The county is home to the 32,000 acre Horicon Marsh, the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States. Dodge County has an additional 21,000+ acres of surface water, including 31 lakes and 50 rivers and streams that offer an outstanding natural habitat for over 219 species of birds and waterfowl. Dodge County has 20,918 acres of federal recreation areas, 23,372 acres of state recreation areas and 1,131 acres of county recreation land. Other cultural, arts and recreational opportunities include numerous community theatres, a Center for the Arts, a new YMCA, numerous golf courses, as well as many other sports and recreational activities for all seasons.
Known for its lakes, streams and small towns, Dodge County, Wisconsin offers a peaceful rural environment located within an hours drive of Milwaukee, Madison and Fox Valley metropolitan areas. Progressive Farmer Magazine selected Dodge County as the 12th best place to live in rural America in 2005 based on its rankings of access to healthcare and education, low crime rates, overall tax burden, environment, and climate.
Covering 892 square miles, Dodge County has a population of nearly 90,000. The county seat is Juneau. Major cities within Dodge County and their populations include Beaver Dam (15,750), Mayville (5,250) and Horicon (3,700). Other major cities, a portion of which is in Dodge County, include Watertown (23,150), Hartford (14,000), Waupun (10,600) and Columbus (5,000).
Friendly small towns, farm markets, orchards, antique and craft shops and cheese factories can be found throughout the County. The Dodge County Fairgrounds hosts a variety of events, including stock car and harness races as well as the annual County fair.
Located 45 miles east of Madison, 60 miles west of Milwaukee and 60 miles to the Fox Valley, Dodge County enjoys close proximity to the State’s Capital, world class entertainment, sporting venues, restaurants, and art and culture. The University of Wisconsin, with campuses in Madison and Milwaukee, is nationally acclaimed as an outstanding center of higher learning. All are easily accessible by a quality road system, including US Highway 151.
The earliest inhabitants of Dodge County were hunters and gatherers who used the system of rivers and streams to reach herds of large animals and gather food stuffs. Attracted to the rich soil and bountiful agricultural land, farmers began to settle the area in the 1820s. Dodge County was created in 1836 and named in honor of Henry Dodge, then territorial governor of Wisconsin. The Town of Victory was chosen as the county seat. It was later renamed Juneau, after the son of Solomon Juneau, who founded Milwaukee.
The discovery of iron ore in Mayville in 1845 established mining as an industry in the county. The mines operated for several decades until competition from Lake Superior mines forced them to close. During this time, sawmills and gristmills were widely distributed throughout the county.
In 1875, John Jossie emigrated from Switzerland to Dodge County, where he developed brick cheese and later opened the country’s first brick cheese factory in Watertown, which operated until 1943.
Dodge County is a leader in the production of cheese, barley, alfalfa, hay and peas for canning. Local manufacturers produce a variety of goods including wood products, metal products, lawn care equipment, stainless steel equipment and ice fishing gear.
Major employers include Quad/Graphics, Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Wal-Mart, John Deere Horicon Works, Beaver Dam Community Hospital, Grande Cheese Co, Watertown Regional Medical Center, Mayville Engineering Co., Michels Corporation, Beaver Dam Public Schools and Seneca Foods Corp. Quad/Graphics is the world’s second largest print and multi-media provider. With approximately 25,000 full-time equivalent employees worldwide and $4.7 billion in annual sales, the company operates two facilities in Dodge County, employing nearly 2,700 persons in the county. John Deere Horicon Works and the Beaver Dam Community Hospital account for over 2,000 jobs.
Wisconsin Aviation provides services to the Dodge County Airport, located in Juneau. The Dodge County Airport is home to approximately 60 aircraft ranging from light sport aircraft to business jets. The Airport serves approximately 24,000 take offs and landings a year.
Dodge County is served by nine different school districts, with most students attending schools located in the Beaver Dam School District.
The County is also home to two campuses of the Wisconsin Technical College System. The Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC) campus in Beaver Dam offers more than 100 associate degrees, technical diplomas and certificates. The Madison Area Technical College (MATC) has a campus located in Watertown. MATC is dedicated to providing accessible, high quality instruction and technical experience to meet the needs of its students, community and area employers. More than 90% of MPTC and MATC graduates are hired shortly after graduation.