History of Superior


Superior, Wisconsin, located on one of the most popular tourist routes in the Midwest, embraces the westernmost tip of the Great Lake, Superior. In its natural formation, Lake Superior appears as a giant hand of destiny pointing its finger towards the iron ore mines, pine forests, and farming possibilities of this northwestern country.

Lake Superior

Early explorers gave various names to the lake, the first being “Grand Lac.” Father Marquette called it “Lac Superior De Tracy." Longfellow, in his poem “Hiawatha," says the Chippewa Indians called it “Gitchee Gumee." The French explorers called it “Superior”, because it is above or higher than the chain of lakes. Regardless of how the name originated, Lake Superior is the greatest Great Lake--the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area and the third largest by volume.


Superior is not only on the border of the vast inland sea, Lake Superior, but it is bounded by three bays and two rivers: St. Louis Bay, Superior Bay, Allouez Bay, and the St. Louis and Nemadji Rivers.


City of Superior was founded November 6, 1854, and was incorporated March 25, 1889, and “Where Sail Meets Rail” became the City’s slogan some years later.

As one observes Superior, the first impression is of the supreme beauty of its situation. Second are the immense possibilities for commerce and industry.

The approximate population of Superior is 27,224 and the area consists of 45 square miles. The altitude is 601.6 feet above sea level.


Climate of Superior is a humid continental type of climate, modified by the tempering influence of Lake Superior and by local variations in topography. Lake Superior acts as a large storage basin for heat (or cold) and thus tends to increase the number of frost free days along the lake, but also acts as a coolant in the summer. The average summer temperature is 65.2 degrees. The average yearly precipitation is 32.1 inches.


Lastly, but certainly not least, are Superior’s growing number of tourist attractions. They include the world’s only remaining Whaleback, the S.S. Meteor, built here in Superior in 1896. Barker’s Island, which is a focal point of recreation for the City of Superior, including beaches, a boat landing, a marina, a picnic/swimming area, and miniature golf course.

Fairlawn Mansion & Museum

Fairlawn Mansion & Museum offers visitors an opportunity to step back in time. The 42-room mansion was the home of the lumber baron Martin Pattison, who also was the first Mayor of Superior.

As you can see, Superior has much to offer visitors and residents alike, including both historical and natural sites, as well as industry and a growing economy. Superior is proud of its immense resources, so “Superior, We Make It that Way, “ Superior Says It All," “I’m A Superior Lover,” and “The Great Lakes and More” are just a few for the slogans area residents have adopted to welcome new citizens and visitors to the area.