10 Things You Didn’t Know About Kenosha

Kenosha by Phil Koch

While filming in Kenosha last summer, our crew discovered this city is all about unexpected fun. But that’s not all we learned. The locals taught us a few things about “K-Town,” too…

  1. It hasn’t always been “Kenosha.” The Potawotomi first named the area “gnozhé,” which means “place of the pike“. By 1836, more settlers had arrived and dubbed the town “Pike Creek”. But as the area became a significant Great Lakes shipping port, the village was renamed again in 1837 to “Southport”. Southport continues to grow and in 1850, the town’s citizens adopted an anglicized version of its original name, “Kinoje”, hence “Kenosha”. Today, Kenoshans are known to refer lovingly to their hometown as “K-Town” and “Keno”.
  2. Kenosha is the world headquarters for companies like Jockey International, Inc. (founded in 1876) and Snap-on Incorporated (founded in 1920).
  3. Kenosha is home to a number of famous faces including actors Mark Ruffalo, Orson Welles, Al Molinaro, Daniel J. Travanti and Don Ameche; athletes Nick Van Exel and Alan Ameche; inventors Thomas B.Jeffery and Christopher Latham Sholes; Chef Tony Mantuano; and Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler.
  4. You’ll find Wisconsin’s only Metra station in Kenosha, with nine inbound and nine outbound trains running Monday through Friday.
  5. The museum scene in Kenosha is pretty fascinating. For one, The Dinosaur Discovery Museum holds the largest set of meat-eating dinosaur skeletons in the U.S. Then there’s the Kenosha Public Museum, which has the largest collection of Woolly Mammoth bones ever discovered. Right next door to the Kenosha Public Museum is The Civil War Museum, which is the second largest Civil War Museum in the nation and one of only three venues featuring a 360-degree film experience in the U.S.
  6. There are 21 locations and four districts in Kenosha listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  7. Despite Kenosha’s small town feel, the community happens to be the fourth-largest city in Wisconsin behind Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay. It’s also the fourth largest city on the western shore of Lake Michigan, following Chicago, Milwaukee and Green Bay.
  8. Kenosha is one of the smallest cities in the U.S. with any type of functioning streetcar system. A two-mile streetcar line has served HarborPark and the downtown Kenosha since 2000.
  9. The legendary Franks Diner also calls Kenosha home. Perhaps you’ve heard of Frank’s – they’re known just as much for being the oldest continuously operating lunch car diner in the U.S. as they are for their sassy service and “Garbage Plate” meal.
  10. The Washington Park Velodrome has hosted bicycle races since 1927, making it the oldest operating velodrome in the U.S.

For more on Kenosha, watch “Unexpected Fun – Only in Kenosha” this weekend on Discover Wisconsin. Check our broadcast guide to learn when you can watch our show in your area.

Kenosha by Ruth Ann Welch

Photo by Ruth Ann Welch

AJ Marz
 is a producer and cinematographer for Discover Wisconsin and an avid outdoorsman. When not behind a camera or producing a segment of Discover Wisconsin, you can find AJ climbing the bluffs of Baraboo, catching walleye on the Wisconsin River, or discovering peace in nature. Watch Discover Wisconsin Saturdays at 10 a.m. on FSN Wisconsin’s outdoor block.

23 replies
  1. Phil Koch
    Phil Koch says:

    Thanks for using one of my Wisconsin Horizons to head the story. Very cool! Actually when I took this shot on the frozen shore of Lake Michigan in Kenosha it was well below zero so …..Very Cold! 🙂

  2. Roxy
    Roxy says:

    I’ve lived in kenosha pretty much my whole life, what they fail to mention in this, is that the only entertainment for preteens. Is an ice skate arena. When I was growing up there used to be roller skating and many other things to do being a teenager. Now there’s not much of anything anymore. Or that kenosha holds a record along with milwaukee for having so many bars within a block radius.

    • Art
      Art says:

      Hello Roxy,

      I lived in Kenosha the first 37 years of my life and left there in 2004. I do not miss living there and will never look back. You are correct about nothing to do there. The city has made poor use of the lakefront area as there are many cities and smaller towns that have much more inviting lakeshore areas. There are things there that I miss, such as family and the food available there, but I would never consider moving back there.

  3. Shannon
    Shannon says:

    Kenosha is also one of the remaining cities to have a drive in movie theater and is also home to the world champion competitive cheerleaders, the CYC Raiders.

  4. Missy Isely-Poltrock
    Missy Isely-Poltrock says:

    There is lots to do in Kenosha! A fabulous art and antiques and handmade items shopping scene. Lemon Street Gallery, ArtWorks, Peace Tree, Forever Grateful, Anderson Arts, Yoga classes by the lake, a killer Harbor Market, Renzos and Tacos El Rey….so much to offer if you get out and check it out!

  5. Pete Pfeiffer
    Pete Pfeiffer says:

    Not to mention Nash and American Motors , that many generations had made a good living their, including my family !

  6. David Morgan
    David Morgan says:

    When I think of Kenosha I remember the appearance of Weezer on Happy Days. ”I look just like Buddy Holly, and your Marry Tyler Moore”. Check it out on YouTube.


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