Portage has been a hub of transportation in the upper Midwest since long before the city was incorporated in 1854. The early voyageurs traveled on the Wisconsin and Fox Rivers. When they reached this area and needed to continue traveling by water, they needed to carry their craft over this land bridge from one river to the other, thus the name of our city "Portage." Later in the 19th Century, the city became a hub for railroad travel - a status it maintains to this day.
The Historic Indian Agency House, built in 1832, is one of Wisconsin's earliest houses. It was constructed by the US Government as a residence for the Indian Agent to the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago). The Agency House is still on its original site above the Portage Canal. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
There is much to do in Portage year-round. Silver Lake Beach in Portage offers a wide, sandy beach, wading, swimming, and diving opportunities for the whole family. Enjoy a day of golf at one of several courses. Boating on the Wisconsin River is a favorite warm-weather pastime for area residents and visitors alike. Boat ramps are indicated on the county recreational map available at the Chamber of Commerce office. The map aso indicates ramps on various lakes in the county. The Ice Age Trail and the Wisconsin River Levee Walking Trail both offer beautiful scenery for walkers and hikers. Maps of the Ice Age Trail are available at the Chamber office. The Wisconsin River Levee Trail is a 2.5 mile out and back trail with access areas at Riverside Park near downtown Portage.
Our Downtown historic retail district is always busy with activity, being the focal point of our many celebrations and festivals throughout the year. There are many specialty shops, and some stores are still owned by the second or third generation of families. Two new shopping centers on Hwy. 51, one on the north end and one at the south, have brought major national retailers to town. Outdoors enthusiasts will also enjoy the more than 30,000 acres of waterways and wildlife areas in the immediate Portage area. This area supports a multitude of hunting and fishing opportunities with an abundant supply of white tail deer, wild turkey, geese and other waterfowl, and a wide variety of small game. Fishing is abundant in the area waterways and lakes, as well as canoeing and boating in the Swan Lake area, Wisconsin River and Lake Wisconsin.
Once the leaves start turning red and gold, thoughts turn to curling, hockey, skiing, tubing, and snowmobiling. You haven't really experienced winter in Portage until you've become familiar with curling, a sport brought here by Scottish immigrants. The Curling Club is located on East Albert Street just off of Hwy. 51, north of the train tracks. Skiers in Portage are lucky to have Cascade Mountain just four miles from town. It's rated among the best Midwestern ski hills, and there's something for beginners or seasoned pros.
Portage Area Chamber of Commerce
104 West Cook Street •
Portage, WI 53901
phone: (608) 742-6242 • toll free 800-474-2525
www.portagewi.com • email firstname.lastname@example.org