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Council Grounds State Park History

Council Grounds was once city owned and called Wildwood City Park. In 1938 the City of Merrill presented the original 278 acres west of the city to the State of Wisconsin and it was designated Council Grounds State Forest. Before its classification as a state park in 1978, it also was designated as a roadside park.

The land contains stands of white and red pines, mixed hardwood and hemlock--in total, 35 varieties of deciduous and coniferous trees. Works Progress Administration (WPA) crews planted its young stand of trees in the late 1930s and completed much of the first park development.

The name Council Grounds was based on stories that bands of Native Americans once used the site for their annual councils and festivals. It is said they traveled down the Wisconsin River by canoe to meet here for several days and nights of celebration each year. Though this claim has not been substantiated, these people certainly knew the land well and used it during their fall and spring pilgrimages as they followed the river to their summer and winter camps.

Council Grounds has grown to 508 acres. In May of 1992, the Natural Resources Board approved a feasibility study recommending acquisition and preservation of adjacent lands which, over time, could expand the park to about 1,000 acres.

Last revised: Friday October 17 2014