explore our long, rich

local history

In many ways, Thorp is like other small Wisconsin towns. Our uniqueness lies in the people who came before us and the stories they've created over the years. Once a wild frontier to a modern community, Thorp has reinvented itself time and again.


Local History

A Wild Frontier Full of wonder

Like many small Midwestern small towns, Thorp was founded and developed in the land owned and occupied by Native Americans. We honor the proud tribes that resided in the Chippewa Valley; the Winnebago's, Chippewa's, Sioux's, and Menomonie's. These four tribes claimed territory along the Black River within the present boundaries of Clark County.

While there was relative peace between white settlers and local tribes, there were conflicts, as well. Multiple attempts to deport the natives failed until there was money to made. Unfortunately, life would never be the same in the surrounding area for anyone.

it begins

a town is born

Established in 1876

The history of Thorp is one of a vibrant Native American community followed by American expansion during the 1800s. It then weaves its way through multiple changes in economic and population shifts that echos the growing nation.

Learn about the earliest known settlers, key landmarks that dot the area, and how the demographics of our city came to be. You can even look at a timeline of significant events in our local history.All information on our community has been collected and curated with the diligent effort of the Thorp Area Historical Society.


Our history began in the late 1800s and evolved over the next 150 years. During war, pandemics, booms, and busts, Thorp has endured while leaving its mark on the region and the state of Wisconsin.

The Beginning (1870-1879)

1870  James Seneca Boardman moved into the area, along with several other families

More settlers arrive and the first non-Native American child is born; Mabel Boardman. First school, store, and post office are established.

Town of Thorp established; officers elected (January 21)

First 4th of July celebrated; first marriage

Surveying of the railroad begins

Booming Years (1880-1899)

1881  First turnpike road built. Logging was the main industry. First sawmill builtRailroad tracks completed  Wisconsin Central RailroadTelegraph office opened.

1882  Baptist church and hardware store built.

1883  Newspaper “pioneer” was published.

1885  St. Bernard Catholic Church built.

1886  Methodist Church built

1889  Diptheria epidemic

Early 20th Century (1900-1913)

1900  Lutheran Church builtb.

1903  Boston Store in Thorp gets electric lights. Organized clubs and lodges, by menfolk. Church societies for the ladies. High school students had a Literary Society

1905  First Polish settlers; St. Hedwig’s Catholic Church was built

1912  High School built

World War 1 to Mid-Century

1915  Farming and dairy industry became successful. Lumber industry began to fade. Thorp Dairy Company appears.

1925  First public library built

Great Depression All residents suffer through the late 1920’s and 1930’s.

1940  Population grew because of Blue Moon’s offer of work. Farmers begin to prosper once again. New businesses begin to appear along Highway 29.

1948  Thorp became a city.

Support Us With a Financial Gift

make donations here

continue your journey in learning about thorp's history at the

thorp area historical mUSEUM

You've only scratched the surface here

Come in and step back in time to discover how a small logging camp developed into a thriving, rural Wisconsin community! Our exhibits showcase the stories of people, businesses, and the agricultural impact that helped our community become what we are today - A Place To Belong.

The Thorp Area Historical Society collects and displays history, genealogies, and artifacts of the area and world which have affected the local way of life. we also have a growing collection of early-period farm equipment, machinery, clothing, household items, books, and war memories.

The museum is located 2 blocks west of Washington Street at 307 W Birch St. You can call us at (715)773-0102.

historical society

a historic landmark across our area

yellowstone trail

a modern connection to our neighboring towns

There are seven unique towns along the Yellowstone Trail (County X). They offer a buffet of little gems like small community parks, turn of the century churches, quaint restaurants and American history.

In 1912, roads were dirt wagons roads - dust and muc. Citizens gathered to improve and connect local roads to make the first coast-to-coast route in the northern tier of states: The Yellowstone Trail. In 1918, Wisconsin was the first to number its automobile highways and governments were starting to fund good roads. By 1929, the Yellowstone Trail was the first Wisconsin highway to be paved wit concrete all across the state.

Thorp(e) - Railroad telegraphers dropped the (e) from founder Joseph Gilbert Thorpe's name. This lawyer, lumber baron and State Senator lived in Eau Claire, but never in his eponymous town. Thorp's Yellowstone Trail Park is so named because it is on the Trail, (Stanley st., Co. X). The park recently received that name due to a resurgence of interest in the Yellowstone Trail. Outdoor activities there include ice skating and summer live music.

Almost two decades ago, local resident Arnoldine Gulcynski was instrumental in reviving interest in the Trail in the area by placing markers at the main intersection in town, Stanly St. (Co. X, YT) and Co. M. At the same intersection is Bob's Corner Service and next to that Bolt's of Fun Quilt Shop. In the 1920s and 1930s, Al Capone, the famous Chicago gangster, frequently stopped at this station on his way to his hideout in northern wisconsin. At the same intersection sits the present Heritage Court Motel in a 100 year old building. there is a large yellow rock on the corner of Hwy X and Gorman Avenue marking the Trail.

Thorp area
Historical & telephone Museum

see Our Past Today