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Black River Falls is a city in Jackson County, Wisconsin, USA. The population was 3,622 at the 2010 census. It is Jackson County’s county seat. The Ho-Chunk Nation has its administrative center in Black River Falls.
Black River Falls was founded to utilize the waterpower of the Black River. As the area was predominantly forest at the time, its primary use was in operating sawmills. Some of the lumber produced was used in the construction of the Mormon temple at Nauvoo, Illinois.
A large monument to Black River Falls’ veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, as well as to local Medal of Honor recipient Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr., was erected near the Chamber of Commerce Building at 101 S. 2nd Street. Named the “Field of Honor”, the attached plaques provide accounts of the veterans’ services. This site is also the start of the four-mile (6.5 km) Foundation Trail, a signed hiking and bike path that circles the eastern part of the community.
Black River Falls is the focus of Michael Lesy’s book Wisconsin Death Trip (1973), which used photographs and newspaper cuttings to highlight the harshness of life in the community during the late nineteenth century and the effects it had on the psychology of the inhabitants. To this day the city has a higher murder and suicide rate than the rest of Wisconsin.
Black River Falls is located at 44°17′50″N 90°50′57″W (44.297166, -90.849263). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.20 square miles (10.88 km2), of which, 4.10 square miles (10.62 km2) is land and 0.10 square miles (0.26 km2) is water.
The city is located on the falls of the Black River at the northeast edge of the Driftless Area, where the river cuts through a region of granite. The falls are covered by a hydroelectric dam, forming the 200-acre (0.81 km2) Black River Flowage.
As of the census of 2010, there were 3,622 people, 1,613 households, and 845 families residing in the city. The population density was 883.4 inhabitants per square mile (341.1 /km2). There were 1,732 housing units at an average density of 422.4 per square mile (163.1 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.5% White, 0.5% African American, 5.2% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.7% of the population.
There were 1,613 households of which 26.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.7% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 47.6% were non-families. 41.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.89.
The median age in the city was 41.6 years. 22.8% of residents were under the age of 18; 6.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.4% were from 25 to 44; 24.7% were from 45 to 64; and 21.2% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female.