city, seat (1846) of Waukesha county, southeastern Wisconsin, U.S. It is situated on the Fox River, about 15 miles (25 km) west of Milwaukee. The site was settled by Morris D. Cutler in 1834 near a Potawatomi Indian village and called Prairieville. In 1846 it was renamed Waukesha (Potawatomi: "By the Little Fox"). A station on the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves, it was an abolitionist centre before the American Civil War and was where the antislavery American Freeman was published from 1844 to 1848. From about 1870 to 1910, Waukesha was a health resort known for its mineral springs (which were said to possess the ability to cure ailments); later, until the mid-20th century, its mud baths were a popular tourist attraction. Diversified industries-including foundries, food processing, printing, and the manufacture of medical equipment, electrical equipment, and engines-are now economic mainstays.
Learn more about Waukesha with a free trial on Britannica.com.