Portage County Time Line 1950 thru 1974

Quick Jumps: 1827, 1850, 1875, 1900, 1925, 1950, 1975

1950  County population: 34,858.

The Korean War begins.

Led by activist Alex Wallace, Stevens Point votes to end fluoridation of the water system.

Almond farmer Jim Burns drills the first well in the county used to irrigate crops.

The Stevens Point Industrial Development Corp. is organized and purchases land for an industrial park on the south side of the city.

1951  One person dies and two are seriously injured when the Lipman Store explodes in Stevens Point.

The Central State Teachers College is renamed Wisconsin State College at Stevens Point.

1952  Portage County helps elect Dwight Eisenhower president; “Ike” polls 8,499 votes againt 7,537 for Democrat Adlai Stevenson; county also votes to re-elect Senator Joseph McCarthy by about the same margin.
1953  The Korean War ends; 14 Portage County men die in service.

The television era beings when stations in Wausau, Green Bay and Eau Claire receive licenses to broadcast and send their signals to Portage County.

Newby’s Trailer Park, the county’s first, opens in Plover.

The State Highway Commission relocates Highway 51 from Church to Division Street in Stevens Point.

1954  The county has 45 school districts with 69 school buildings, 57 of them one-room rural schools, 9 of which were built prior to 1900; 600 high school students do not live in a high school district and their towns are charged fees totaling more than $144,000 so they can attend a city or village high school.

School district reorganization continues: all one-room schools are closed in the Whiting/Plover district and all of Almond’s elementary students are in one “integrated” school building.

Environmentalists Frances and Frederick Hamerstrom announce plans to restore prairie chicken habitat and prairie chickens on the Buena Vista Marsh.

Anton and Harriet Domaszek install the county’s first bulk milk tank on their dairy farm.

The Green Bay Packers hold a training camp at Wisconsin State College.

1955  Stevens Point and Portage County agree to build a joint city-county building.

‘Damage was considerable,” from wind erosion in May; “plowed fields had the appearance of a heavy haze or smoke for hour after hour.”

The old “Stink Mill,” at McDill is demolished and the land turned into a park.

School district reorganization continues: Stockton is dissolved, Arnott, Hall and Prairie districts are merged: Coddington split between Bancroft and Whiting/Plover/Buena Vista; all five Town of Grant one-room schools merged into one “central school.”

1956  May Roach retires after teaching for 50 years, 42 in rural schools.

The Chicago and North Western abandons its line from Rosholt to Eland.

Business leaders organize the Stevens Point Industrial Development Corporation.

The Wisconsin Lions Foundation establishes a summer camp for blind children at “Kiolbassa Lake” in Alban.

A tornado blowing from Bancroft to Fancher kills two people and injures two more.

School district reorganization continues; seven districts merge in Stevens Point after the Central State College Rural Demonstration School closes.

1957  The old county court house is razed to make room for the new building.

The county has 1,977 farms, mostly dairy farmers who tend 19,800 milk cows.

With about 75 irrigation units at work in the county, the Okray and Wysocki families drill the county’s first deep wells for irrigation.

Business people from Stevens Point, Marshfield and Wisconsin Rapids begin talks about joining with Wausau to build a “tri-county” airport. Stevens Point and Portage county people are willing, as are Wausau and Marathon county, but Wood county is not interested.

Dial telephone service begins at Stevens Point and parking meters are installed on the Public Square.

1958  Stevens Point celebrates its Centennial as a city.

The Wisconsin Interscholatic Athletic Association moves its headquarters to Stevens Point.

Okray Farms installs the first gravel pack irrigation well in the county; fifty other such wells are soon operating.

In support of the workers involved in the bitter strike at the Kohler Co., the Central Labor Council is successful in prohibiting the use of Kohler fixtures in the new city-county building.

Local television came to Portage County from Wausau in 1953.

1959  At Stevens Point, North Division Street is widened.
1960  County population: 36,964 ‘Robert F. Kennedy campaigns in the county and, with help from Portage County voters, John F. Kennedy is elected President.

The Polish-language publication, Rolnik halts.

1961  Local National Guardsmen are activated for the Berlin Crisis. ‘Plans are announced to replace the old Stevens Point post office with a modem facility.
1962  The “all area high school law” takes effect, mandating that all rural schools be included in a consolidated high school district.

The Amherst Telephone Co. begins dial service.

1963  The Supreme Court’s “one-man, one-vote” ruling forces the redistricting of county and municipal election districts. 

Dutch elm disease is detected at Stevens Point as a serious threat to the city’s 9,000 elms.

1964  The Wisconsin State College becomes the Wisconsin State University at Stevens Point.

Closed since 1957, the Lyric Theater, Stevens Point, is razed to make room for a new Woolworth’s store.

1965  Voters defeat a referendum to incorporate a village at Plover. 

The Jordan hydroelectric plant halts operations.

1966  At Nelsonville, the county’s last manually-operated telephone exchange is replaced by dial service. 

The Portage County Housing Authority is organized to provide housing for senior citizens.

The Del Monte Co. opens a large vegetable processing plant at Plover.

1967  The central Wisconsin Vocational Technical Adult Education District is organized.

Margery Albers begins the music curriculum that evolves into the American Suzuki Institute at Stevens Point.

With aid from organizations and individuals a total of 9,000 acres is set aside for prairie chicken habitat on the Buena Vista Marsh.

1968  Wisconsin State University students protest against American involvement in Vietnam and rally against a visit by Presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey to the campus.
1969  With two-thirds of its funding from Marathon County and one-third from Portage, the Central Wisconsin Airport opens at Mosinee.

Okray Farms installs the county’s first high clearance center pivot irrigator.

1970  County population: 47,541.

Wisconsin State University students protest the American bombing of Cambodia and the shooting of students by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio.

Fish contaminated with mercury are detected in the Wisconsin River and restrictions are placed on sport fishing.

A building trades union strike delays completion of the new Stevens Point Area High School.

1971  The new Stevens Point Area High School building welcomes its first students.

A high-rise housing facility opens for senior citizens on the river at Stevens Point.

Hardware Mutual changes its name to Sentry Insurance.

WSU professor George Becker predicts that increased use of irrigation will dry up county streams.

1972  Presidential candidate Hubert H. Humphrey visits the county and addresses farmers from atop a hay wagon in Arnott.
1973  The state purchases 5,100 acres to create the Dewey Marsh State Wildlife Area.

In response to the possibility that a nuclear power plant may be constructed near Rudolph, Naomi Jacobsen, Gertrude Dixon and others organize LAND, the League Against Nuclear Disaster.

1974  The Vietnam War ends; 14 county men die while in service.

A winter kill of 2,000 fish is reported on the Eau Pleine Reservoir.

The American Potato Company opens a processing plant in Plover.

Portage County purchases land and removes houses to create a park to protect Indian mounds at Lake Emily.

Quick Jumps: 1827, 1850, 1875, 1900, 1925, 1950, 1975


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