Eau Claire ( /oʊˈklɛər/ ) is a city in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties in the west-central part of the U.S. state of Wisconsin. Located almost entirely in Eau Claire County, for which it is the county seat, [2] the city had a population of 65,883 at the 2010 census, [9] making it the state's ninth-largest city. Eau Claire is the principal city of the Eau Claire, Wisconsin Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a part of the Eau Claire-Menomonie Combined Statistical Area.

Name origin

Eau Claire took its name from Eau Claire County. [2] "Eau Claire" is the singular form of the original French name, "Eaux Claires", meaning "Clear Waters", for the Eau Claire River. According to local legend, the river was so named because early French explorers journeying down the rain-muddied Chippewa River, happened upon the Eau Claire River, excitedly exclaiming "Voici l'eau claire!" ("Here [is] clear water!"), the city motto, which appears on the city seal.


Eau Claire is located at , (44.8146, −91.4927) approximately 90 miles (145 km) east of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. The city is located on the northern fringes of the Driftless Zone.

The city was founded near the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers as three separate settlements. The main section of downtown is on the site of the original village, where Stephen McCann, in partnership with J. C. Thomas, put up three buildings in 1845. Although these structures were erected to establish a claim to the land they stood on, the McCann family moved into one of them and became the first permanent settlers. [12] West Eau Claire, founded in 1856, was across the river near the present-day county courthouse, and incorporated in 1872. Between a mile and a half and two miles downstream, the Daniel Shaw & Co. lumber company founded Shawtown, which was annexed by the 1930s. By the 1950s, the entire city had spread far enough to the east to adjoin Altoona.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 34.14 square miles (88.42 km 2 ), of which 32.04 square miles (82.98 km 2 ) is land and 2.10 square miles (5.44 km 2 ) is water. [73]

The terrain of the city is characterized by the river valleys, with steep slopes leading from the center to the eastern and southern sections of the city. The lands into which the urban area is currently expanding are increasingly hilly.

There are two lakes in the city, Dells Pond, and Half Moon Lake. Dells Pond is a reservoir created by a hydroelectric dam, and was formerly used as a holding pool for logs. Half Moon Lake is an oxbow lake created as part of the former course of the Chippewa River.

Climate data for Eau Claire, Wisconsin ( Eau Claire Regional), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 54
Average high °F (°C) 23.4
Average low °F (°C) 5.4
Record low °F (°C) −45
Average precipitation inches (mm) .94
Average snowfall inches (cm) 10.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.7 8.1 9.3 11.1 12.2 12.1 11.4 10.2 11.3 10.1 9.2 10.1 124.8
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 8.4 6.9 4.9 2.0 0 0 0 0 0 .6 4.0 7.7 34.6
Source: NOAA (extremes 1949–present), [17]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 2,293
1880 10,119 341.3%
1890 17,415 72.1%
1900 17,517 0.6%
1910 18,310 4.5%
1920 20,906 14.2%
1930 26,287 25.7%
1940 30,745 17.0%
1950 36,058 17.3%
1960 37,987 5.3%
1970 44,619 17.5%
1980 51,509 15.4%
1990 56,856 10.4%
2000 61,704 8.5%
2010 65,883 6.8%
Est. 2016 68,339 [74] 3.7%

As of 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $36,399, and the median income for a family was $49,320. Males had a median income of $32,503 versus $23,418 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,230. About 5.5% of families and 13.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.4% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.

As of the most recent census, the Eau Claire County portion had a population of 63,902 inhabitants, while the Chippewa County portion was 1,981 inhabitants.

2010 census

As of the census [4] of 2010, there were 65,883 people, 26,803 households, and 14,293 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,056.3 inhabitants per square mile (793.9/km 2 ). There were 28,134 housing units at an average density of 878.1 per square mile (339.0/km 2 ). The racial makeup of the city was 91.4% White, 1.1% African American, 0.5% Native American, 4.6% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.9% of the population.

There were 26,803 households of which 25.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.6% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 46.7% were non-families. 31.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.89.

The median age in the city was 29.8 years. 19.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 22.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.2% were from 25 to 44; 21.7% were from 45 to 64; and 11.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.5% male and 51.5% female.

