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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Village of Potosi (Historic Marker Erected 1996)


114-108 S. Main St., Potosi, Grant County

One of Wisconsin's early mining communities, Potosi was settled in 1829 after lead ore was found near St. John Mine. Named for the silver mining city of "Potosi" in Bolivia, South America, the village began as three separate settlements and developed along the steep walls of the narrow valley, incorporating in 1841. Located on the Grant River feeding into the Mississippi, Potosi quickly became a leading ship-ping port for lead ore and a supplier for in land miners. Potosi was one of the largest communities in the Wisconsin Territory, but its early boom was short-lived: by the late 1840s its port, filled with river silt, no longer accommodated large vessels, and the promise of gold in California drew many area miners further west. However, Potosi's mining industry was revived in the later half of the 19th century when zinc, a by-product of lead mining, was produced. The Potosi Brewery, built by Gabriel Hail in 1855, remained an important industry for over a hundred years.

[Source: Source: McBride, Sarah Davis. History Just Ahead (Madison:WHS, 1999).]

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