Wondering about Wausau?

Split in half by the Wisconsin River, the City of Wausau sits as the seat of Marathon County. This Wisconsin city, located near the Town of Wausau, dates back to the 19th century.




The area that Wausau occupies was shaped by the Native Americans who called it home for thousands of years. The people were known as the Ojibwe, or Chippewa, and lived in what is now known as Marathon County until they were pushed out by the Indian war. The war was precipitated by a booming fur trade with the French, which would last even as the French and Native Americans were replaced by American colonists that pushed West later on. The Erie Canal changed everything, helping to Transform America from New York on, funneling settlers Westward.

The land was highly prized because of its fur-bearing animals and location along the Wisconsin River. Those are what first attracted the Ojibwe, then the French, and finally the Americans. The land officially came into possession of European-Americans in 1836, with the signature of a treaty with the US government by the Ojibwe. Even though the Ojibwe lost the land, the name that remains to this day comes from their language. Wausau can be translated as “faraway place.” The name now acts as a reminder of a faraway time.

Political Culture


The city of Wausau is governed by a mayor and a council. The council is composed of 11 different alderpersons. Every one of these alderpersons is elected by a district to represent it on the council. The council has a wide range of responsibilities, which are divided further into eight different committees. These committees manage everything from the city’s parks to its finances. If citizens have any issues with the way, the government is run they have some choices. They can attend council meetings, talk to their alderperson, or run for alderperson themselves. This approach to governance rewards civic responsibility and has allowed Wausau to be as peaceful and prosperous as it is.



Wausau is a bit of an economic throwback. While much of the country is moving in a service-based direction, Wausau is still a thriving manufacturing destination. Many products are made within the Wausau city limits, although there is an emphasis on paper products.  Other popular industries in Wausau include insurance, construction, and agriculture.

The farmland surrounding Wausau is used to grow American ginseng. While ginseng is commonly associated with China in this day and age, it is native to the East coast of North America. It is sold worldwide as a health supplement. The other prominent natural resources in the Wausau area is red granite from the local quarries.

Overall Wausau has a healthy economy. Diverse industries, a variety of natural resources, below average unemployment, and consistent growth. The city has its ups and downs but overall the outlook for Wausau is very good.

Parks and Recreation

The people of Wausau appreciate nature. While the city isn’t the largest in Wisconsin it still has plenty of parks. There are over 337 acres of parkland overseen by the city of Wausau. The city’s Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department maintains 37 parks spread out over those acres. Some of the most famous parks center around Oak Island. The Oak Island Community Park has courts people can play tennis on, playgrounds for children, a baseball field for players of all ages, and a variety of shelters. There’s even a closed building with a kitchen for special events. One of the biggest events in the area is the Big Bull Falls Blues Festival, held in nearby Fern Island. Fern Island can be reached via a bridge connecting it with Oak Island.

Other parks include Athletic Park, Whitewater Park, Sylvan Hills, and Marathon Park. These parks house Rapids, a basketball stadium, hockey rinks, camping sights, an amphitheater, and more. There are plenty of things to do all year long in Wausau’s many parks.

Things To Do In Wausau

In addition to the many parks, there are plenty of other ways to stay entertained in Wausau. Citizens and visitors can start the day off reading one of the three newspapers published. There’s the Wausau Daily Herald, the CityPages, and the Le Dernier Cri. They are daily, weekly, and monthly, respectively.


From there people can visit one of the many entertainment venues and events operating year round. The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum and The Grand Theatre are two of the most popular destinations. Special events held throughout the year include the Hmong New Year and the Wisconsin Valley Fair.
Simply put, there’s always something going on in Wausau.