Rhinelander, Wisconsin

Rhinelander, Wisconsin
Looking east at downtown Rhinelander with view of the Oneida County Courthouse dome

Location of Rhinelander in Oneida County, Wisconsin.
Location of city in Wisconsin / United States
Rhinelander (the US)
Coordinates: 45°38′22″N 89°24′44″W / 45.63944°N 89.41222°W / 45.63944; -89.41222Coordinates: 45°38′22″N 89°24′44″W / 45.63944°N 89.41222°W / 45.63944; -89.41222
Country United States
State Wisconsin
County Oneida
  Total 8.61 sq mi (22.30 km2)
  Land 8.34 sq mi (21.60 km2)
  Water 0.27 sq mi (0.70 km2)
Elevation[2] 1,549 ft (472 m)
Population (2010)[3]
  Total 7,798
  Estimate (2016)[4] 7,589
  Density 935.0/sq mi (361.0/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC−6)
  Summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
Zip Code 54501
Area code(s) 715 & 534
FIPS code 55-67200[5]
GNIS feature ID 1572231[2]
Website www.ci.rhinelander.wi.gov

Rhinelander is a city in and the county seat of Oneida County,[6] Wisconsin, United States. The population was 7,798 at the 2010 census.


The area that eventually became the city of Rhinelander was originally called Pelican Rapids by early settlers, named for the stretch of rapids just above the convergence of the Wisconsin and Pelican Rivers. Around 1870, Anderson W. Brown of Stevens Point and Anson P. Vaughn traveled up the Wisconsin River in order to cruise timber for Brown's father, E. D. Brown. Upon arriving at the meeting point of the Wisconsin and Pelican Rivers at the site of John Curran's trading post, and seeing the high banks along the rapids and the excellent pine stands, Anderson Brown envisioned a mill town with a lumber mill powered by the waters of the Wisconsin River. Brown's vision would not come to fruition for some years, however after subsequent expeditions with others including his brother and Rhinelander's first mayor, Webster Brown, the brothers managed to convince their father and uncle to purchase the land from the federal government and build a town. In its charter, the city was named Rhinelander after Frederic W. Rhinelander of New York, who was president of the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Road at the time.[7] This was part of a bid by the Brown brothers to induce the railroad to extend a spur to the location to further their lumbering business. Ultimately, after over ten years of negotiations, the Brown family agreed to convey half their land holdings in the area to the railroad in exchange for a rail line to their future city. In 1882, the railroad line from present-day Monico to Rhinelander was completed, jump starting the development of Rhinelander as the commercial hub of the region.[8]


Rhinelander is located at 45°38′22″N 89°24′44″W / 45.63944°N 89.41222°W / 45.63944; -89.41222 (45.639515, −89.412086).[9]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.61 square miles (22.30 km2), of which, 8.34 square miles (21.60 km2) is land and 0.27 square miles (0.70 km2) is water.[1]


Historical population
Est. 20167,589[4]−2.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]

2010 census

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 7,798 people, 3,545 households, and 1,876 families residing in the city. The population density was 935.0 inhabitants per square mile (361.0/km2). There were 3,981 housing units at an average density of 477.3 per square mile (184.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.2% White, 1.0% African American, 1.2% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.3% of the population.

There were 3,545 households of which 26.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.6% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 47.1% were non-families. 39.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.10 and the average family size was 2.79.

The median age in the city was 40 years. 21.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25% were from 25 to 44; 25% were from 45 to 64; and 19.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.0% male and 53.0% female.

2000 census

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 7,735 people, 3,214 households, and 1,860 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,002.5 people per square mile (386.9/km2). There were 3,430 housing units at an average density of 444.5 per square mile (171.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.83% White, 0.39% African American, 0.96% Native American, 0.32% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 0.23% from other races, and 1.15% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.72% of the population.

There were 3,214 households out of which 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.2% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.1% were non-families. 36.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the city, the population was spread out with 23.4% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 20.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 84.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,622, and the median income for a family was $37,629. Males had a median income of $29,750 versus $22,157 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,047. About 9.4% of families and 12.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.1% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over.



