Logan High School: What's in a Name?

Posted by Scott on May 21, 2018

(written by David Kranz, former Archives Staff)

Sources of the names of most La Crosse schools aren’t too hard to figure out.  For example, Lincoln Middle School memorializes Abraham Lincoln, Emerson Elementary evokes Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Southern Bluffs Elementary is located near bluffs at the southern end of the city.

Hintgen and Spence elementary schools aren’t quite so easy, but they are named in honor of prominent educators of La Crosse’s past: Josephine Hintgen and Harry Spence.

But why Logan High School?

The short answer is that Logan High School is named after Logan Street.  Today Logan Street is closed next to Logan Middle School, but Logan Street used to run along that school block.  In the 1800s, a school was built there and people called it the Logan School because of the street it was on.  Later, that school was replaced with a new building that, with further additions, eventually became a combined junior high and senior high school, both under the name Logan.  In the late 1970s, a new high school was built on La Crosse’s North Side and the Logan High students and staff moved to that new location and took the Logan High name with them.


900 block of Logan Street, looking west from Charles Street, ca. 1930s-40s.  The house in the foreground is 917 Logan Street; it and the commercial buildings pictured are still standing.  The one-story home in the deep distance at the NW corner of Logan Street and Liberty Street no longer exists because of the expansion of Logan Middle School.


But that’s hardly complete as an answer. Why was it called Logan Street? How do you figure out how a street got its name?

One place to look is in the La Crosse Public Library Archives’ records of Common Council resolutions.  Many resolutions related to streets, in particular, have been organized in the LPL Archives by street name.  Not every resolution exists in the files, but it can be worth a look.  You can access the historical city council resolutions by visiting the Archives’ Reading Room on the second floor of La Crosse Public Library’s Main Street location and asking about them.

Here’s an example of a resolution that helps to address the Logan Street question:


Among La Crosse Common Council resolutions related to Logan Street is this one from Feb. 17, 1888, proposing that the name of a North Side street that had been called Cameron Street be changed to “Logan’s Street.”


Now you know! Well, now you know something – you know when the Logan Street name was officially proposed. The resolution doesn’t say why or explain who Logan was.

But now, with a date and the knowledge that the city council was involved in the street naming, you could look for further detail in the La Crosse Tribune by using the microfilm at the LPL Archives.  (The Archives staff can help you get started with the microfilm.) 

A logical starting point would be to look for coverage of the city council meeting that approved this resolution.  Sure enough, a Feb. 18, 1888, newspaper verifies that the resolution passed.  However, the article does not add any explanation for why the name Logan was selected.

The article did provide some historical context.  Several streets were being renamed at the time because the U.S. Post Office was seeking to eliminate duplicate street names within cities to make mail delivery more efficient.  La Crosse had a Cameron Avenue on the South Side and a Cameron Street on the North Side.  Initially, the plan had been to rename Cameron Avenue on the South Side to Colwell Street, but someone on the council argued that Cameron Avenue was the older street, so Cameron Street on the North Side should be changed instead.  The aldermen of the North Side wards were asked to choose a name.  As seen in that city council resolution, "Logan's Street" was the choice.

That still does not fully answer our query, however. Who was Logan?

Doug Connell, a volunteer at the LPL Archives, spent some time using microfilm to read through newspapers from around the time of the Cameron-to-Logan name change resolution, and he found a very brief mention of the topic:


The best answer we found comes from these four lines, tucked in with other random “North Side Briefs” on page 5 of the Feb. 18, 1888, issue of the La Crosse Republican and Leader newspaper.


As it turns out, John A. Logan had been a general for the Union in the Civil War and had served as a state senator, a U.S. representative and a U.S. senator from Illinois.  In 1884, he ran for vice president.

Logan also was prominent in the movement to establish the annual Decoration Day activities in the North after the Civil War and encouraged recognition of the day as a nationwide holiday – a holiday we now observe as Memorial Day.

Logan had died in 1886, and apparently someone on the North Side felt it appropriate to name a street after him in 1888.

Since 1979, however, Logan High School has been on Ranger Drive. In that year, the current Logan High School building was completed and opened for use, separating Logan High School students from Logan Middle School students. The name Logan High School traveled to the new school with its students, whose school teams are called the Logan Rangers.  Which is probably fair turnabout – the school named after a street is now located on a street named after the school’s mascot.

Some additional information about the history of Logan High School can be seen on the school’s website.

Now you know more about Logan High School and Logan Street as well as the archival research process.  So, if you are curious about some aspect of local history, consider visiting the LPL Archives located on the second floor of the library at 800 Main St. and see what materials could address your question.  Your curiosity could very well become “history”!