Wisconsin’s Northwoods region offers endless ways to enjoy the outdoors, from muskellunge fishing in Boulder Junction to cross-country skiing along the Ice Age Trail in Tomahawk. Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) offers a unique way to experience the area’s natural beauty through a self-guided tour of its Otter Rapids hydroelectric power plant near Eagle River.

Natural energy from the Northwoods

Otter Rapids Hydro is nestled along the banks of the Wisconsin River, west of Eagle River. The hydroelectric power plant uses the flow of the river to produce affordable, reliable and clean energy for WPS customers. Water from the river flows through the facility, spinning a large turbine. As the turbine spins, a generator turns, producing renewable energy used by WPS customers.

Otter Rapids Hydro has been generating clean energy for more than 100 years. The plant opened in 1907 and is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It also helps control water levels for the Eagle River lakes system, which is part of the world’s largest chain of freshwater lakes.

New look for a tourist attraction

During the summer of 2022, WPS updated a self-guided tour of Otter Rapids Hydro to help guests learn more about the importance of the facility to the Northwoods region. Originally created in 2001, the tour gives visitors the unique opportunity to learn about clean energy by walking through portions of a working hydroelectric power plant. Visitors also get an up-close look at one of the plant’s electric generators.

During the self-guided tour, visitors also can:

  • See an aerial view of the plant, including its fishing and canoeing areas that are open to the public.
  • Visit kiosks to find out more about the plant’s history and construction.
  • View information on how electricity is produced inside the plant’s powerhouse.

WPS operates 17 hydroelectric power plants in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, including Otter Rapids Hydro. The plants are part of WPS’ commitment to a bright, sustainable future for the customers and communities it serves.