Alpha, Wisconsin
Alpha is an unincorporated community
Unincorporated area
In law, an unincorporated area is a region of land that is not a part of any municipality.To "incorporate" in this context means to form a municipal corporation, a city, town, or village with its own government. An unincorporated community is usually not subject to or taxed by a municipal government...

 in western Burnett County in the northwestern corner of the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

. The community is in the town of Wood River, which had a population of 974 at the 2000 census
United States Census, 2000
The Twenty-second United States Census, known as Census 2000 and conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13.2% over the 248,709,873 persons enumerated during the 1990 Census...

. There are fewer than a dozen households in within the community.


Alpha was settled primarily by Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

n immigrants from the Småland
' is a historical province in southern Sweden.Småland borders Blekinge, Scania or Skåne, Halland, Västergötland, Östergötland and the island Öland in the Baltic Sea. The name Småland literally means Small Lands. . The latinized form Smolandia has been used in other languages...

 District of Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. The community was originally called Småland Prairie, a name rejected by the United States Postmaster General
United States Postmaster General
The United States Postmaster General is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service. The office, in one form or another, is older than both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence...

. The town's postmaster, also the local butter-maker, at a loss to come up with a better name, simply filled in the name of his Alpha brand cream separator
Cream separator
A separator is a centrifugal device that separates milk into cream and skimmed milk. Separation was commonly performed on farms in the past. Most farmers milked a few cows, usually by hand, and separated milk. Some of the skimmed milk was consumed while the rest was used to feed calves and pigs...


The postmaster's butter business eventually became the Burnett Dairy Co-op. Early on, it processed so much milk that the excess whey
Whey or Milk Serum is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained. It is a by-product of the manufacture of cheese or casein and has several commercial uses. Sweet whey is manufactured during the making of rennet types of hard cheese like cheddar or Swiss cheese...

 turned the stream a creamy color; thus the stream's name, Buttermilk Creek.

The Alpha Store survived long after most general stores had closed. The business was owned through most of its years by the Anderson family. Gordon Anderson, the last owner of the store, sold everything from shoes to groceries to television sets. The building is now home to a small engine repair shop.


The nearest major metropolitan area is Minneapolis
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis , nicknamed "City of Lakes" and the "Mill City," is the county seat of Hennepin County, the largest city in the U.S. state of Minnesota, and the 48th largest in the United States...

/St. Paul, located approximately 70 miles to the south-southwest. Alpha is situated on Highway 70
Highway 70 (Wisconsin)
State Trunk Highway 70 is a state highway in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. It runs east–west in northern Wisconsin from a shared terminus with WIS 101 at US 2 and US 141 near Florence to a connection with Minnesota State Highway 70 at the St. Croix River west of Grantsburg in Burnett County...

, 5 miles east of Grantsburg
Grantsburg, Wisconsin
Grantsburg is a village in Burnett County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The population was 1,369 at the 2000 census. The village is located within the Town of Grantsburg.-Claim to fame:...

 and 10 miles west of Siren
Siren, Wisconsin
Siren is a village in Burnett County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The population was 988 at the 2000 census. The village is located within the Town of Siren.-Geography:Siren is located at ....


Alpha is surrounded by flat, fertile farmland. Buttermilk Creek passes through town, running alongside the highway until it joins the Wood River about one mile west of town. The stream is small enough to jump across, though it rarely runs dry, even in the height of summer. It drains a sizeable shallow wetland
A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

 to the east of town, known as the Falun Meadows.

Business and industry

The largest employer in Alpha is the Burnett Dairy Co-op, which claims to produce the world's finest string cheese
String cheese
Several different types of cheese are known as string cheese. It is peelable and when peeled, it does so in strings or strips from the larger cheese....

. Attached to the cheese factory is a retail outlet that sells dairy products, groceries, and souvenir
A souvenir , memento, keepsake or token of remembrance is an object a person acquires for the memories the owner associates with it. The term souvenir brings to mind the mass-produced kitsch that is the main commodity of souvenir and gift shops in many tourist traps around the world...

s. The Co-op also includes a feed mill, with an attached hardware store. A small engine shop is located in the former general store.

Alpha has a bed and breakfast
Bed and breakfast
A bed and breakfast is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and breakfast, but usually does not offer other meals. Since the 1980s, the meaning of the term has also extended to include accommodations that are also known as "self-catering" establishments...

, an elementary school
Elementary school
An elementary school or primary school is an institution where children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as elementary or primary education. Elementary school is the preferred term in some countries, particularly those in North America, where the terms grade school and grammar...

 operated by the Grantsburg School District, an Evangelical Covenant Church
Evangelical Covenant Church
The Evangelical Covenant Church is an evangelical Christian denomination of more than 800 congregations and an average worship attendance of 179,000 people in the United States and Canada with ministries on five continents. Founded in 1885 by Swedish immigrants, the church is now one of the most...

, and the Wood River Town Hall.
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