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city, seat (1853) of Washington county, southeastern Wisconsin, U.S. It lies on a bend in the Milwaukee River, about 35 miles (55 km) northwest of Milwaukee. Potawatomi and Menominee Indians were early inhabitants of the area. The city was founded in 1845 and became a stopping place on the road between Milwaukee and Fond du Lac. The river's waterpower was used for sawmills and gristmills, and the community became an agricultural trade centre. The arrival of the railroad in 1873 spurred growth. In 1961 West Bend annexed the village of Barton, contiguous to the north