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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"

Chapter  7  - Townships

by Frank L. Clark

Washington Township

(-As transcribed from pages 40 - 41)

Washington Township is rectangular in shape, but irregular in outline and contains sixty-six square miles. It was set off in January 1866, and is bounded on the north by the city of Eau Claire and the town of Seymour, on the south by the towns of Clear Creek and Otter Creek, on the est by the town of Lincoln and on the west by the city of Eau Claire and the town of Brunswick. Otter creek runs through the town from the extreme southeast to the extreme northwest, and Low's creek waters the western portion of it.  It has a population, according to the census returns of 1910, of 1,489, exclusive of the city of Altoona, which has 824. This place was originally East Eau Claire, and was surveyed and platted as a village with that name, in September, 1881. It was afterwards changed to Altoona, and incorporated as a city in 1887. It is located on the Eau Claire river and Otter creek and is distant four miles east from the city of Eau Claire. There were only two houses here in 1882 when the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha railway selected it as the site for machine shops and the roundhouse. As these buildings were constructed the population rapidly increased, and in the Fall of that year at least a dozen habitations had been erected. In the following year hotels, stores and residences went up in all directions. A postoffice was established, a union frame church was erected in 1884 and the graded school house with three departments.

Since 1884 Altoona has experienced a steady and prosperous growth; new people have come in, churches of all denominations have been established; improved schools have been erected, and while it may be styled one of the smallest cities in the United States, it is nevertheless a hustling business place which promises to improve with rapidity with the addition of its transportation facilities of the interurban railway line from Eau Claire, which has recently been completed. Originally what is now the Omaha Railway Company, in 1880 deemed it essential to locate a division point at some place nearly equidistant between Saint Paul and Elroy. They were urged to make that point Eau Claire. This they claimed they could not do, as it would make the eastern division much longer than the western. They had purchased the land necessary at Fall Creek and had commenced operations. The citizens of Eau Claire realized that this was detrimental to its prosperity. W. F. Bailey took the matter up with Mr. Porter, president of the road, the latter agreeing if a suitable place having a half mile of level track was nearer Eau Claire, and other conditions suitable, he would consider a proposition to locate the division there. Mr. Johnson, the company's engineer, and Mr. Bailey went over the line and place where Altoona is located and found suitable. If an abundance of a suitable water could be found and the city of Eau Claire would grade the yards Mr. Porter agreed to locate there.  Water was found, the city paying the expense. Subsequently it was agreed  that the company would grade the yard, the city paying in lieu of grading $2,000.

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