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Black River Falls is a city in Jackson Countymarker, Wisconsinmarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 3,618 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Jackson Countymarker.

The Ho-Chunk Nation has its administrative center in Black River Falls.


Black River Falls was founded to utilize the waterpower of the Black River. As the area was predominantly forest at the time, its primary use was in operating sawmills. Some of the lumber produced was used in the construction of the Mormon temple at Nauvoo, Illinoismarker.

A large monument to Black River Falls' veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, as well as to local Medal of Honor winner Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr., was erected near the Chamber of Commerce Building at 101 S. 2nd Street. Named the "Field of Honor", the attached plaques provide accounts of the veterans' services. This site is also the start of the four-mile (6.5 km) Foundation Trail, a signed hiking and bike path that circles the eastern part of the community.


Black River Falls is located at (44.297166, -90.849263) . According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.4 km²), of which, 3.2 square miles (8.2 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (3.08%) is water.

The city is located on the falls of the Black River at the northeast edge of the Driftless Area, where the river cuts through a region of granite. The falls are covered by a hydroelectric dam, forming the 200-acre Black River Flowage.


As of the census of 2000, there were 3,618 people, 1,563 households, and 886 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,146.4 people per square mile (442.1/km²). There were 1,679 housing units at an average density of 532.0/sq mi (205.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.37% White, 0.19% African American, 4.73% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.55% from other races, and 0.97% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.16% of the population.

There were 1,563 households out of which 25.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.4% were married couples living together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.3% were non-families. 38.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.82.

In the city the population was spread out with 20.8% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 24.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 87.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,555, and the median income for a family was $46,222. Males had a median income of $31,481 versus $18,519 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,532. About 3.7% of families and 7.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.4% of those under age 18 and 10.4% of those age 65 or over.


While the logging and lumber industry is still present in the area, the current economy leans heavily on agriculture and tourism. Several locations support the tourism industry. Lake Arbutus, a 839-acre impoundment of the river, lies several miles northeast, as does the multi-use Levis/Trow trail systemmarker. Black River Falls is home to a casino and hotel operated by the Ho-Chunk Nation. Much of the surrounding land is part of the Black River State Forest


City Hall, located at 101 S. 2nd St, houses the mayor, Ron Danielson, the city clerk/treasurer, the Parks and Recreation Department, and the Police Department. Offices for Jackson County are located on Main Street.


Old High School
Black River Falls High School, the city's public high school located on the southwestern edge of town, is administered by the Black River Falls School District. The former high school, in the center of the city, has been converted to apartments. Western Technical College offers classes in the city.


Despite its size, Black River Falls has two newspapers, both published weekly: the Banner-Journal and the Jackson County Chronicle.

WWIS Radio operates the only radio stations in Black River Falls: WWIS 1260AM and WWIS 99.7FM. The AM station operates only during daytime hours.


Black River Falls is the focus of Michael Lesy's book Wisconsin Death Trip (1973), which used photographs and newspaper cuttings to highlight the harshness of life in the community during the late nineteenth century and the effects it had on the psychology of the inhabitants. The book was made into a film in 2000, which included images from the community as it appears today. However the claim that all the stories took place in and around Black River Falls is false. Many/ majority of the stories origins are from all over the state and not just this one city.

The Black River Falls area is home to a large population of the endangered Karner Blue butterfly. The city celebrates with the Karner Blue Butterfly Festival held annually on the second Saturday of July.


The primary artery of transportation for Black River Falls is Interstate 94, which passes through the eastern edge of the city. US Highway 12, Wisconsin Highway 27, and Wisconsin Highway 54 also pass through the city.

The Union Pacific Railroad is adjacent to the city, but does not pass through the center.

Notable people

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