Fort Winnebago was constructed at the portage between the strategically important Fox and Wisconsin Rivers at the city of Portage in Columbia County. It was one of three forts built to protect settlers and commerce along the crucial Fox-Wisconsin Waterway; the other two were Fort Crawford in Prairie du Chien at the Mississippi River and Fort Howard at Green Bay, making Fort Winnebago is only of these three built in the state’s interior.
Fort Winnebago Surgeon’s Quarters was built in 1824 as a trading post and is the only remaining building from the fort itself, which was deactivated in 1845. U.S. Army surgeons used the building for their quarters, hence the name. Next door, the Garrison School is a 19th century one-room schoolhouse built around 1850. It originally stood nearby on the corner of Garrison Road and the Military Road; it remained an active school building until 1960 and was moved to the Fort Winnebago site shortly thereafter. It has many interesting period artifacts and continues to be set up as a schoolroom.
The building is one of the oldest French Colonial log structures in the state; it’s owned, operated, and maintained by the Wisconsin Society Daughters of the American Revolution and is furnished with many 19th century period pieces throughout.
Tours are available during the warmer months; they last for 90 minutes and are popular for school and senior tours. You can check it out during the season, which runs generally from mid-May through in season. Kayak, canoe, and bike tour groups can also schedule rest stops or overnights, where camping is available. The Heritage Gift Shop, located in a building dating back to 1858, will happily sell you crafts and articles related to this historic site.
You’ll find Fort Winnebago Surgeon’s Quarters Historic Site right along Highway 33 between the Fox River and Portage Canal crossings on the eastern end of the city of Portage. U.S. 51 and Highway 16 are about one mile to the west; I-39 and Highway 127 are about three miles to the west, and Highway 78 ends about four miles south, where I-90/94 runs. all of these highways bring you close.
Seniors (age 65+) $6.00
Children 6-18 $3.00
Children under 5 FREE
Families (2 adults and 2 children) $18.00
Students with School ID (18-25) $3.00
School tours children and chaperones each $3.00
Military: Active, Retired, Disabled with ID Free
1824 E. Wisconsin Highway 33
Portage, WI 53901