Wisconsin Towns and Places


Menomonie is the county seat for Dunn County, with a population of about 16,000. It is roughly halfway between Eau Claire and Hudson on the Mississippi River.

The city is on Lake Memomin. It is a reservoir created by a dam on the Red Cedar River. The name is derived from the Ojibwa, “Manoominikaani-zaaga'igan” meaning "Abundant with Wild Rice Lake."

The Red Cedar River is a tributary of the Chippewa.  It rises in southwestern Sawyer County and meets the Chippewa southeast of Dunnville. It is about 100 miles long.

The northern trailhead for the 14.5-mile Red Cedar River Trail is on the west side of Menomonie. It is a beautiful trail that connects with the Chippewa River Trail in the Dunnville Wildlife Area, itself a place to visit.

When talking about Menomonie, one should highlight Capt. Andrew Tainter, a pioneer and lumber baron in the area.  In 1889 he built what is now known as the Louis Smith Tainter House in Menomonie for his son, Louis, as a wedding gift. The Dunn County Historical Society  has written this,

“The mansion, south of the current Lake Menomin bridge, boasts an exterior of Dunnville sandstone, quarried just ten miles south of Menomonie. A slate roof with copper eaves and gutters originally capped the house. The roof has since been replaced with modern materials.

“The interior displays the wealth of the family and includes extensive use of various exotic woods, such as Honduran mahogany, sycamore, maple and birch.

The Society has noted the building “serves as a  welcoming point for friends and visitors to the University of Wisconsin-Stout … (It) houses the Stout Alumni Association and the Stout University Foundation.”

Capt. Tainter commissioned a building in the city's center to memorialize his daughter, Mabel, who died when she was only 19. She loved music and the arts. It, too, was constructed in 1889. It is one of the most recognized buildings in the city. It is now the Mabel Tainter Memorial Theater. It serves as a performing arts and cultural center. It is often referred to as “The Mabel.” It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

As indicated earlier, Menomonie is home to the University of Wisconsin (UW) - Stout. This photo shows Bowman Hall, the oldest building on the campus, which opened in 1887. It, too, is a landmark in the city and at the university.

UW-Stout is “Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University.” The university says  it is a “career-focused, technology-driven university” that stresses “learning by doing.”

James Huff Stout was a lumberman, businessman, politician, educator, and philanthropist. He served as a state senator. The Wisconsin Historical Society tells us this about him,

“Stout was interested in education, especially in the fields of manual training, domestic science and teacher training. He constructed the first building in Wisconsin devoted exclusively to manual training and domestic science. In 1897, he financed the construction of a larger manual-training building to replace the earlier one, which had been destroyed by fire. He then established the Stout Training School in 1903. 1908 it became Stout Institute, devoted to instructing manual training and domestic science teachers. Throughout his life, Stout guided the development of the school. He helped make it a model for other schools of education, and contributed large sums to provide it with a plant and faculty.”

This is the Wilson Place Museum. The Dunn County Historical Society says this about it,

“Home of the Wilson, Stout and LaPointe families -- three generations of Menomonie founding families -- the Wilson Place Mansion has a history as rich and colorful as that of Menomonie and Dunn County. Built-in 1859 by Captain William Wilson, it was originally a large colonial-style house with a pillared porch. Captain Wilson, was a principal in the Knapp, Stout & Co. Company, founder and first mayor of the city of Menomonie, and the area's first state senator. In 1875, he enclosed the 22-acre estate with a sandstone wall, part of which fronts the museum today.”

Menomonie’s Main Street is a national Downtown Historic District.  It hosts an impressive industrial base that includes 3M, Ford Motor, Walmart Distribution Center, ConAgra Foods-Swiss Miss, Cardinal FG, Andersen Windows, and Phillips Plastics Corporation.