Located about halfway between Madison and Milwaukee, the city of Watertown, Wisconsin is the largest city in what is called the Watertown-Fort Atkinson micropolitan area with about 23,000 residents. First settled and built along the banks of the Rock River in the early nineteenth century, Watertown did not become an official town until 1849. Several sawmills and dams were constructed along the Rock River which allowed the city to become a center for trading, transportation, and the lumber industry. As a result, settlers began to flock to the area, especially immigrants from Germany.
Watertown boasts several historical attractions that show off the city’s heritage. The most recognizable of these historical sites is the Octagon House, one of the largest residences from pre-Civil War Wisconsin. Watertown is also home to the first kindergarten in the United States, established by German immigrants in 1856.
A system of genteel parks spans more than 300 acres of Watertown. Tivoli Island, located in the Rock River, is a 4-acre prairie area ideal for hiking, fishing and birding. A quaint foot bridge connects the island to the city’s mainland. Riverside Park’s almost 29 acres are abundantly enjoyed for its gazebo outdoor concert shell, sports areas and its scenery along the Rock River. The Rock River Trail traverses the entire length of the city and continues onward for 11 counties.
Curious visitors and residents will thoroughly enjoy the variety of walking and driving tours in Watertown, with itineraries available at the city’s chamber of commerce. A brewery tour, a “dark side” tour and a tour of area churches are among the most popular offerings. Finally, the annual Riverfest entices music and carnival fans to Riverside Park.