Keeping History Alive

Waupaca and the Chain O'Lakes

  The Waupaca area, along with the Chain O'Lakes, were long home to the Menominee Indian tribe. The Waupaca River's falls and the nearby lakes provided an abundance of water, vegetation and wildlife. For many years, the Menominee moved around the area as the seasons changed, traveling from their village, likely on Otter Lake, to local camping grounds. 

  In 1848, a federal treaty relinquished the last of their lands, including Waupaca. In June 1849, the five men from Vermont claimed land along the Waupaca River at what is now the city of Waupaca. These early settlers came to Waupaca looking for the "The Falls" that they'd heard so much about. Eventually the settlement took its name from a Menominee word meaning, "the quality of the light, or morning light on the water."

  Waupaca steadily grew around the water, harnessing the power of the falls and welcoming many more settlers, including many Danish and Scandinavian immigrants. The Waupaca Historical Society, located in downtown Waupaca on Main Street, strives to preserve this rich history while educating and informing the public.

  Visit one of our four historic buildings today and let us help you discover Waupaca's past today!


The Waupaca Historical Society and its buildings are closed for the foreseeable future due to restrictions as a result of COVID-19. If you need any help with research or would like to order books/DVD for home use, please call us at (715) 256-9980 or email at

Thank you!

Upcoming Programs 

Thurs., March 26 at 6 p.m.

CANCELLED (to be rescheduled for 2021)

"The Making of Pioneer Wisconsin: Voices of Early Settlers" with author Michael Stevens

(Sponsored by Rex and Linda Pope)

Thurs., April 16 at 6 p.m. 

"Waupaca's Masonic Lodge"

(Sponsored by Charles Larson and A.J. Holly & Sons Funeral Home)

Thurs., May 14 at 6 p.m. 

"Whispering Pines Park: Memories of How It Was (1929-1974)"

(Sponsored by the Boyer Family)

Current Exhibits at the Holly Center

From the Falls to the Foundry: The History of Waupaca

Whispering Pines Park

Carnegie Library and Waupaca's Women's Clubs

Waupaca's Warriors

Celebrations of Waupaca: From Holidays to Parades

Keeping History Alive: A Look at What's New at the Waupaca Historical Society

And much more!

Waupaca's Main Street