The city was named for the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway, a portage between the Wisconsin and Fox rivers. The lowlands between these rivers served as a natural portage for both Native Americans and eventually French fur traders, who dubbed the area as "le portage." This label ultimately led to the name of the city.
Its location naturally led the community to become a center of commerce for the region. The eventual construction of a canal and railroad tracks through the city helped it to continue to operate in this capacity for decades. The canal linked the city with the Great Lakes. By the 1840s, an industrial and commercial center had developed along this canal. Although the canal was shut down in the 1950s, the city's business district remained in this location.
More than eight public schools and two private schools offer education to local students. These schools teach students of all levels from kindergarten up through the end of high school. Higher education is available at numerous institutions within 60 miles of town, including the University of Wisconsin - Madison, the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh, the Universirty of Wisconsin- Stevens Point and the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater as well as a number of technical colleges.
Divine Savior Healthcare is a local medical center that serves the region's residents. Portage also has its own municipal airport for small aircraft traffic.
Portage offers 15 city parks that contain athletic fields & courts, picnic areas, playgrounds, nature trails and boat landings along the water.
Boating is popular on the Wisconsin River. Other popular water areas are Lake Wisconsin and Castle Rock Lake. Anglers can also fish in the river. Try to reel in a smallmouth bass, walleye, panfish or muskie. Avid golfers have a number of courses to choose from in and around Portage. The 18-hole Portage Country Club and 9-hole Saddle Ridge Golf Club are within the city limits. Coldwater Canyon Golf Course and Spring Brook Golf Resort are available nearby.
Once the temperature drops, locals head for the skiing at Cascade Mountain, which is only four miles outside of town. Some of the 36 trails are steep and challenging, while others are lengthy, gradual slopes that are ideal for beginners.
If you want to see a piece of Portage's legacy with your own eyes, check out the historic Surgeon's Quarters. This log structure is the only remaining piece of famous Fort Winnebago and was built by French settlers before 1824. It has been refurbished and contains artifacts that came from the original fort.
Average high temperatures in Portage reach just 81 degrees Fahrenheit in July, and average lows dip to 6 degrees in January.
This is only the beginning of what you can experience in and around Portage. Ready to learn more? Contact us right away, and we'll start working to find the perfect property for you.