Winchester, WI

Winchester is located in the northwest corner of Vilas County, bounded by Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the north, Iron County to the west, the town of Presque Isle to the east and the town of Manitowish Waters to the south.


In 1893, George Buck and son, Fayette came to the narrows between North and South Turtle Lakes and started the Divide Resort. The Divide Resort included a main dining hall, general office and store building, and 15 residential cottages. Amenities included sailing, canoeing, yachting, bowling, tennis, and billiards. Guests also had fishing access to outlying lakes including No Man’s Lake, George Lake, Rock Lake, Birch Lake, and Harris Lake. A rustic bridge over the divide allowed guests to access a dance pavilion on South Turtle Lake. 

In 1899, George married Anna Seymour. Shortly thereafter a school was established in one of the cottages and a post office was added, with a postal address of Divide, Wisconsin. In 1917, George left Anna, his four children, and the Divide Resort. Anna Buck successfully raised her four children and ran the resort until 1940 when it was sold. 

During this time the Turtle Lake Lumber Company was formed in 1902. Walter Winchester was the president of the company and since that time, the Town has held the same name. In 1906 logging began and a saw mill was built. This mill later became a shingle mill and the main mill was built on the northwest shore of South Turtle Lake near the river. A small community developed here including 55 homes, a community building, a town hall, and a two-room school. The two-room school was constructed in 1910 and is now the Winchester Community Building and Public Library. Winchester remained an active logging community until 1926.


Winchester covers over 34,000 acres and is covered by lakes, with 34 named and 29 unnamed. Almost 80% of the town’s area is wooded, and we have more than 6,000 acres of public land as part of the Northern-Highland American Legion State Forest.

The town of Winchester is located in the northwest corner of Vilas County, Wisconsin. The area serves as the headwaters for the Turtle River, which is part of the Flambeau River system. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 53.6 square miles (138.8 km2), of which, 48.1 square miles (124.7 km2) of it is land and 5.5 square miles (14.2 km2) of it (10.21%) is water.


The population in Winchester is 528. There are 9 people per square mile aka population density. The median age in Winchester is 62.5, the US median age is 37.4. The number of people per household in Winchester is 1.9, the US average of people per household is 2.6.


Family in Winchester 

  • 70.1% are married
  • 12.2% are divorced
  • 9.2% are married with children
  • 6.9% have children, but are single

Race in Winchester 

    • 96.0% are white
    • 0.0% are black
    • 0.0% are asian
    • 0.0% are native american
    • 0.0% claim Other
    • 4.0% claim Hispanic Ethnicity
    • 0.0% Two or More Races
    • 0.0% Hawaiian, Pacific Islander

In the town, the population was spread out, with 12.6% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 15.6% from 25 to 44, 37.9% from 45 to 64, and 28.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 53 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.5 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $32,361, and the median income for a family was $43,333. Males had a median income of $31,875 versus $25,536 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,720. None of the families and 4.1% of the population were living below the poverty line, including no under eighteens and 3.0% of those over 64.


Winchester is served by three Vilas County Trunk Highways. CTH W is the main route through the town, it runs east to Presque Isle and a connection with CTH B, and south to Manitowish Waters and a connection to USH 51. CTH J runs west to Mercer in Iron County and also connects to USH 51. CTH O runs north to the Michigan state line and a connection to Gogebic County Highway 519 and a connection with US 2 at Wakefield, Michigan. The unincorporated community of Winchester can be accessed via town roads Old County O and Townsite Rd.

Airports near Winchester

The Manitowish Waters facility is located about five miles from the Town of Winchester. It is classified as a Basic Utility general aviation airport with no scheduled passenger service. 

The Lakeland Airport/Nobel F. Lee Memorial Field in Minocqua is located about 30 miles south of the Town of Winchester. The airport is categorized as a local general aviation facility and is owned by the Lakeland Airport Commission. There are two paved runways.

The Boulder Junction Airport is located approximately 20 miles from the Town of Winchester. This facility provides facilities for private air transportation. Turf landing strips suitable for small aircraft.


Primary and Secondary Schools

The Town of Winchester is located within the Lakeland School District. At the elementary level, students from the Town attend North Lakeland Elementary School, located at 12686 County Road K in Manitowish Waters. The school serves students in grades K4-8, and 160 students were enrolled during the 2019-2020 school year. The original building was constructed in 1969, but has had several additions since that time.

Throughout grades 9 through 12, students attend Lakeland Union High School (LUHS), located at 9573 WI-70 in Minocqua. LUHS had 737 students enrolled during the 2019-2020 school year. The original school building was constructed in 1957 and has had several modification and additions since that time. Both schools are considered to be in excellent condition.

Post-Graduate Education

Nicolet College is the closest option for post-graduate education. Nicolet College is a public two year technical college located in Rhinelander. They also offer online classes and programs throughout the Nicolet College District which includes the Town of Winchester.


The Town of Winchester has an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program in conjunction with their Volunteer Fire Department. In addition, they provide ambulance services and have an Ambulance Director.

The Town does not have any medical facilities within the Town proper. The major medical facility providers for the Town of Winchester are: 

  • Marshfield Medical Center located 32 miles away in Minocqua, Wisconsin, 
  • Howard Young Medical Center, located 30 miles away in Woodruff, Wisconsin
  • Aspirus Ironwood Hospital, located 33 miles away in Ironwood, Michigan.

Outdoor Points of Intererst

Winchester offers outdoor enthusiasts a true Northwoods experience. The first resort in Winchester was built in 1893, and vacationers have been coming to this beautiful community ever since. Today, pine forests and fresh, clean lakes frame the township. Quiet shorelines echo the call of the loon. Bald eagles soar high above the treetops. Winchester area is perfect for summer activities like fishing, boating and hiking. Winter sports such as skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing are also popular. Whatever activity you choose, you’ll find pristine peacefulness in Winchester—winter, spring, summer or fall.