As of 2010, there were 1,981 persons within the city limits in Chippewa County and 63,902 in Eau Claire County for a total of 65,883. [2]

Metropolitan area

Together with surrounding communities, the Eau Claire metropolitan area is home to 114,483 people, according to the 2000 census. The city forms the core of the United States Census Bureau's Eau Claire Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Eau Claire and Chippewa Counties (composite 2000 population: 148,337). Together with the Menomonie Micropolitan Statistical Area (which includes all of Dunn County) to the west, the Eau Claire metropolitan area, forms the Census Bureau's Eau Claire-Menomonie Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a consolidated 2000 population of 188,195. 2004 population estimates place the two-county Eau Claire-Chippewa Falls metropolitan population at 155,680, and the expanded Eau Claire-Menomonie CMSA population at 197,417. [2]

Hmong population

As of 2008, Hmong Americans were the largest ethnic minority in Eau Claire. Jenna Christian, Pa Sia Low Moua, and Ingolf Vogeler, the authors of "The Cultural Landscape of the Hmong in Eau Claire, Wisconsin," wrote that the Hmong are also the city's "most visible ethnic group".

In 2008 there were 1,566 Hmong people in Eau Claire County, While the Hmong population is numerically smaller in Eau Claire County compared to Milwaukee, the Hmong have a higher percentage of the population in Eau Claire County, and Christian, Moua, and Vogeler wrote that "the Hmong stand out more singularly as an ethnic minority than they do in metropolitan areas like Milwaukee, which is already more racially and culturally diverse." The majority of the county's Hmong live in the city of Eau Claire. In select Eau Claire neighborhoods, up to 30% of the residents are Hmong.

As of 2008, 80% of the vendors at the local farmers' market are Hmong.


In November 1909 a movement to change the city government from the aldermanic to the commission form was launched by the West Side Boosters, the forerunners of the Water Street, Eau Claire Business Men. The campaign that preceded the February 15 election was a heated one. Local rallies and mass meetings were held. The 20 members of the common council were about equally split about the change. The final vote was 1867 for change and 995 against.

Since switching from a mayoral system in 1948, Eau Claire has had a city manager - city council form of government. The city council is a non-partisan 11-member governing council consisting of five members elected from aldermanic districts in odd-numbered years, five members elected at-large in even-numbered years, and an elected city council president, elected at-large in odd-numbered years. [2]

The council's legislative meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Public hearings are held on the Monday evenings before legislative sessions. All meetings are held in the City Council Chambers at City Hall in downtown Eau Claire. [2] Meetings are televised live on public-access television channel 97 and digital cable channel 994 and simulcast on radio station WRFP 101.9 FM. [19]

Eau Claire is represented by Ron Kind (D) in the United States House of Representatives, and by Ron Johnson (R) and Tammy Baldwin (D) in the United States Senate. Terry Moulton (R) and Kathleen Vinehout (D) represent Eau Claire in the Wisconsin State Senate, and Kathy Bernier (R), Dana Wachs (D), and Warren Petryk (R) in the Wisconsin State Assembly.


The lumber industry drove Eau Claire's growth in the late 19th century. At one time, there were 22 sawmills operating in the city.

Since the loss of several thousand manufacturing jobs in the early 1990s (due to the closure of the local Uniroyal tire plant), the city's economy was reshaped by the opening of a number of plants engaged in the construction of computer hardware, such as Hutchinson Technology's largest plant, and is home to IDEXX Computer Systems, a division of IDEXX Laboratories.

Eau Claire is home to several national and regional companies including Menards, National Presto Industries, Inc., Midwest Manufacturing, Erbert & Gerbert's, and Silver Spring Foods.

Today retail, health care and education are the primary employment sectors in Eau Claire..



Eau Claire is served by the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport (KEAU).

Mass transit


Eau Claire is served by both the Greyhound bus line (Milwaukee to Minneapolis, via I-94), and Jefferson Lines Bus service (Green Bay to Minneapolis, via Hwy 29 to I-94).

