May 29, 1848 – Wisconsin Joins the Union as the 30th State

The state of Wisconsin, wholly formed out of the Northwest Territories, was named after the Wisconsin River. “Wisconsin” means “grassy place” in the Chippewa language.


Wisconsin is known as The Badger State (thus the University of Wisconsin Badgers). This nickname originally referred to the lead miners of the 1830s, who worked at the Galena lead mines in Illinois. These mines were in northwestern Illinois close to the borders of Wisconsin and Iowa. The Wisconsin miners lived, not in houses, but in temporary caves cut into the hillsides. These caves were described as badger dens and, the miners who lived in them, as badgers. This nickname was brought back to Wisconsin by these miners. Eventually, the nickname was applied to all of the people of Wisconsin and, finally, to the state itself. The badger was adopted as Wisconsin’s state animal in 1957.


Wisconsin is also known as The Dairy State, The Cheese State, and The Cholesterol State (well, no one we know except for us uses that last nickname).

Contrary to popular understanding, the lyrics of “On Wisconsin” are not:

On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin!
Da da da da da!
Da da da da da da da da!
Da da da da da!

Rather, they are as follows:

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!

Grand old badger state!

We, thy loyal sons and daughters,

Hail thee, good and great.

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!

Champion of the right,

“Forward”, our motto

God will give thee might!”

Wisconsin is full of natural beauty, and there is also a standout feature in the man-made wonders department:

The Quadracci Pavilion is a sculptural, postmodern addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum completed in 2001, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The hall’s chancel is shaped like the prow of a ship, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking over Lake Michigan. The signature wings, the Burke Brise Soleil, form a moveable sunscreen with a 217-foot wingspan. The entire structure weighs 90 tons. It takes 3.5 minutes for the wings to open or close, which happens Tuesday through Sunday around noon.

It is truly a Wonder of Wisconsin worth seeing.

Those who live in Wisconsin have their own way of speaking. If you plan to go there, you might want to bone up on “speaking ‘Scansin.” As an example, Wisconsinites call water fountains “bubblers,” pronounce “milk” like “melk” and will recognize you as a “foreigner” immediately if you voice the “il” in Milwaukee.


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