STAFF NOTE: The City Starts Its Celebration

kicking off Eau Claire’s 150th birthday year

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

SESQUICENTENNIAL STYLE. Interim City Manager Dave Solberg poses with Eau Claire’s birthday cake.
SESQUICENTENNIAL STYLE. Interim City Manager Dave Solberg poses with Eau Claire’s birthday cake.

As you may have heard – especially if you picked up the last issue of Volume One – the City of Eau Claire just turned 150. The official birthday was Saturday, March 19; that was the day in 1872 that three small villages on the banks of two rivers were incorporated into one city. This year, the occasion was not met with fireworks and parades, unfortunately, although that is understandable considering the sesquicentennial happened to fall in the waning stages of both a Wisconsin winter and a worldwide pandemic. And yet a roomful of dignitaries and city-zens (if that’s a new word, I’m trademarking it) gathered at the Chippewa Valley Museum that day to toast the city’s big birthday. Well, toast might not be the best word to choose, as alcohol was absent from the festivities. The celebration was more in keeping with Prohibition Era Eau Claire than the city’s earlier, rowdier days, when lumberjacks drank away their wages in the small city’s 90 drinking establishments. There was, however, a copious amount of cake.

Interim City Manager Dave Solberg, dressed in the finery of a 19th-century gentleman, complete with a top hat, addressed the gathering, promising to buy anyone there a drink when the city turns 200. (We have long memories and will hold him to it.) Peters read a proclamation that was passed by the City Council on March 8, declaring the day “Eau Claire Day.” Attendees swapped stories, shared memories, and enjoyed a slideshow that contrasted historic images with contemporary ones – allowing a deeper understanding of how the city has changed, and how it hasn’t, in the past century and a half. Commemorations will continue over the course of the year, and will include an exhibit opening at the museum in April. 

Volume One plans to continue to spotlight the city’s long, fascinating history throughout the year with additional stories like those found in our recent sesquicentennial special edition. You’ll find the first of those, a look back at the nearly century-long history of broadcasting in town, on Page 11 of this issue. If you have ideas for historic topics we should highlight, feel free to reach out to me at 

Eau Claire 150th is presented by:

Market & Johnson
EST. 1948
2350 Galloway St.
Eau Claire, WI

Founding Stories

Founding Stories

Celebrating the respected and long-running local businesses that grew with this community through our 150 years