Center for Commerce and Tourism
1101 Main Street
Onalaska, WI 54650
Telephone: (800) 873-1901
In 1851, Thomas G. Rowe of New York arrived at this wild and beautiful place along the banks of the Mississippi River and named it Onalaska, after a line from a poem by Thomas Campbell entitled, “The Pleasures of Hope.”
Onalaska was part of the logging boom of the 1800s, with white pine logs from the Northwoods of Wisconsin and Minnesota being milled here in the town’s many lumber mills. The Onalaska History Museum, located in the Onalaska Public Library at 741 Oak Avenue South has exhibits that focus on the area’s lumber history, from the Ice Age to modern times. Archeological exhibits feature ancient bones, tools, weapons and pottery found in the area.
Onalaska sits on the shore of the immense Lake Onalaska, earning Onalaska the reputation of being the “Sunfish Capital of the World.” Lake Onalaska is also known as Pool #7 and is a great place for boating, sailing, fishing, hunting and birdwatching.
The Great River State Trail begins in Onalaska and runs for 24 miles through wetlands and along the Mississippi River, providing hikers and bicyclists with fantastic views as it traverses 18 waterways and crosses over the Black River on a 287-foot former railroad trestle on its way to Trempealeau.