Hudson was founded in 1840Hudson is now a thriving and growing community, but it was nothing more than a spot in the wilderness when first founded along the banks of the St. Croix and Willow rivers in 1840.
Hudson is now a thriving and growing community, but it was nothing more than a spot in the wilderness when first founded along the banks of the St. Croix and Willow rivers in 1840.
Town founders Louis Massey and his brother-in-law, Peter Bouchea, would no doubt be amazed at the changes that have occurred since those early days.
It was the summer of 1840 when Bouchea, a French-Indian fur trader, and Massey, a French-Canadian, first paddled their canoes into the mouth of the Willow River, hence the city’s first designation — Willow River. Eight years later, Joel Foster, another early settler, stated that since the town afforded such a magnificent view, its name should be changed to Buena Vista, meaning “beautiful view.”
In 1852, the town underwent one last name change as A.D. Gray, the first mayor, decided upon Hudson because the St. Croix so much resembled the Hudson River in New York.
In 1850, the lumber industry began booming, and the Hudson Sawmill became the town’s hub. By 1872 the mill was one of 17 operating on the river. Today, the old mill site is the home of Hudson Marina.
With the advent of the lumber business, railroads became a necessity. In late autumn 1871, the Tomah and Lake St. Croix Railroad, later called the West Wisconsin Railway, extended its service to Hudson. In 1881, the system became the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway, which in turn became a part of the Chicago and North Western system, which was sold in recent times to the Union Pacific Railroad.
Hudson has seen many great events over the years and has been the hometown of many famous people, both nationally and internationally. Among the historic names are William H. Phipps, Gen. Carl Gray, U.S. Sen. John C. Spooner, State Attorney General Spencer Haven, Charles Ward, professional football player Jim Bertelsen, Hall of Fame publisher and area historian Willis Miller — the list goes on and on.
The city survived the great fire of 1866, which wiped out most of the business community and many of Hudson’s homes. For a short time in 1914 and 1915 Hudson was the boxing capital of the northwest, attracting 10,000 to 15,000 fans on Saturday nights. Hudson was also known as the community with the toll bridge. From 1913 to 1951 it was Hudson’s most widely known landmark. Locally owned, the bridge tolls meant little or no property taxes for Hudson residents.
The fine community we have today was molded from foresight and wisdom of people in Hudson’s past. The community has a proud history of schools, businesses, parks, local governments, historic homes, churches, medical facilities and more.
The city of Hudson, the adjacent village of North Hudson, the towns of St. Joseph, Hudson and Troy now comprise a population of 32,000 people. Things continue to change in Hudson, but life is still considered good in the center of the St. Croix River Valley. It’s just a matter of time before today’s times are described as the “good old days” in Hudson.