PORTAGE CITY, capital of Columbia co. Wis. on the La Crosse railroad (unfinished) and on the ship canal connecting the Wisconsin and Fox rivers, at the noted Winnebago Portage, 40 miles N. from Madison. It is at the head of navigation on the Wisconsin river, and is a depot for large quantities of pine lumber. Two steamboats ply constantly during the summer between this place and Galena. The improvement of Fox river, when finished, will open steamboat navigation from the lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. Portage City contains (in 1853) 15 stores, 7 hotels, 2 churches, 2 select schools, 1 iron foundry, 1 sash factory, and 1 chair factory. Pop. 2000. Here is the site of the old Fort Winnebago. (Baldwin's New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States..., 1854)

PORTAGE CITY, P. V. & C. H., on section 5 and 8 of town 12 N., of range 9 E., in Columbia county. It is 40 miles north from Madison. Population 2,000; with 12 stores, 7 hotels, 1 steam saw mill, 2 harness makers, 4 waggon makers, 6 blacksmiths, 3 cabinet, 3 paint, 8 shoe, 3 tin and sheet iron, 3 butchers, 6 millinery and 4 tailor's shops, 2 breweries, 2 livery stables, 2 jewelry stores, 2 drug stores, 1 brick yard, 1 iron foundry, 1 blind and sash factory, 1 chair factory and 1 tannery; 12 lawyers and 5 doctors; 3 district and 2 select schools; 1 church building and 2 denominations. It is finely situated on a bluff between the Fox and Wisconsin rivers at the point where they are connected by a ship canal. The Wisconsin is navigable to this place, and the commerce on the river is considerable and constantly increasing. Two steamers ply constantly between this place and Galena during the summer. The number of mills on the Wisconsin, and its tributaries, is about 100; the lumber from which seeks a market between this place and St. Louis. The amount of lumber sent below is almost beyond calculation. In addition to which, numerous mills are starting on the river at different points below the pinery, and logs are rafted to them. The amount of square timber rafted exceeds millions of feet annually, shingles and bolts, lath, pickets, &c. The Wolf river pinery is beginning to pour its vast amounts of the finest lumber in the State, through the Fox river, which stream also is navigable for small steamboats. When the projected State improvement is finished, inter-communication will be established between the upper Lake country and the Gulf of Mexico, and the carrying trade will produce a large revenue to the State. The importance of Portage City, as a commercial point, is beyond doubt very great. It commands 200 miles north where the pine forests nourish a large population, and are continually pouring their products south, and will for years to come. (John Warren Hunt, Wisconsin Gazetteer..., Madison, 1853)

Total Population 1850
Total Population 1860
City or Town