Winchester Trails

  • Presque Isle-Winchester Bike Route is a paved trail that connects the Presque Isle Community Center to the Birch Lake boat landing in the Town of Winchester.
  • WinMan Trails are located on CTH W at the intersection of CTH J, in the northwest section of the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest. The trails are available for mountain biking, trail running and hiking in the warm seasons, cross-country skiing (classic and skate), snowshoeing and single-track fat tire biking in winter.
  • Heart of Vilas County – Manitowish Waters T are located on CTH W at the intersection of CTH J, in the northwest section of the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest. The trails are available for mountain biking, trail running and hiking in the warm seasons, cross-country skiing (classic and skate), snowshoeing and single-track fat tire biking in winter.

Winchester Area Attraction

  • Nell Lake State Natural Area (designated in 2013) The lake features old-growth red pine, hemlock, and black spruce. This is a 26 acre seepage lake surrounded by an acidic conifer swamp. An old heron rookery occurs within one of the swamp islands and a floating fen mat supports pine bog orchids.
  • Toy Lake Swamp State Natural Area (designated in 2007) This is a large wetland complex of hardwood swamp, white cedar swamp, and alder thicket surrounding a basin containing a shallow, drained lake with dense aquatic and wetland vegetation. The extensive forested wetland contains white cedar, black ash, and alder. Upland islands support large white pine, hemlock, yellow birch, white spruce, and balsam fir.
  • Mary Lake State Natural Area (designated in 1999) Three acre Mary Lake is one of very few known meromictic lakes in Wisconsin. Meromixis, the permanent thermal stratification of the water, results from the lake having an extremely small surface area in comparison to the depth. Mary Lake has a small 3 acre surface and a disproportionately very deep 67 foot depth. Therefore, Mary Lake never “turns over” and circulates as the water temperature changes in the spring and fall as is typical of most other Wisconsin lakes. Instead, the lake stays stratified creating unusual chemical and biological layers.

Great Lakes or Chains

Winchester, Wisconsin is a smaller town in the northwest part of Vilas County.  This area doesn’t receive as much fishing pressure as many of the other parts of Vilas County, but you also don’t have as many options here when it comes to lakes.  There are some solid lakes here though and you can target walleye, muskie, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and panfish.

Turtle Chain of Lakes

The Turtle Lake Chain is a small chain of 3 lakes that are located in the town of Winchester, Wisconsin.  The lakes offer good fishing for a variety of fish such as northern pike, muskie, bass, walleye and panfish.

  • North Turtle Lake. The heart of the chain is North Turtle Lake, covering 359 acres with a maximum depth of 58 feet. North Turtle is fed by water from Rainbow Creek and Rock Lake (connecting to Rock Lake via a 100-yard waterway, where a public boat landing provides access). North Turtle boaters access South Turtle Lake via a passage beneath a small bridge. 


  • Rock Lake. Rock Lake is the northernmost lake in the chain. It covers 120 acres and has a maximum depth of 18 feet. The lake is fed by No Man’s Creek, and connects to the chain via a winding, 100-yard waterway (home to the public boat landing that provides access). The lake’s isolated feel makes it a favorite for kayaking and observing wildlife.


  • South Turtle Lake. At 466 acres, South Turtle Lake is the largest lake in the chain, and has a maximum depth of 40 feet. Visitors have access via a public boat landing on the northeastern shore of the lake. It connects to North Turtle via a water passage below a small bridge. A dam on South Turtle Lake regulates the water depth for the chain, and marks the headwaters of the Turtle River. The town of Winchester is located near the lake’s northwest shore.

Other Lakes

Birch Lake. Birch Lake is a 506 acre lake located in Vilas County.  It has a maximum depth of 45 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include walleye, muskie, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and panfish. The lake’s water is moderately clear.

Harris Lake. Harris Lake is a 534 acre lake located in Vilas County.  It has a maximum depth of 57 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from a public boat landing. Fish include walleye, muskie, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and panfish.

No Mans Lake. No Mans Lake is a 230 acre lake located in Vilas County.  It has a maximum depth of 31 feet. Fish include muskie, walleye, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and panfish.  

Art Centers, Community Centers, and ETC

Our newly renovated school building houses a community area, the Winchester Public Library and an excellent history display of the area.

Public Library

The Library is located in the Winchester Community Building in the town site area on the west side of South Turtle Lake.

While primarily used as a library, the building continues to be used regularly by the Winchester Women’s Civic Club, Friends of the Library Quilters Group, Pine Tones Chorus, and other community organizations and clubs. It is truly the Winchester Community Center.

The Winchester Public Library holds events for kids and adults throughout the year. These are posted around town on posters, the website and the Facebook page. We strive to provide new and interesting programs and activities each year. These include guest speakers, chats with authors, and programs put on by local organizations, such as the Discovery Center UW Badger Talks.

Municipal Building (Town Hall)

The Town of Winchester’s administrative facilities are located at the Winchester Town Hall at 7229 Highway W, Winchester. The Town Hall is used for Town business and monthly Town meetings are held the first Monday at 7:00 p.m.

Community Park

This park is located on Townsite Road along the Turtle River. The facility includes new picnic tables, two ADA pavilions, basketball and volleyball courts, playground equipment, and ADA fishing pier, and ADA restrooms.

Average Home Price Sold

2018 Ave Price Sold: $235,200.00

2021 Ave Price Sold: $328,140.32

2023 Ave Price Sold: $515,650.00

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