History of Minocqua, Woodruff, and Arbor Vitae

The Minocqua, Woodruff, Arbor Vitae Area has a rich history and has grown into a booming tourist destination that delights people from all over the world.

Culture in the Minocqua Area

Minocqua museum

Opportunities to experience arts and culture are more abundant in the Northwoods than you may have imagined. From arts and crafts shows, live theater performances and oil painting classes to live music in the park and traditional Ojibwe craft workshops, you will find plenty of ways to enrich your cultural palate.

Minocqua, WI

Minocqua Lake aerial

Located in the northwest corner of Oneida County, Minocqua obtained township status on March 13, 1889. The town’s name was derived from the Ojibwe word “Ninocqua,” meaning “noon-day rest.” Native Americans once used the Island of Minocqua as place of rest during their journeys.

Today, Minocqua (often referred to as part of the Lakeland area) is a flourishing tourist destination, with a variety of accommodations – from rustic cabins to luxurious condominium suites, and campgrounds to bed and breakfasts. It features fine dining, unique shopping, attractions and historical museums, as well. It is also home to one of the largest concentrations of fresh water bodies in the world, providing endless outdoor recreational opportunities for four seasons of fun in the Northwoods.

Arbor Vitae, WI


As one of the older towns in Vilas County, Arbor Vitae was established in the 1890s, shortly after Vilas became a county in 1893.

Today Arbor Vitae is the center of a flourishing tourist industry and is home to a wide variety of accommodations – resorts, cottages, private homes, hotel/motels, bed and breakfasts and campgrounds.

Area attractions include wildlife parks, live theater, antique shops and events. Unique shopping, many fine area restaurants, golf courses and endless outdoor recreational opportunities also offer four-season fun in the Northwoods.

Abandoned railroad right-of-ways and many logging roads provide an extensive trail system now used for recreational purposes such as snowmobiling in the winter and hiking and biking during the spring, summer and fall.

Lake Tomahawk, WI

Aerial lake view

Nestled in the heart of Oneida County is the community of Lake Tomahawk known as the Queen of the Northwoods Lake. If you're looking for a quiet change of pace from noisy areas, this could definitely be your destination.

Tomahawk Lake became a township in 1914 and its name was changed to Lake Tomahawk in the early 1930's.

Lake Tomahawk is located between Minocqua/Woodruff to the north, and Rhinelander to the south. Lake Tomahawk is in the middle of the American Legion State Forest and boasts many miles of hiking and snowmobile trails, lakes, magnificent forests and pristine beaches.

Each year there are major musky and walleye tournaments that ultimately bring in some of the best trophy fish. Lake Tomahawk cherishes the quiet times, but is only minutes away from larger town amenities. There's never a bad time of year to visit Lake Tomahawk in Oneida County.

Woodruff, WI


Woodruff is a small, unique town that was established in 1888 in Oneida County. The town is believed to be named for George Woodruff, owner of the Woodruff-Macguire Lumber Company. He often had freight labeled, “Ship to Woodruff at Muskonegan Creek, NorthWestern Terminal.” Thus, his name became associated with the site.

Today, Woodruff is the center of a flourishing tourist industry and is home to a wide variety of accommodations, attractions and endless four-season outdoor recreational opportunities.

A significant Woodruff historical attraction is the Art Oehmcke State Fish Hatchery, which began in 1901. It continues to be one of the only hatcheries still operating in Wisconsin that is responsible for raising and restocking muskellunge, walleye and northern pike in lakes throughout the state.