Though Eagle River’s growth and development began in the 1880s with the advent of the railroad in the area, the community was settled far before then. Current-day Eagle River was home to the Old Copper Indians’ first permanent Indian settlement in the Northwoods. In 1853, Bethuel Draper and “Dutch Pete” Cramer arrived in the area. It is believed these two were responsible for naming Eagle River—due to the abundance of eagles nesting along the river.
The settlement began to grow, welcoming new families in the late 1850s. Notable settlers include John O’Connor and his son, George, who are recognized among the leading founding fathers of Eagle River.
In the earlier years, logging and fur trading were among the dominant trades in Eagle River (which was incorporated as a Village in 1922 and a City in 1939)—that is, until the resort industry experienced a surge in growth in 1925.
Since then, the tourism industry has continued to lead the way in Eagle River commerce. The community’s history can still be experienced at numerous historical structures as well as at the Eagle River Historical Society Museum, located in the restored Railroad Depot in the Downtown area.