Manitowish Waters

Photo by Dawn Roper
Staged in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, featuring the Manitowish Waters chain of 10 connected Lakes and the Manitowish River.

This community is renowned as a splendid recreational paradise for its fishing, snowmobile and bike trails but it's also the setting of the famous 1934 shoot-out between John Dillinger and the FBI.

Downtown artist studios, the performing 'Skiing Skeeters', the North Lakeland Discovery Center and the cranberry marsh tours are also popular attractions of this northwoods area.


The land area of Manitowish Waters is 30.4 square miles in northern Vilas County. Latitude: 46.12 N, Longitude: 89.85 W. It is 117.4 miles S.E. of Duluth, MN and 314.8 miles N.W. of Chicago, IL. The nearest city to Manitowish Waters with a with a population of 200,000+ is St. Paul, MN which is 177.4 miles S.W.


Chippewa Indians raised corn, fished and made sugar on the east side of Manitowish Lake. Government officials established township boundaries in 1860 and by 1884 the first white settlements were forming, mainly by loggers. The dam was built in 1887-1888 to hold the chain of lakes water for floating logs to sawmills. The town of Spider Lake was officially established in 1927 and was renamed to Manitowish Waters in 1940. Cranberry farming began at Wild Rice Lake in 1946 and has become a successful business in Manitowish Waters. As the logging industry faded away this beautiful area became the perfect place to "get away from it all."

Fun Facts

Elevation: 1620 ft.

Population: 700 (courtesy Manitowish Chamber of Commerce)

The annual snowfall for the Manitowish Waters area will range from 79 to 143 inches.

Helpful Links:
Town of Manitowish Waters Municipal Web Site
Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin information courtesy: Wikipedia

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