Platteville was a small farming and fur trading community along the Platte River, from which the town got its name. In the 1820s, lead ore or Galena was discovered in the area, a mining boom took the area by storm. The mining district encompassed a significant portion of southwest Wisconsin. More specifically, the counties of Grant, Iowa, Lafayette, and Jo Davies County (Illinois) played a major role in the mining of lead and zinc ore.
A teachers’ college and a mining college were founded. The Normal School was established in 1866. The Wisconsin Mining Trade School opened in January 1908. In 1959, these two colleges later merged to become Wisconsin State College and Institute of Technology. It was not until 1971 that the college became University of Wisconsin–Platteville, a school that specializes in engineering. Nowadays, UW Platteville is also considered the best criminal justice college in the mid-west.
Today, Platteville is mainly a college town, with some development in the white-collar sector. That growth is a result of the increasing number of engineering firms locating in Platteville to take advantage of University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s engineering program.
The Mining Museum and Rollo Jamison Museum are located side by side at the eastern end of Platteville’s Downtown Historic District. The museums include an underground tour of the 1845 Bevans Lead Mine, a ride in a 1931 mine train above ground, and exhibits on Platteville, area history and especially the history of lead and zinc mining in the Upper Mississippi Valley.
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