DeSoto is a small village on the banks of the Mississippi River. Located on the Great River Road, It was originally part of the Northwest Territory that was the home of the Winnebago Indians. In 1837, the Winnebago’s lost most of their land east of the Mississippi River in a treaty with the United States. From 1820 to 1854, it was known as the Winneshiek Landing, Bad Axe County. The first settlers did not like the Indian name and finally settled on DeSoto after Hernando De Soto, who discovered the Mississippi River.
Although it was intended to be an exclusive New England settlement, soon German and Norwegians settled in the area. It became a center for grain and lumber to be shipped on the river. The town grew with hotels, a creamery, breweries, sawmills, grain elevators, warehouse, shoemakers, copper shop and blacksmith shop, general store, doctors and lawyers.
When the railroad came to Viroqua, the river traffic dropped off. The growth of the town slowed down. In 1882, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad came through DeSoto, It perked up the livestock market, but DeSoto never regained its importance in the business world.
Today, DeSoto is a small community where people enjoy being away from the hustle of the city. The DeSoto Area High School is located here providing superb educational opportunities for area families. Restaurants, taverns, motels, and our own boat landing are available to the people who come to fish, hunt and to enjoy the Great Mississippi River.