Rhinelander is a commercial, industrial and recreation hub for the Northwoods area of Wisconsin. Because of the forests, lakes and trails in the area, it is both a summer and winter vacation destination. It has a paper mill and a hospital.


Major highways

BUS US 8 serves the city of Rhinelander.
U.S. 8 runs eastbound to Crandon, Wisconsin. Westbound, US 8 routes to Prentice, Wisconsin.
WIS 17 travels north to Eagle River, Wisconsin and south to Merrill, Wisconsin. This route is on the eastern side of Rhinelander.
WIS 47 runs north to Woodruff, Wisconsin and runs south to Antigo, Wisconsin.


Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport (KRHI) serves Rhinelander and the surrounding Oneida county communities with both scheduled commercial jet service and general aviation services. Located two miles southwest of the city, the airport handles approximately 24,860 operations per year, with approximately 88% general aviation, 6% scheduled commercial air service and 6% air taxi. The airport has a 6,799-ft. concrete runway with approved ILS, GPS and VOR/DME approaches (Runway 9-27) and a 5,201-ft. asphalt crosswind runway with approved GPS approaches (Runway 15-33). In addition, the Rhinelander VORTAC (RHI) navigational facility is located at the field.[11]


The Rhinelander area has numerous vacation destinations, offering fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, ATVing, mountain biking and hiking, hunting, golfing, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and bird watching. It also serves as a main shopping and lodging area for the Northwoods. A popular Summer tourist destination is the Pioneer Park Historical Complex which is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend and features many interactive displays and spaces to explore Rhinelanders rich history, including the infamous hodag.


Rhinelander is home to NBC affiliate WJFW-TV. In addition to serving Rhinelander, WJFW-TV also serves the Wausau area. Conversely, Wausau's area stations, including CBS affiliate WSAW-TV and ABC affiliate WAOW, also serve Rhinelander. WXPR, a public radio station at 91.7 FM, is based in Rhinelander.


Rhinelander is the home of the Hodag, a folkloric green and white creature said to stalk the local woods. The Hodag serves as mascot for the city and for Rhinelander High School and Northwoods Community Secondary School.

  • The Rhinelander Flea Market is held every Wednesday between Labor Day and Memorial Day by the ice arena.
  • An arts and cultural center is in the former Federal Building downtown. ArtStart Art Gallery artstartrhinelander.org
  • There is an annual Christmas parade on the day after Thanksgiving in the downtown. Santa Claus is among the parade participants.
  • Rhinelander is home to the Hodag Country Festival, a country music festival.
  • Oneida County Fair
  • Oktoberfest
  • Potato Fest


  • ArtStart Art Museum
  • CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Museum
  • Logging Museum
  • Rhinelander Historical Society Museum
  • Rhinelander School Museum




  • Northwood Golf Course
  • Rhinelander Country Club

Notable people


  1. 1 2 "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  2. 1 2 "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  3. 1 2 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  4. 1 2 "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  5. 1 2 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  7. Chicago and North Western Railway Company (1908). A History of the Origin of the Place Names Connected with the Chicago & North Western and Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railways. p. 117.
  8. Olsen, T. V. (1983). Birth of a City. Rhinelander, Wisconsin: Pineview Publishing.
  9. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  10. "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  11. "AirNAV - KRHI", AirNAV.com, accessed Sept 14, 2015.
  12. Doug Sterner. "MOH Citation for Deming Bronson". homeofheroes.com.
  13. Nicolet College-Elizabeth Burmaster named new president of Nicolet College
  14. "Darrell Einertson Statistics and History - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  15. Eau Claire Leader Telegram-obituaries-Rita Gross
  16. "Walt Kichefski". Pro-Football-Reference.com.
  17. Garcia, Ana (1 November 2016). "-'VAMPCHICK' DISCUSSES DOUBLE MURDER FROM BEHIND BARS". Crime Watchers. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  18. 'Wisconsin Blue Book 1933,' Biographical Sketch of Neil McEachin, pg. 234
  19. Lawrence Kestenbaum. "The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Okeefer to Olchin". politicalgraveyard.com.
  20. "Richard J. Saykally". University of California-Berkeley. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
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