Independence, Wisconsin

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Independence is a city in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 1,244 at the 2000 census. It is located at the confluence of Elk Creek and the Trempealeau River.



Unless otherwise noted, the history below is taken from Gamroth (1976).

Independence is in the Town of Burnside, which corresponds with one of the townships created under the Land Ordinance of 1785. Shortly after the naming of Burnside in 1863, settlers from Europe and the eastern U.S. began arriving in significant numbers.

The city of Independence owes its existence to a railroad and a man named David M. Kelly. Running almost parallel to the Trempealeau River is the Green Bay and Western Railroad, which is part of a line originally intended to run from Green Bay, Wisconsin to Wabasha, Minnesota. Kelly was an enthusiastic promoter of building a depot for the new line in Burnside.

After much disagreement and dispute over its location, Green Bay and Lake Pepin (as the company was then known) agreed to build a depot if $5,000 could be raised by the residents to finance construction. The money was raised, and Kelly bought the land for the depot in 1876. He founded a village on the land and named it Independence in honor of the nation’s centennial of independence. The village was incorporated in 1885 and became a city in 1942.

Independence has outlived the depot that was once at its heart. The line began at Green Bay but eventually reached Winona, Minnesota instead of Wabasha. Passenger service was never very profitable. Under the inexorable pressure of the automobile, passenger service ended in 1949, but freight trains still use the line today.


Independence is located at 44°21′30″N 91°25′20″W / 44.35833°N 91.42222°W / 44.35833; -91.42222 (44.358425, -91.422217)[3].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.3 square miles (3.4 km²), of which, 1.3 square miles (3.3 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (3.05%) is water. It is within the Driftless Zone of the Midwest.

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