Major highways


Eau Claire is located on freight rail lines owned by the Union Pacific Railroad, [14] formerly owned by the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway (Omaha Road), and later part of the Chicago and North Western Railway. C&NW operated passenger trains from Chicago through Eau Claire to the Twin Cities area until 1963 when the Twin Cities 400 ended service. [82] Passenger rail service to Eau Claire is seen as critical by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and they plan to return trains to the city by 2030. [23]


Eau Claire schools are part of the Eau Claire Area School District.The city has two public high schools: Memorial High School and North High School ; and two public charter high schools: McKinley Charter School and Technology Charter School. Eau Claire also has two private high schools: Catholic Regis High School and Immanuel Lutheran High School.

Eau Claire is home to two public colleges ( University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley Technical College) and two private colleges ( Immanuel Lutheran College and a campus of Globe University/Minnesota School of Business).

There are 13 elementary schools, and 3 middle schools in the Eau Claire Area School District. [24] Including Chippewa Valley Montessori Charter School, which was founded in 2002, and follows the teaching of Maria Montessori. [25]

Health care

Mayo Clinic Health Care System has a family medicine residency program in Eau Claire. [83] Eau Claire also had two other major hospitals, including HSHS Sacred Heart, and Marshfield Clinic Hospitals.


The Episcopal Diocese of Eau Claire is headquartered in the city. Its mother church is Christ Church Cathedral. [26] The city is also located within the Roman Catholic Diocese of La Crosse and is home to Sacred Heart Church [27] and St. Patrick's Church. Additionally, Community House, First Congregational Church, First Methodist Episcopal Church and the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd [3] are located in Eau Claire.

Eau Claire is home to several religious denominations:

Media and entertainment

The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram has a daily circulation of 26,901 during the week and a circulation rate of 38,824 for the Sunday paper. Volume One is a biweekly magazine published with a circulation of 15,000 and an estimated readership of 45,000.


Nielson Market Research lists Eau Claire/La Crosse as the 127th largest television market area. [33]

Channel Callsign Affiliation Branding Subchannels Owner
(Virtual) Channel Programming
8.1 WKBT CBS WKBT 8 8.2
Morgan Murphy Media
13.1 WEAU NBC WEAU 13 News 13.2
Antenna TV
Heroes & Icons
Gray Television
18.1 WQOW ABC WQOW 18 18.2
Quincy Newspapers
28.1 WHWC PBS Wisconsin Public Television 28.2
Wisconsin Channel
PBS Kids
Wisconsin Educational Communications Board
48.1 WEUX FOX FOX 25/48 48.2
Nexstar Media Group
993 CVCTV Eau Claire Public Access CTV Community 994 Eau Claire Public Access Eau Claire Public Access



FM radio stations
Frequency Call sign Name Format Owner
88.3 FM WHWC Wisconsin Public Radio Ideas Network Wisconsin Public Radio
89.1 FM W206AH
( KLOV Translator)
Family Radio Christian Family Radio
89.7 FM WUEC Wisconsin Public Radio News & Classical Network Wisconsin Public Radio
90.5 FM WVCF VCY America Christian VCY America
91.3 FM WHEM Moody Broadcasting Network Christian Moody Broadcasting Network
92.1 FM WMEQ Classic Rock 92.1 Classic rock iHeartMedia, Inc.
92.9 FM WECL The X Active Rock Mid-West Family Broadcasting
94.1 FM WIAL I-94 Hot AC Mid-West Family Broadcasting
95.1 FM WQRB B95 Country iHeartMedia, Inc.
96.3 FM WHYS Eau Claire Community Radio Community Northern Thunder, Inc.
96.9 FM WJLM 3ABN Christian 3ABN
97.3 FM WHRC 3ABN Christian 3ABN
98.1 FM WISM Mix 98.1 Adult contemporary Aloha Station Trust, LLC.
99.1 FM W256AE
( WCFW Translator)
C105 Adult Contemporary Bushland Radio Specialties
99.9 FM WDRK Blugold Radio Variety Mid-West Family Broadcasting
100.7 FM WBIZ Z100 Top 40/CHR iHeartMedia, Inc.
101.9 FM WRFP Community-Government Eau Claire Public Access Center, Inc.
102.7 FM WIEC WIEC Fat Free Radio Community The Eau Claire Broadcasting Association
103.7 FM WWIB 103.7 WWIB Christian Stewards of Sound Inc.
104.5 FM WAXX WAXX 104.5 Country Mid-West Family Broadcasting
105.7 FM WCFW C105 Adult contemporary Bushland Radio Specialties
106.7 FM WATQ Moose Country 106.7 Classic country iHeartMedia, Inc.


