A Brief History of Weyauwega
The Menominee tribe was said to have been the prevalent group in the area at the time the territory was settled by Europeans in the early 1840s. As far as most know, the starting point of this community was in 1848 when men traveled from the east to west via waterways seeking a place where they hoped to build a better life for themselves and their families. Abundant resources – water, timber and fertile soil – promised prosperity to those who came. Henry Tourtelotte, Amos Dodge, James Hicks and M. Lewis secured the power rights on the Wolf River, which is only 1-1/2 miles from the downtown. The Waupaca River flows through the community to the “mighty Wolf”. The waterways brought early settlers to this area before there were roads. Then, of course, came the building of a saw mill for use in building homes and businesses. Henry Tourtelotte built the first frame house in the settlement in November, 1849. Robert Baxter put up the second building in May, 1850, which was designed to be used as a hotel. This was the first traveler’s home in the county. Then, the real work began! In the summer of 1853, a plank road was built from Weyauwega to Gills Landing (located on the Wolf River).
Soon after the plank road was built the passengers and freight that had reached Plover and Stevens Point by way of Berlin and Portage City commenced to seek the Gills Landing route. The building of the Wisconsin Central Railroad was a death blow to Gills Landing and the plank road. But, it didn’t stop the people who had worked and built this community. In 1855, came the building of a rye mill – the largest in the world at this time! This mill embraced all of the more recent improvements in the manufacture of flour, both in the custom and merchants departments. Weyauwega first became a village in 1856, then grew to a city government in 1939. Farm families and city business people have worked hand-in-hand for generations. The City grew and prospered.
In 1960, several businessmen came up with the idea of “Horse and Buggy Days” to pay tribute to the history and people of the past and provide an opportunity to celebrate those times in grand fashion. Although those who were instrumental in creating the event are now gone, the legacy of this event carries on. Every fall the community celebrates these days of old by looking back to historic times. Some traditions include having a big parade highlighting two dedicated senior citizens as king and queen, dressing in clothes of the era, having lost arts displays to teach the current generation of the “way things were”, having horse rides, and a great fun time for all! To celebrate the 150th birthday of Weyauwega marked on March 31, 2006, “Weyauwega Remembers” was held at the Waupaca County Fairgrounds which is located in the City of Weyauwega. A book named the same as the event, Weyauwega Remembers was compiled and is available in the Weyauwega Public Library. Dedication of the historical paintings on the old rye silo was held with songs written about/for Weyauwega being sung. A time capsule to be opened in 50 years was also buried.
Although, we all prefer to focus on the positive, Weyauwega has not been without its problems. History shows it to have had many fires; major storms – a tornado in 1950; loss of dedicated military lives throughout the years; 3 train derailments (the internationally-renowned last one on March 4, 1996). An historical society was created in the winter of 2006 to preserve the history of the community, and several other projects have been started and continue today.