Historical Overview

Necedah, Wisconsin is situated at the base of a high cliff on the Yellow River, a few miles from its mouth, and is opposite the famous Petenwell Rock. It was one of the most important lumbering towns of this region and was the first place in Juneau County to have manufacturing interests.

The name "Necedah" comes from the Ho Chunk peoples who inhabited the area before the arrival of european settlers and means "Land of the Yellow Waters", a reference to the Yellow River.

Settlers began to explore the area in the early 1840's. In 1848 the land was "ceded" to the U.S. government and Thomas Weston and J.T. Kingston arrived in the area and, as was the custom, staked claims by "blazing" a tree on either side of the river and carving their names and date on them.

After building a rough log hut, they returned to their homes in Grand Rapids (now Wisconsin Rapids) and formed a saw mill company.


birdThe T. Weston & Co. Saw Mill built in 1848-1849. The town of Necedah was built around the mill.



Settlement soon began and the Weston's crew drove 700,000 feet of logs from Wisconsin Rapids down to the proposed mill in Necedah. By 1849 they had cleared six acres of land, from the base of the bluff in what is now Necedah to the waters edge near the present Necedah dam.

The town became an important lumber center in its early years. Sixty-five million feet of logs were sawed annually and then shipped down the Yellow River and into the Wisconsin River before finally arriving in Galena, Illinois where most of it was sold for $11 to $12 per thousand feet.

Necedah street,1910

birdStreet Scene Necedah--1910








In 1881 when one of the first railroads came to town, the Necedah Lumber Company shipped out 900 cars of lumber in the first nine months. Trains were loaded with red and white oak, elm, ash, basswood and birch.

In 1852, by an order of the Board of Supervisors, the election precinct was established. The first school was also opened at this time by T. Weston and the first teacher was a Miss M. C. Kay.

In 1853 the mail route was extended to Necedah and an E. S. Minor was appointed the first postmaster. In April of the same year the territory was organized as a town.

The village was laid out and platted in 1856 by T. Weston and incorporated as a village in 1870. Businesses such as a jewlery store, physician services, lumber, cranberries, mills, livery service and a hardware store were established.

Memorial Day Parade


Memorial Day Parade--Main St. Necedah, Wisconsin 1905







In 1915 the village had the misfortune of having part of the business district destroyed by fire but the buildings were almost all rebuilt.

Close to Necedah is the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1939 in what is called the Great Central Wisconsin Swamp (the largest wetland-bog in the state--7,800 square miles), a 43,696 acre area permanent wildlife refuge. Receiving some 145,000 visitors annually, the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge provides home for trees, coyote, deer, beaver, turkey and for endangered species of Karner Blue Butterfly, massasauga rattlesnake and Blanding's turtle. In the early spring and fall visitors can observe the 10,000 geese and ducks which migrate to this safe place annually.

From the Juneau County Economic Development Corportations Whooping Crane Festival Page: September 21st and 22nd

"For the first time in more than 100 years, wild whooping cranes have arrived in Necedah. Early in July of 2001, ten flightless chicks, then only about 8 weeks old, arrived by private plane (provided by Windway Corporation) from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (Maryland), and quickly settled into their new surroundings in a remote area located in the Necedah Wildlife Refuge. Under the direction of Operation Migration (Canada) the young birds underwent rigorous flight training in preparation for their "first historic flight" to a wintering site in Chassahowizka National Wildlife Refuge on the gulf coast of Florida. As we know now, after many hurdles, the historic event was a success and the birds are enjoying their winter home.

Whooping cranes have been brought to the Necedah Wildlife Refuge for the specific purpose of developing a secondary migratory flock in the eastern half of the United States. The existing, primary flock migrates between Canada and Texas with various stops along the way. Listed as "endangered," in 1941 there were only 15 of the species to be found in the world. Since that time their numbers have steadily risen to approximately 176 (2001)."

To learn more about the Whooping Crane Festival click Here for the Juneau County Economic Development Corporations Whooping Crane Festival page. And Here for more information about Crane Restoration in Wisconsin (from SavingCranes.org)

Photos from "Juneau County, Wisconsin: Post Cards and Photos--1854-2000" by William A. Schriver"

Information Compiled & Provided by: West Central Wisconsin Community

Payday in the 1910's

birdPayday for construction workers of the C & NW Railroad in Necedah in the 1910's