Home of the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage

Area Information

Mercer Wisconsin Area Information

Today, Mercer is known for the natural beauty of its surroundings. Offering quiet, tension-free lifestyles for all ages. It has an excellent school system, a new library and renovated community building, legal and medical facilities and a strong retail base. The current population is 1,925.

Mercer is in the heart of a vast, open country. No other area in Wisconsin provides more authentic wilderness, or greater abundance of virgin vacation land, than the lake area of Mercer.

Despite the hustle and bustle of many northern Wisconsin vacation destinations, the Mercer area remains peaceful and serene. It offers you a clean, fresh world, renewed with every change of season, here at the top of the state. Each year brings more Mercer history, we hope you will enjoy sharing a little
of our town’s past and present. We can provide all the conveniences so necessary to a successful family vacation.

Come visit Mercer, the “Loon Capital of the World” TM in the Heart of the Northwoods!

  • 214 Lakes including the Famous 14,000 acre Turtle Flambeau Flowage
  • Over 125,000 acres of clean waters teeming with game fish
  • Nearly 300 miles of trout streams
  • 450 miles of groomed snowmobile trails
  • 250 miles of atv trails
  • 377,900 acres of forest land
  • Sand Beaches, cool forests, sun-filled days and brisk nights
  • Boating, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, hiking, biking, nature study, hunting, fishing, archery, golfing, and loon watching
  • 15 waterfalls throughout Iron County

The Magic of Mercer is all set in the natural beauty and serenity of the Wisconsin's True Northwoods Playground.

A Little Mercer History

Geologists traveled through Mercer early in 1848 following the “Flambeau Trail” to the North end of Long Lake from Lake Superior.

The first Mercer school was erected in 1894. It was in this year that the first train arrived in Mercer signaling the beginning of the early settlers, roads, mills, stores and other business. In 1909, Mercer had its first battle with typhoid fever, while 1911 brought forest fires, burning many acres and threatening lives. 1916 , the fury of a cyclone swept across Long Lake and again in 1920.

The early 1930’s saw the Capone brothers, Al, Ralph, George and Matte, vacationing at the Jack Solomon lodge. They were guided by Mitch Babic and Louis Stephy. Ralph Capone returned to Mercer years later, built a home and was one of Mercer’s most respected, well-liked residents, always ready to help his fellow townspeople.

The Turtle-Flambeau Flowage was created in 1926 by the Chippewa and Flambeau Improvement Company (CFIC) as a water retention reservoir to provide flood control and a dependable supply of water for down-stream hydroelectric generating stations. The creation of the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage and improved transportation significantly altered tourism in Iron County. The flowage flooded 16 named lakes and many acres of upland. Many early resorts were located in the area that is now flooded and were forced to move--some to higher ground, others out of the area. As compensation for property lost during the land acquisition stage, property owners were offered money or land. Since most chose to take the cash settlement, the land along the flowage today is very sparsely developed.

The flowage, in turn, also attracted tourists. What had been good fishing before became even better, and more people came to test the waters. In the 1930’s, a large Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) camp was established in the Mercer-Manitowish area (Camp 79S, Company 660). The CCC, along with the Works Progress Administration (WPA), cleared the land, improved and paved roads, and began to manage the remaining forest lands and replant areas that had been logged. This made the area more accessible and popular to tourists, and many new resorts opened to service them.

Over the years, these resorts have had many visitors, some of them notorious, adding some interesting fodder to the area’s history. John Dillinger frequented the area. Al Capone, the Chicago gangster, fished in the flowage area many times, especially in the years after he was released from prison. Charlie Comiskey, founder of the White Sox baseball team, used Jerome’s Hunting and Fishing Club on Trude Lake as a place for rest and relaxation for himself and his team.

Long-time residents tell wonderful stories of coming north on the train, the entire household and livestock in the same boxcar. Of walking miles to Mercer on snowshoes for supplies during snow-in months. Snowplows pulled by five horse teams with men shoveling before the plow so the horses could get through.

In later years, with the decline of lumbering, Mercer became a popular vacation area for fishing and hunting. A naturally beautiful area, with 200 lakes within 20 minutes.

Contact us for your FREE Mercer Wisconsin Visitor's Guide.