Council Grounds State Park

The History of Council Grounds

Council Grounds State Park has been around in some form for almost 100 years! 
Learn a little about the park before you visit.

How many people know...

…that Council Grounds State Park was once owned by the City of Merrill and was initially called Wildwood City Park?

In 1938, the city of Merrill sold 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 park property was originally acquired by the City of Merrill from the Wisconsin Valley Electric Company in 1924 for $7,500. The property was officially named Wildwood City Park by the Merrill Park Commission in 1928. Development of the park was initially limited to a dirt track road and designated picnic areas

In 1936 it was suggested to the Park Commission that the park be sold to the State. After much discussion it was decided to deed the property to the State for $1.00 in 1938 and designated as Council Grounds Roadside Park. Shortly thereafter the name was changed to Council Grounds State Forest. The name Council Grounds is based upon supposed Native American activity on the site

Development within the newly named Council Grounds State Forest was carried out under the WPA. The Works Progress Administration (WPA; renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration) was an American New Deal agency that employed millions of jobseekers (mostly men who were not formally educated) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. It was set up on May 6, 1935, by presidential order, as a key part of the Second New Deal

Under the WPA, roads through the park were improved, camp sites were developed, trees were planted and the log and stone shelter house that can still be seen today was constructed. The State Forest designation was changed to Council Grounds State Park in 1978. In 1983 a 21acre tract of pines was designated Clifford Krueger State Natural Area, better known locally as Krueger Pines

We have seen Council grounds evolve from a city park to state roadside park to a state forest to full state park status. Today Council Grounds State Park consists of 508 acres with camping sites, picnic sites, a shelter house, boat rampfishing piers, swimming beach, hiking and crosscountry skiing trails, and kayak portage

(Used with permission of the Merrill Historical Society)