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Altoona, Wisconsin

Altoona is a city in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 6,698 at the 2000 census, and 6,719 in a 2004 estimate. The city is a railroad terminal on the Union Pacific Railroad.


The settlement of Altoona began in 1881 when the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railway selected the site for a new terminal to replace the overcrowded existing terminal in Eau Claire. The railroad had originally planned to put the new terminal in Fall Creek, but the city of Eau Claire lobbied for a site closer to the existing one, and representatives from Eau Claire and the railroad walked the tracks from Fall Creek to Eau Claire to determine a suitable site. When the location of present-day Altoona - approximately three miles east of the existing Eau Claire terminal - was found to have sufficient flat land and access to water (via the Eau Claire River), the railroad began construction of the new terminal and the community of "East Eau Claire" was platted in October.

Residents began moving into the community in early 1882 and the railroad terminal became operational in May of that year. However, confusion between the "Eau Claire" and "East Eau Claire" stations quickly caused the railroad to rename the new terminal "Altoona" on October 14, 1882. Altoona was incorporated as a city on April 5, 1887.

Continued growth in both Altoona and Eau Claire over the past century has left the two cities adjacent to one another, with Fairfax St. and Bus. 53 providing a general boundary between the two, although the actual border is irregular. Altoona is bounded on the north by Lake Altoona and the Eau Claire River. To the south, the city limits generally follow U.S. Highway 12 and Otter Creek.


Altoona is located at (44.804110, -91.442183).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.3 square miles (11.1 km²), of which, 4.1 square miles (10.6 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km²) of it (4.88%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 6,698 people, 2,844 households, and 1,731 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,638.6 people per square mile (632.3/km²). There were 3,063 housing units at an average density of 749.4/sq mi (289.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.89% White, 0.40% African American, 0.58% Native American, 1.15% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.27% from other races, and 1.63% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.73% of the population.

There were 2,844 households out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.1% were non-families. 31.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.3% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 29.4% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 16.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 90.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $40,394, and the median income for a family was $49,441. Males had a median income of $33,505 versus $22,200 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,236. About 4.4% of families and 5.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.3% of those under age 18 and 4.6% of those age 65 or over.


Altoona is generally a part of the Eau Claire media market; however, it is serviced by a free weekly newspaper of its own, the Altoona Star.

Notable people


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