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Area Information - History of the Naming of "Chili"

By Robert Smith

If it had been a mild day in that cold, raw winter of 1881 in this Central Wisconsin town (and they do have mild winter days here – sometimes!), this community might have ended up with the name of Mild – or Tolerable, or maybe even Pleasant.  But it's named Chili.

Back in 1880, when the population of the U.S. Was around a fifth its present size and James A. Garfield was elected to his short-lived presidency, the Northwestern Railroad was building a line through this area in order to service the sawmills popping up in the vicinity.  One of these sawmills was built where Chili now is and became one of the larger operations in the area.

Railroad officials arrived on a cold day in 1881 to help select a name for the community.  The weather was so unpleasant that the officials were reluctant to disembark, it was warmer on the train.

One of their party, anxious to get on with the naming and avoid getting off the train, came up with an idea.

“Let's call this stop Chili because it is really chilly here,” he said, and that settled the matter.

Located somewhat off by itself on County Road Y in Clark County, Chili really tries to live up to its name during most cold, cold winter days – and nights.  Especially nights!

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