Phelps - a small town packed with plenty of pizzazz

 Phelps Lions Club

Thanks to the Phelps Lions Club for use of this picture.

Just to the northeast of Eagle River lies the town of Phelps. With surprisingly more area than the city of Milwaukee, the 92 square miles is home to a tiny population of just over 1200 people. The town lies within the Nicolet National Forest and 75 percent of the town’s lands are in the forest.

Phelps was originally founded as a town called Hackley in 1905. The town changed its name to Phelps in 1912 due to name confusion with Hatley, Wis. Beginning in the late 1800s, the area’s main industry was logging. The Hackley-Phelps-Bonnell Company was destroyed in a fire in 1916 and was rebuilt under the management of C.M Christensen. Christensen bought out the mill in 1928 and the company was one of the country’s largest lumber mills. The company effectively went out of business when the mill burned for the second time in 1957. Christensen's son, Phil, took over management of his father's property and land holdings after his father died.

The area now draws nature lovers and sports enthusiasts to enjoy the lush forests and beautiful scenery. Phelps is also home to one of the highest densities of fresh water lakes in the world, making for an exceptionally popular fishing destination. Sportsmen thrill to the variety of bird and wildlife in the area and nature lovers are drawn to the area’s fine hiking trails.

Phelps is also home to one of the country’s last K-12 schools. Despite being a small school, it excels in technological support and students achieve some of the highest SAT scores in the country. Success is attributed to the excellent quality of the staff and the low student/teacher ratios.

The town is actively making efforts to increase business growth in the area, with an emphasis on tourism and entertainment due to the area’s plentiful natural resources. Thus employment opportunities will grow and will lead to more residential growth. With ready access to the Internet, home-based businesses are being encouraged.

Phelps also has a public library that is part of a shared resources network with other libraries through their “Merlin” system as well as the state’s WISCAT system. There are computers available with Internet access as well as 24/7 WiFi accessibility and many more services.

Looking for some great winter activities? Saturday, Jan. 25, the Phelps Lions Club will be hosting the Great Northern Ice Fishing Tournament on Lake Vieux Desert starting at 8:00AM until 4:00 PM. The kickoff will be at the West Shore Boat Landing. 

On Saturday, Feb. 1 make tracks to the Phelps School Winter Carnival from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM in the school commons on Old School Rd in Phelps. There will be indoor games, mouth-watering chili and dessert contests. The Popular Girl band concert will begin at 6:30 until 8:00 PM in the small gym. For more details call 715-545-2724.

The Northern Exposure Bar & Restaurant will be hosting its Northern Exposure Ice Fishing Tournament on Saturday, February 8 from 6:00 AM – 4:00 PM. Fishing will be on North and South Twin Lakes. Contact them at 715-545-3555 for event details.

Sunday, February 9 the Third Annual Wounded Warriors In Action Phelps Fund Raiser Banquet will be held at the Holiday Lodge from 1:00-5:00 PM. Tickets are only available in advance and are $50.00 for a couple or $30.00 for a single. Tickets can be bought at be purchased at the First National Bank of Phelps and Eagle River locations, the Tackle Box in Land O Lakes, Phelps and Holiday Lodge.

To get all the information, visit or call Scott Spurgeon at 715-891-8161 or Debbie Vold at 715-617-7582.

Also on February 15 is the Phelps Snowmobile Club Brat Fry from 11:00 AM until 3:00PM at the intersection of trails 45N and 6W on the trail. Everyone is invited to stop and enjoy food and hot chocolate with fellow snowmobilers. Visit the club’s site to learn about their club and activities at

Sand Lake Pub will be having their Ice Fishing Derby on Sand Lake on Saturday, February 15 from 7:00 AM until 2:00 PM. Contact the Pub at 715-545-3200 to find out how to get in on all the fun!

To keep up on all the great times in Phelps, be sure to visit their Facebook page at


Brought to you by:  Eliason Realty of the North, LLC 
Northern Wisconsin Real Estate with Offices in Eagle River and St Germain WI

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