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Lincoln County was created by the Wisconsin Legislature on March 4, 1874, with a population of 895, and land area of 2,750,000 acres. At that time Lincoln County included most of present day Oneida and Vilas Counties, as well as parts of present day Langlade, Taylor, Price and Iron Counties. Lincoln County reached its present size in 1885.

The early progress of Lincoln County is synonymous with the growth of the logging industry. The pines and virgin hardwood forests attracted loggers from far and wide. As operations grew, settlements sprang up bringing the need for stores and other business places. In clearing the forest, the lumbermen were opening the way for the farmer.

Encompassing almost 900 square miles, or 576,000 acres, in north central Wisconsin, Lincoln County ranks 21st in size among the State's 72 counties. The population (2011) is 28,668. Lincoln County has 2 major cities -- Merrill and Tomahawk -- with Merrill serving as the County seat. There are 16 townships in the County ranging in size from Corning's 92,690 acres to Scott's 20,890 acres. The Town of Corning, ranks 12th in size among all towns in the State of Wisconsin.

The City of Merrill was named for S.S. Merrill, then the General Manager of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. In 1882 the first courthouse was built for $5,700.00; later housed the Lincoln County Teachers College; and was razed in 1968. The present courthouse was completed in 1903 for a total of $119,881.85, and was entered on the National Register of Historic Places on April 19, 1978. Over the years the courthouse has been through many restoration and repair projects, with the latest one completed January 2011 at a cost of $1,927,167.00.

The City of Tomahawk was incorporated in 1891. The pulp and paper industry played a large part in the City's history as it continues to do at the present time. Within the City, Bradley Park, named for the father of the City, William H. Bradley, covers over 100 acres of land, heavily wooded with virgin pine. Tomahawk lies in the heart of Wisconsin's vacationland.

Annual precipitation averages 32 inches, spread quite evenly throughout the year. Winter snowfall averages 47 inches. Tomahawk has an elevation of 1,496 feet above sea level; Merrill at 1,263 feet.

Total retail sales in Lincoln County are more than $289.5M annually (2007 Census data). Effective buying income amounts to $522.9M annually; effective household median buying income (after taxes) is $37,201 (Sales and Marketing Management Magazine, 2008 Survey of Buying Power.

Lincoln County has over 1,100 miles of public streets and roads. It has 152 named lakes and 577 unnamed lakes, totaling 15,585 acres. There are 246 streams in the County, 668 miles in length, with 395 miles designated as trout stream.

The Wisconsin River, with five dams now located in the County, is the life stream of the County. Highway 107, awarded the National Natural Beauty Award, winds its way along the river from Merrill to Tomahawk, and is part of the Northwoods Colorama Tours which begin in September.

Gleason, named "Trout Capital of the World," is located near the Prairie River that flows into the Wisconsin River further south at Merrill.

Lincoln County has 11 private campgrounds (512 sites), 3 County campgrounds (43 sites), Council Grounds State Park (55 sites), and many resorts.

Chippewa Indians who traveled by canoe down the Wisconsin River for annual councils and festivals gave Council Grounds State Park its name. Located on the River just west of Merrill, the land was given to the State by the City of Merrill in 1938 to be preserved for all.

Winter recreation is available with 22 miles of cross-country ski trails on County forest lands, 315 miles of maintained snowmobile trails, and 200 miles of winter ATV trails. For summer don't forget about the 45 miles of summer ATV trails. And then there are the many lakes and recreation opportunities they provide to be enjoyed all year round.

Registered landmarks in Lincoln County are:
  • Center Ave. Historic District, listed 1994
  • First St. Bridge (The Three Arch Stone Bridge), listed 1996
  • Lincoln County Courthouse, listed 1978
  • Merrill City Hall - 2nd St., listed 1978
  • Merrill Post Office, listed 2000
  • Otter Spring House, listed 1999
  • TB Scott Free Library, listed 1978
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