet College, you’ll find quality educational opportunities in the Rhinelander Area.

The School District of Rhinelander serves nine townships and the city of Rhinelander. The district also offers a variety of parochial schools, including Nativity of Our Lord Catholic School and Zion Lutheran School, which are both preschool through grade 8 school within the district.

Nicolet College is a two-year community college located on the scenic shores of Lake Julia. The college offers more than 50 degrees, diplomas and certificates, including a University Transfer Liberal Arts program, where students complete the first two years of a bachelor’s degree before transferring to a four-year college or university. Nicolet also offers Creative Arts Services, Business and Community Education, Learning in Retirement and the Outdoor Adventure Series.

The Rhinelander District Library is a member of the Wisconsin Valley Library Service regional library system with inter-library loan access to materials throughout Wisconsin and beyond.  RDL offers a variety of programming throughout the year from story times for ages 0 up to book clubs for youth and adults, regular author events, crafting and senior/outreach/Books on the Go!  The library has an active Friends and Foundation.  The library provides e-book and magazine access through Libby, databases through Badgerlink and continuing education through Gale Courses.  RDL has books, films, technology, games, puzzles, and craft materials available to lend.

Healthcare

Medical personnel in the Northwoods truly have the best of both worlds. The healthcare system in Wisconsin is nationally renowned. Rhinelander Aspirus Hospital, a general medical and surgical hospital, provides professional health care to residents throughout the Northwoods region. 

Both Aspirus and Marshfield Clinic have clinic locations in Rhinelander. Specialists in oncology, cardiology and other areas serve the needs of the region. 

In addition, we have a number of local assisted living facilities, dental, hearing and optical services, and wellness providers.

Outdoor Points of Interest

The Rhinelander area has numerous vacation destinations, offering fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, ATVing, mountain biking and hiking, hunting, golfing, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and bird watching. It also serves as a main shopping and lodging area for the Northwoods. A popular summer tourist destination is the Pioneer Park Historical Complex, which is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend and features many interactive displays and spaces to explore Rhinelander’s rich history, including the infamous hodag.

Rhinelander is the home of the hodag, a folkloric green and white creature said to stalk the local woods. The hodag serves as mascot for the city and for Rhinelander High School and Northwoods Community Secondary School.

  • The Rhinelander Flea Market is held every Wednesday between Labor Day and Memorial Day by the ice arena.
  • An arts and cultural center is in the former Federal Building downtown.
  • Rhinelander is home to the Hodag Country Festival, a country music festival.
  • Northwoods Pride Festival
  • Oneida County Fair
  • Oktoberfest

 

Parks

  • Pioneer Park
  • Hodag Park
  • Shepard Park
  • West Side Park

 

Golf

  • Northwood Golf Course
  • Rhinelander Country Club

 

Both the Wisconsin and Pelican Rivers run through Rhinelander. Boom Lake waterfront is partially located within the City which contributes to a lovely park, shoreline, swimming beach, boat launch, and baseball diamonds. A second boat launch is located within the City at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Pelican Rivers. Rhinelander is home to Northwood Golf Course, an 18-hole public course with clubhouse and Whipsaw restaurant located just at the edge of the City on Highway 8 West. Right in the heart of Rhinelander is the Pioneer Park Historical Complex which boasts a historic railroad with an engine and several train cars, as well as the logging/cookhouse shanty, replica CCC camp building, schoolhouse, sawmill, and fire barn.

Mountain bikers and road cyclists alike will enjoy bicycling in and around the Rhinelander Area. The quiet roadways that stretch out from Rhinelander are great for touring cyclists looking to enjoy the beauty of the Northwoods.

Hodag Country offers outstanding winter trails. Cross-country ski and snowshoe through snow-covered pines or glide along tamarack bogs and groves of hemlocks. Choose from several trails located just minutes from downtown Rhinelander. Excellent trail grooming combined with the area’s lodging, restaurants and numerous amenities make Hodag Country the ideal snowmobiling destination.

While you’re in town, visit Rhinelander’s historic downtown which offers unique shopping and dining experiences.  There are many events and festivals throughout the year which draw visitors and highlight the warm and friendly people who make Rhinelander their home. Come for a visit – you just might want to stay!

Great Lakes or Chains

Rhinelander Area lakes offer some of Wisconsin’s best fishing. The community is known as the “Ice Fishing Capital of the World.” Year-round, the fishing in the Rhinelander Area is spectacular. You’ll find lakes right in the heart of Rhinelander, such as Boom Lake, a large flowage on the Wisconsin River. There are hundreds more lakes within a short drive, including the popular Lake George, Lake Thompson, Lake Julia and the Moen Lake Chain.

Rhinelander Chain of Lakes

The Rhinelander Chain of Lakes go right through the town of Rhinelander.  This chain of lakes is a popular tourist area and many boaters will enjoy these waters from spring through fall.  The fishing is good on the chain for a variety of fish.  Anglers target walleye, pike, muskie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and a variety of panfish.

Crescent Lake. Crescent Lake is a 616 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 32 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye. The lake’s water is moderately clear.

Emma Lake. Emma Lake is a 227 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 17 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass and Walleye.

Fifth Lake. Fifth Lake is a 238 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 9 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye. The lake’s water is moderately clear.

Fourth Lake. Fourth Lake is a 253 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 14 feet. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye.

George Lake. George Lake is a 443 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 26 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye. The lake’s water clarity is low.

Hancock Lake. Hancock Lake is a 259 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 22 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye. The lake’s water clarity is low.

Lake Thompson. Lake Thompson is a 401 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 30 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye. The lake’s water clarity is low.

Lake Julia. Lake Julia is a 241 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 19 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye. The lake’s water is moderately clear.

Manson Lake. Manson Lake is a 236 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 54 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye. The lake’s water is moderately clear.

Mildred Lake. Mildred Lake is a 168 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 45 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass and Walleye. The lake’s water clarity is very clear.

Moen Lake. Moen Lake is a 461 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 11 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye. The lake’s water clarity is low.

Oneida Lake. Oneida Lake is a 255 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 34 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye.

Pine Lake. Pine Lake is a 242 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 32 feet. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye.

Shepard Lake. Shepard Lake is a 179 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 18 feet. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Northern Pike and Walleye. The lake’s water clarity is low.

Squash Lake. Squash Lake is a 398 acre lake located in Oneida County. It has a maximum depth of 74 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Trout and Walleye. The lake’s water clarity is very clear.

Art Centers, Community Centers, and ETC

Museums

  • ArtStart Art Museum – As a highly distinctive cultural center, ArtStart provides a variety of exhibitions, programming and event activities which leverage art to engage community members in cultural, social, and economic development.
  • CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Museum
  • Logging Museum
  • Rhinelander Historical Society Museum
  • Rhinelander School Museum

Visitor Center

Located within the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce at 450 West Kemp Street Rhinelander, WI 54501

The Rhinelander Visitor Center is coordinated by and housed within the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce. It is located at 450 West Kemp Street, with parking lot access off of Sutliff Avenue.

Our staff at the Visitor Center is happy to help be your guide during your time in Rhinelander. Need help finding one of our historic buildings or to learn more about a Rhinelander Area lodger, store, restaurant, or business? Please stop by the Visitor Center and we are glad to help!

Average Home Price Sold

2018 Ave Price Sold: $96,280.93

2021 Ave Price Sold: $132,336.12

2023 Ave Price Sold: $151,713.92

To find out more about Onedia county and all the wonderful things that the Northwoods has to offer click here.