5 Geographic Facts Every Wisconsinite Should Know

Tom Giffey

Pittsville, WI (see #4 below). Image: Royalbroil | CC BY-SA 3.0
Pittsville, WI (see #4 below). Image: Royalbroil | CC BY-SA 3.0

1. LOTS OF LAKES

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, our state has 15,074 lakes. Not counting the Great Lakes, the largest of them is Lake Winnebago, which covers 206 square miles. By contrast, Minnesota’s DNR says that state has 11,842 lakes, although it only counts lakes larger than 10 acres. By that same definition, Wisconsin has only 5,898 lakes.

2. LOOKING UP

The highest natural point in the state is Timms Hill, which you’ll find in the appropriately named Town of Hill in Price County (about a two-hour drive northeast of Eau Claire). According to the State Cartographer’s Office, Timms Hill is 1,951.5 feet tall. If you’re curious, the highest point in Eau Claire County is an unnamed 1,340-foot-tall hill in rural Fairchild.

3. BIGGER WITH WATER

Wisconsin’s land area is 54,158 square miles, the U.S. Census Bureau says. (And you thought they only counted people!) That makes Wisconsin the 25th largest state in the union. When you count all our waterways, however, Wisconsin moves up the list to 23rd biggest at 65,496 square miles.

4. RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE

Want to get to the heart of the Badger State? Check out the small city of Pittsville near Marshfield. You’ll find the exact geographic center of Wisconsin just west of town on an island in the Yellow River. Back in the 1950s, Gov. Walter J. Kohler Jr. officially proclaimed Pittsville the center of the state.

5. RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE (PART II)

Imagine cutting our planet into four sections with two long slices: one along the equator and one along the Prime Meridian/International Date Line. Now, take the one-quarter of the globe that includes North America. Smack-dab in the middle of this quadrant of the Earth’s surface is a geographic marker in a soybean field near the unincorporated community of Poniatowski, Wisconsin, in Marathon County. If you’re a lover of geographic oddities, punch 45 degrees north, 90 degrees west into your GPS, or simply drive east on Highway 29 until you see the sign.

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