About La Crosse

Historic Beauty…Modern Community
Each year, La Crosse attracts more than one million visitors as people across the globe are attracted by the natural beauty and recreational opportunities offered by the upper Mississippi River area – not to mention the region’s rich history, unique attractions and variety of great shopping, dining and cultural offerings.  Whether you’re stopping over for a short trip or looking for the perfect spot for an extended getaway, La Crosse is the ideal destination for you, conveniently located between Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Chicago, Illinois  there is something for everyone!

History
The greater La Crosse region, or “Driftless Region,” is a geological oddity in the sense that  our area escaped the glaciers of the Ice Age unscathed.  While many surrounding regions appear more flat, our beautiful Mississippi River valley is bordered by breathtaking limestone bluffs and rolling hills that lead to scenic “coulees” or valleys.

Downtown La Crosse’s Riverside Park is known as “the place where three rivers meet.”  In addition to the Mississippi River, the La Crosse and Black Rivers join together at the north end of the park.  Native American legend says that where three bodies of water meet, no big winds shall blow.  To date, there have not been any tornadoes in the vicinity of Riverside Park.  Hiawatha, a 25′ tall statue, is the guardian of this convergence and can be seen standing guard at the north end of Riverside Park where the three rivers join together.

Fast Facts
Area Population: 114,000
Number of hotel rooms: 2,500
Largest room block: 140
Largest single meeting & exhibit facility: 100,000 sq. ft.
Access: La Crosse Regional Airport, Interstate 90, Hwy 35/53, 14/16/61 or 33, Mississippi River Navigational System

Timeline

  • 1541 – Spaniard Hernando de Sota discovers our valley region during his search westward for gold
  • 1682 - Robert La Salle and a small band of men sail from Lake Itasca, MN to the Gulf of Mexico, claiming possession of the river and adjoining lands for the King of France
  • 1803 – The Louisiana purchase is made, making the United States owner of the entire Mississippi River Valley
  • 1841 – Nathan Myrick leaves New York at the age of 18 and travels west, deciding to settle in what is now La Crosse.  He sets up a fur trading post, originally on Barron Island, and becomes a successful fur trader with the Native Americans already living in the area.  After the winter freeze, Nathan moves his fur trading post across the Mississippi River to what is now Riverside Park.
  • 1850 – The first complete service of Christian Divine Worship is conducted in La Crosse on top of Grandad Bluff by Father James Lloyd Breck on June 23rd, 1850
  • 1854 – A seven-person committee drafts a charter for city status
  • 1856 – La Crosse officially becomes a city
  • 1858 – City Brewery is founded by two German immigrants, Gottlieb Heileman and John Gund.  In 1872, Gund sells Heileman his share of the brewery, and it is renamed G. Heileman Brewing Company.  In 1902, this brewery copyrights OLD STYLE Lager, one of its most popular products.  In 1999 the brewery was purchased by a group of local investors, and is named City Brewery, focusing on contract brewing.
  • 1870 – The War Eagle, a La Crosse steamboat, sinks at the location where the three rivers (Mississippi, La Crosse, and Black Rivers) meet
  • 1909 – The University of Wisconsin – La Crosse is founded as the La Crosse Normal School
  • 1913 – Trane Company is incorporated by Norwegian immigrant James Trane, and his son Reuban.