Time has been gentle to the Baraboo area; its vibrant history is evident in everything from its carefully maintained Victorian homes to the spectacular mile-thick layer of Baraboo quartzite that hugs the city. This glossy, pink rock (dating back 1.7 billion years) emerges in Devil’s Lake State Park, continues deep below the earth’s surface and then surfaces once again a few miles north of Baraboo, serving as a brilliant reminder of the historical richness that permeates the city.
According to one historical interpretation, Baraboo is named after a French trader and trapper who bartered with Native Americans near the mouth of a stream, which today bears his name. Initially, only the river was called Baraboo; the name later applied to the bluffs, the city and the town.
From the beginning, early settlers were attracted to Baraboo’s ideal location and abundant water supply. The lumber industry flourished upon the banks of the Baraboo River, and trading for the rich agricultural land surrounding the town soon followed, serving as a catalyst for Baraboo’s progressive growth. A charter election in 1866 created the Village of Baraboo; 16 years later, on April 1, 1882, Baraboo became a city by legislative action of the State of Wisconsin. Today, the City of Baraboo is the proud home of more than 12,000 people. Next door, the Village of West Baraboo is home to over 1,400 people. Together, Baraboo and West Baraboo boast a thriving tourism industry, wonderful homes and a wide range of recreational opportunities.