La Crosse was incorporated as a city in 1856, but its history dates further. The first Europeans to see the site of La Crosse were French fur traders who traveled the Mississippi River in the late 17th century. In 1805, Lt. Zebulon Pike mounted an expedition up the Mississippi River. Pike recorded the location’s name as “Prairie La Crosse.”
The name originated when he saw the Native Americans playing a game with sticks that resembled a bishop’s crozier or la crosse in French. La Crosse is a college town and is the home to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Viterbo University, and Western Technical College.