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. Keep up-to-date with us and Waupaca history on Facebook at facebook.com/
If you need any help with research or would like to order books/DVDs during this time at home, please call us at (715) 256-9980 or email at
Thurs., June 25 at 6 p.m.
"Waupaca's Masonic Lodge"
(Sponsored by Charles Larson and A.J. Holly & Sons Funeral Home)
Thurs., July 23 at 6 p.m.
"In All The World, No Lakes Like These: Images of the Waupaca Chain O'Lakes"
(Sponsored by Rex and Linda Pope)