The historic town of Portage is an ideal place to raise a family or retire to. The small town boasts charming neighborhoods and growing commercial and retail industries. Located in a prime location near the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers, the scenic town is relaxing and welcoming. Downtown Portage features a wide variety of local restaurants, shops and unique stores close to the beautiful canal walking trails. There are several nationally known establishments in the area as well.
Portage is the seat of Columbia County. The many parks in the area offer options for outdoor recreation. Residents are often found running, biking or walking through the area's trails. Portage apartments for rent are perfect for individuals seeking a high quality life without the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolitan area.
According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Portage has been steadily increasing in the past two decades. Today, more than 10,300 residents call the quaint community home.
Located between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers, Portage was first settled by Indians, missionaries, trappers, traders and adventurers taking advantage of the resources. In Portage, one river flows north to St. Lawrence, and the other one runs south to the Mississippi, and they are separated by a narrow stretch of land. The settlement began to prosper in this area and was originally called Wau-wau-onah. During the French occupation it was called "le portage," later changed to just Portage.
The first settlers to visit Portage were Fr. Jaques Marquette and Louis Joliet in 1673 when they were searching the upper Mississippi, followed by Hennepin and Duluth, and Perrot, LeSeuer and Carver. Lauant Barth arrived in 1792 and was the first permanent settler in Portage. In 1824, the Prairie de Chien headquarters of the American Fur Company hired Pierre Pauquette, who was of French and Indian descent. He was able to speak to both the Indian and white men and become a vital part of the government.
By the end of the Blackhawk War, European immigrants flooded Wisconsin because of its cheap land. When the lumbering industry began to prosper, many woodsmen and river men were attracted to Portage. After some time, agriculture reigned over the lumber industry.
There is a diverse workforce in Portage, making it easy for individuals to find a job in the area they prefer. Divine Savior Healthcare, Assoc. Milk Producers, Wal-Mart Associates, Penda Corp, and Saint-Gobain Performance are among the top employers in Columbia County.
Students living in apartments in Portage have a few options for post-secondary education in the area. Madison Area Technical College and University of Wisconsin System are both close by. The University of Wisconsin System is one of the largest public school systems in the country, with 181,000 students in 13 four-year universities.
Living in Portage is moderately priced considering the scenic community and rich recreational amenities. According to Best Places, the overall cost of living is on par with the national average, food is 4 points higher and utilities are a point higher. Similarly, the average cost of rentals in Portage is fairly inexpensive. According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median gross rent is $656.
The rich history in Portage is still prevalent in many of the area's attractions. Fort Winnebago Surgeon's Quarters, Indian Agency House, Industrial Waterfront District and Museum at the Portage are just a few of the most-visited attractions. The historic Indian Agency House was built in 1832 and is one of the earliest houses built in Wisconsin. Constructed by the U.S. Government, the house was the original site above the Portage Canal. Fort Winnebago is one of the oldest French Colonial log homes in the state, and it still stands on its original foundation built in 1824.
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