West Bend is a community of more than 31,000, located about 30 miles north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The city was incorporated in 1885 and has been the home of many major businesses, including West Bend Mutual Insurance Company and The West Bend Aluminum Company, which became the West Bend Company. Known for its high quality of life, West Bend is home to some of the region’s best museums, outdoor attractions, shops, parks and more. The city is also the Geocaching Capital of the Midwest™ and geocachers from around the world come to West Bend to enjoy this activity.
West Bend’s history as a city began in the 1800s. An ideal location along the bank of the Milwaukee River led to the founding of West Bend–surveyors in the 1840s identified the location as a perfect halfway stop on the road between Milwaukee and Fond du lac. So why is West Bend called West Bend? It’s located on a bend of the Milwaukee River, on the west side.
A river-powered mill helped the community grow, and in 1873 the railroad arrived, further fueling the community’s expansion. In 1845, West Bend was officially incorporated.
West Bend has been home to some iconic American brands. West Bend Aluminum Company (later West Bend Company) made cookware from 1911 to 2003. Home cooks are still able to buy new, West Bend-made pots and pans—Regal Ware continues to manufacture cookware in West Bend.
West Bend is also home to Gehl Company, a manufacturer of compact construction and agriculture equipment with roots that date to 1859, when a settler named Louis Lucas opened a blacksmith shop in West Bend.
West Bend Mutual Insurance Company is another local company woven into the history of the city. The company formed in 1894 in the wake of two devastating fires. Local business people sought a more affordable insurance solution to protect the community. The effort grew to a company that now offers insurance products to people in 11 states.