AM radio stations
Frequency Call sign Name Format Owner
680 AM WOGO 680 WOGO News/Talk Stewards of Sound, Inc.
790 AM WAYY NewsTalk 790 News/Talk Mid-West Family Broadcasting
880 AM WMEQ 880 WMEQ News/Talk iHeartMedia, Inc.
1050 AM WDVM Relevant Radio Catholic Starboard Broadcasting
1150 AM WEAQ Oldies 1150 Oldies Mid-West Family Broadcasting
1400 AM WBIZ Sports Radio 1400 Sports iHeartMedia, Inc.
The Sarge Boyd Bandshell in Owen Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1938 to showcase the Eau Claire Municipal Band, it remains the city's premier outdoor performance venue.

Performing arts

Eau Claire has a modest but active theater community. Although no professional theater groups make their home in the region, amateur and community theaters have a significant presence; the most visible of these are the Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild (CVTG) and the Eau Claire Children's Theatre (ECCT). In addition, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has a robust theatre program, and traveling professional shows frequently make stops in the city. The Kjer Theatre and the State Theatre are the primary indoor performing arts venues, although both CVTG and ECCT have recently established their own independent venues, in 2006 and 2010 respectively.


The Eau Claire paper mill, circa 1890-1940. Both the dam and the mill remain functional.

There are several large parks in the city: Owen Park, along the Chippewa River, home to a large bandshell where open-air concerts are held throughout the summer; Putnam Park, which follows the course of Putnam Creek and Little Niagara Creek east from the UWEC campus; Carson Park, situated in the middle of an oxbow lake; and Phoenix Park on the site of the old Phoenix Steel plant at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa River. Phoenix Park is the host of a weekly farmers market and open-air concerts during summer months. Riverview Park is also a common summer swimming destination, as well as one of the local boat landings. This park includes picnicking areas and grills, as well as public restrooms.

The City of Eau Claire also operates Fairfax public pool, and Hobbs Municipal Ice Center, an indoor ice center.

Eau Claire is at the head of the Chippewa River State Trail, a biking and recreation trail that follows the lower course of the Chippewa River.



Eau Claire has three amateur baseball teams. The Eau Claire Express are a team that plays in the Northwoods League, an NCAA -sanctioned summer baseball league. Their home games are played at Carson Park. The Eau Claire Cavaliers, also plays home games at Carson Park. [34] The Eau Claire Bears play in the Chippewa River Baseball League. Also, three of Eau Claire's High Schools have baseball teams. [35] Eau Claire North H.S. won the 2011 state championship. Eau Claire also has a large youth baseball program including a summer parks and recreation league, Little League (Nationals, American,Lowes Creek and Seymour). A Babe Ruth League (13- to 18-year-olds) which won State Tournaments at ages 13, 14 and 15 in 2012. Those Teams all went on to win 3rd place at their Regional Tournaments.


Eau Claire Curling Club has been around for over 50 years. [85]


The Chippewa Valley Predators football compete in the Northern Elite Football League, play their home games at Carson Park.

Roller Derby

Established in 2009, The Chippewa Valley Roller Girls (CVRG) represent Eau Claire and the surrounding Chippewa Valley region. CVRG, a WFTDA League member, is Eau Claire's original all-female flat track roller derby league. It is a non profit organization managed and operated by the skaters via an elected board of directors and skater-led committees.


The Eau Claire Aris FC are Eau Claire's team in the NPSL. Eau Claire United is a competitive youth soccer team competing in the MYSA. Every summer, Eau Claire United hosts a soccer tournament that brings around 100 teams to the community.


America's Promise named the city as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People in 2007. Eau Claire was among the first Tree Cities in Wisconsin, having been recognized as such since 1980. [40]

Notable people

See also

Sister cities

Eau Claire is sistered with the following towns:

See also