Ashland is a city in Ashland and Bayfield counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The city is a port on Lake Superior, near the head of Chequamegon Bay. The population was 8,216 at the 2010 census, all of which resided in the Ashland County portion of the city. The tiny unpopulated Bayfield County portion is located in the city's southwest, bordered by the easternmost part of the Town of Eileen.
Four flags have flown over the area around Ashland: Spanish, French, English and American. Eight Indian nations have lived on Chequamegon Bay. Later settlers included European explorers, missionaries and fur traders, and more recently, Yankees who platted and developed the lands, railroaders, shippers, loggers, entrepreneurs, and other settlers. The area was part of the Northwest Territory and was subsequently part of four successive territories before becoming part of the state of Wisconsin: Indiana Territory, Michigan Territory, Illinois Territory, and Wisconsin Territory.
About the time Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World, the Ojibwe people came to the land they called Sha-ga-waun-il-ong. This term has been translated numerous ways: "lowlands", the "needle", "the region of shallow water", and where "there are large extended breakers". Each is descriptive and suitably accurate.
The Ojibwe stayed on Chequamegon Point for about a century before leaving, first to settle on Madeline Island and then to move to the Sault region.
French fur traders Pierre d'Esprit, le Sieur Radisson and Medard Chouart, le Sieur des Groseillers were the first Europeans of record to visit Chequamegon Bay. They arrived in 1659 and built what has been called the first European dwelling place in Wisconsin. A historical marker is located at Maslowski Beach on U.S. Route 2 on the west end of Ashland. The monument was erected in 1929 by the Old Settlers Club.
The Ojibwe heartily welcomed the Frenchmen. Five years later, Father Claude-Jean Allouez arrived. A Jesuit missionary, he brought the first word of Christianity to Wisconsin's shores. Allouez built a chapel not far from Radisson's and Groseillier's stockade and remained at the Bay until 1669.
In 1854, Ohioans Asaph Whittlesey and George Kilborn set out from La Pointe to explore the head of Chequamegon Bay. Whittlesey built a 10 ft (3.0 m) 14 ft (4.3 m) cabin in Ashland. His wife, Lucy, and daughter, Eugenia, joined him in August and prepared to winter in their new home. Signs of civilization quickly followed. The first community dance was held at their house. The Reverend L.H. Wheeler preached the first sermon on the first Independence Day that was observed there. It was the location of the first post office and polling place for county offices. Sunday school was also conducted on the premises.
Other dates of note:
The harbor of Ashland is dominated by the massive Wisconsin Central Railway (later Soo Line) ore dock, built in 1916 to load iron ore mined in the area into freighters bound for ports in the Rust Belt. The last of what were once many such docks, the concrete structure is 80 feet (24 m) high and 75 feet (23 m) wide and in 1925 the dock was extended to 1,800 feet (550 m); it was last used to ship ore in 1965. In 2007 the Wisconsin Trust for Historic Preservation named it one of the "10 most endangered historic buildings in Wisconsin", a list intended to stir preservation efforts. The main concrete structure and trestle slowly deteriorated since the early 1970s because of lack of maintenance and the effects of the environment. A structural inspection completed in 2006 and 2007 concluded that the ore dock had become structurally unsafe and was an imminent safety hazard. On May 14, 2009, the Ashland Planning Commission granted Canadian National Railway approval for the demolition. All material on the ore dock was to be removed down to the concrete base. This was completed in 2013. Some hope that the base will be kept to protect the harbor against large waves.
Ashland is located along the south shore of Chequamegon Bay. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.70 square miles (35.48 km2), of which 13.42 square miles (34.76 km2) is land and 0.28 square miles (0.73 km2) is water.
As of the census of 2010, there were 8,216 people, 3,516 households, and 1,942 families residing in the city. The population density was 612.2 inhabitants per square mile (236.4 /km2). There were 3,864 housing units at an average density of 287.9 per square mile (111.2 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 87.0% White, 0.5% African American, 7.5% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 4.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.1% of the population.
There were 3,516 households of which 26.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.7% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 44.8% were non-families. 36.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.81.
The median age in the city was 38.6 years. 21% of residents were under the age of 18; 13% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.1% were from 25 to 44; 26.7% were from 45 to 64; and 16.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.2% male and 51.8% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 8,620 people, 3,513 households, and 2,027 families residing in the city. The population density was 643.3 people per square mile (248.4/km ). There were 3,777 housing units at an average density of 108.8 persons/km (281.9 persons/sq mi). The racial makeup of the city was 90.17% White, 0.32% African American, 6.30% Native American, 0.49% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.43% from other races, and 2.23% from two or more races. 1.37% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 3,513 households out of which 28.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.5% were married couples living together, 11.7% have a woman whose husband does not live with her, and 42.3% were non-families. 35.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.91.
In the city the population was spread out with 22.2% under the age of 18, 15.4% from 18 to 24, 24.7% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 91.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,853, and the median income for a family was $40,549. Males had a median income of $30,122 versus $20,926 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,330. About 7.5% of families and 12.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.9% of those under the age of 18 and 10.0% ages 65 or older.
Ashland has a mayor-council form of government. Debra Lewis was the first woman elected mayor in the 2014 election. The city's 11 wards are each represented by an elected alderperson (or councilor). City council meetings are held on the second and last Tuesday of the month. Meetings are open to the public, although on occasion the Council may meet in closed session.
Ashland City Hall, which was built in 1893, was originally used as the city's first post office. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the "Old Ashland Post Office". The County Courthouse is also located in the city.
A few largest manufacturers in the community include:
Many small businesses also make up a large portion of the local economy. Tourism is an important part of the area's commerce.
Stations serving Ashland come from the Duluth market:
The two major highways in the city are U.S. Highway 2 and Wisconsin Highway 13. The city is one of the northern termini in Wisconsin for the Canadian National Railway, parent company of the former Wisconsin Central Ltd., which assumed the former Soo Line tracks in 1987.
Airports certified for carrier operations near Ashland:
Other public-use airports near Ashland:
Local transportation is provided by the non-profit Bay Area Rural Transit (BART) system, which has bus stops throughout the community. Headquartered in Ashland's Industrial Park, BART also provides transportation to and from other communities in the Chequamegon Bay region, including Washburn, and Bayfield.
The region is served by the Chequamegon Bay Arts Council, a non-profit organization promoting the arts in northern Wisconsin.
The Ashland Chamber Music Society is a volunteer organization that provides a venue for local and regional musicians to perform chamber music in the Ashland area.
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