The Early History of Oak Creek

Oak Creek traces its roots to April of 1842. Forty families were living in the area, most of them farmers. But things were about to change.

The first rail line came to Oak Creek in 1855 and a second line in 1903. There were two villages located withing the township of Oak Creek, Carrollville to east and Oakwood to the west.

The first major industries moved into the area in the 1890s. Lakeside Distillery stated operations in 1892 and US Glue Company in 1898. Both were located in Carrollville and provided employee housing. Some of the housing stock from US Glue is still around today.

Yet farming remained the predominate livelihood in Oak Creek into the 1950s, including four apple orchards.

1953 was a pivotal year. Wisconsin Electric began operating its power plant in Oak Creek. The potential for tax revenue motivated the City of Milwaukee to attempt to absorb the township of Oak Creek into the City. An annexation contest resulted and was ultimately settled by exotic legislation. Town attorney Anthony Basile drafted legislation that would become known as the Oak Creek Law. The law allowed Oak Creek to become a city even when the municipality did not have enough population to meet the requirements for incorporating as a village.

Oak Creek became a city for the first time in December of 1955. In 1957, Delco Electronics built a one million square foot plant in the new city. 5,000 new workers descended on the new facility and Oak Creek doubled in size by 1960.

The history of Delco Electronics is its own story. Check back here next time for the details.

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