About La Crosse County
La Crosse County is home to 118,274 residents, located in the Driftless Region of southwestern Wisconsin where the mighty Mississippi, Black, and La Crosse Rivers meet, and lies within the boundaries of the ancestral land of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Known as the Coulee Region, the land was not reshaped by Holocene glaciation events and therefore boasts stunning valleys and towering bluffs that provide ample recreational opportunities like trout fishing on the 236 miles of trout stream, kayaking and canoeing in the rivers and lakes, hiking and biking on the 963 acres of parks and forests, and camping on one of more than 400 sites in the two County campgrounds. La Crosse County offers great sense of community, with an active and engaged population including a vibrant art scene, live music and performance, and diverse community festivals and events. For more information about community events, link to https://www.explorelacrosse.com/ for more information.
La Crosse County is home to three post-secondary educational institutions and two major medical centers. Educational services, health care, and social assistance is the top industry in the county followed by retail trade; arts/entertainment/recreation, and manufacturing.
While riverboats travel the Mississippi with stops at the Port of La Crosse, La Crosse Regional Airport provides service to the area with flights to and from Chicago, Minneapolis, and Detroit. Amtrak Empire Builder Route runs each day providing access to Chicago and Minneapolis. Interstate 90 runs through La Crosse County, providing easy access to the capital city, Madison, as well as Minneapolis/St. Paul in Minnesota.
The region was first inhabited by the people of the Ho-Chunk Nation. While the Ho-Chunk people were forcibly relocated by the United States Government in the 19th century due to colonization, many remaining tribal members returned to parts of their homeland in the 1870s and their families remain here today.
La Crosse County has experienced waves of immigration since the 1800s starting with French fur traders. The first permanent establishment was built by Nathan Myrick in 1941 and European Americans began settling in Prairie La Crosse, now known as La Crosse. Because of easy transportation via railroad and waterway, low taxes, and friendly policies toward immigrants, settlers moved to La Crosse beginning with Swiss Mormons in 1844 (who moved to Texas a few years later), Germans in 1850, followed by people from Norway and the Netherlands. Like other regions, La Crosse County became home to numerous African American families after the end of the Civil War. George Coleman Pogue, who participated in the Olympic Games of 1904, and George Edwin Taylor, the first African American to run for president in 1904, are two of the most well-known historical African American figures from the area. Most recently, Hmong refugees relocated to La Crosse County in the late 1970s through the early 1980s, contributing to the warm and vibrant culture of La Crosse County.
La Crosse County was established as a government in 1851 and today is governed by 29 county board supervisors who oversee seven standing committees: Veterans, Aging and Long Term Care; Health and Human Services; Judiciary and Law; Planning, Resources and Development; Public Works and Infrastructure; and Executive. Tara Johnson has served as the County Board Chair since 2011 and Steve O’Malley has been the County Administrator since 2003. County Board elections are held every two years.
The government of La Crosse County employs almost 1,300 people in many types of positions including mechanics, nurses, social workers, technology, jail staff, nursing assistants, maintenance, administrative professionals, public health workers, attorneys, and deputies.
In 2018, the Government of La Crosse County received over $143 million for public services. State and Federal operating grants, along with contributions comprise over $35 million and are designated, in part, for human services, court operations, public safety, solid waste, health, aging, libraries, and general government. Over $34 million dollars were collected in property taxes – almost 24% of the total revenue sources. More than $54 million was collected in charges for services and almost $13 million was collected in sales tax. Over $7 million dollars was received from a variety of sources such as grants, contributions, interest and disposal of property or equipment.
Some of the exceptional services include:
Size and Location
La Crosse County is located in the Southwestern part of Wisconsin where the Mississippi, Black, and La Crosse Rivers meet. The Black River empties into the world famous Mississippi River north of the city, and the La Crosse River flows into the Mississippi just north of the downtown area. La Crosse County is comprised of 307,274 acres and is 480 square miles in size. The county is 25 miles at its widest point and 25 miles at its longest point.
In 2015, La Crosse County had a population of 118,274 which is projected to grow by 5 percent and be 122,764 in 2025. There are two cities, four villages, and 12 towns within the La Crosse County. The City of La Crosse is the largest city in the county with a population of 51,818.
The government of La Crosse County is proud of its innovative and collaborative culture which is reflected in the logo. The logo is contemporary in design yet pays homage to our past. The double curve is taken from the former county seal, the year of origin represents the past, the curve of the seal arcs upward toward the LC, representing progress and forward movement, the blocks represent strength and stability, and the soft green suggest the abundant natural beauty of La Crosse County.