History

Wisconsin Great River Road | Wisconsin’s National Scenic Byway
Lake Onalaska, wi

Photo courtesy of the Onalaska Historical Society

The communities along the Wisconsin Great River Road are among the oldest in the Midwest, with some communities dating to the 1600s. Before European settlement, Native American tribes called the river corridor home. Today, visitors will see remnants of the Oneota, Hopewell and other ancient cultures through the burial mounds and effigy mounds found up and down the Wisconsin Great River Road.

The miles of wetlands and untouched river-bottom forests that run along more than two thirds of the Wisconsin Great River Road are a result of an Act of Congress in 1924 that established the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge. The beautiful pools and winding channels that you see on the Mississippi River today are a result of the Lock and Dam system built in the 1930s.