Village History

The Village of Oliver is a small town community that enjoys the natural setting of the St. Louis River and access to thousands of acres of public land.  We are located between the City of Superior, Wisconsin and City of Duluth, Minnesota, which provides us ease of access to employment, shopping and services, entertainment, social and educational services.

The place that became Oliver may originally have been known as Bear’s First Pause, a well-situated resting point on the canoe route between Fond du Lac and the mouth of the St. Louis River. That name, though, was lost to history by the time the first families moved to Oliver seeking work in the burgeoning steel plant across the river in Morgan Park.

Oliver was incorporated as a village on February 24, 1917 but its village hall and jail had been built four years
earlier and the post office had been there since 1912. Serbian families, with close ties to fellow Serbs in Gary-New Duluth, were the dominant ethnic group. In time the town would have a Catholic church (the Orthodox church was in Gary-New Duluth), bank, a school, several stores, the Hotel Oliver, and several well-known bars including the Palace and Horseshoe.

The town was named after Henry W. Oliver, a dominant force in the nation’s iron ore mining and steel industries. The connection to the steel industry was made manifest when the Oliver Bridge was built, complete with a walkway to allow workers to walk from Oliver to the Morgan Park steel plant.  Oliver Bridge History and Facts and Oliver Bridge

Although nearly every acre was platted by speculators seeking a quick fortune, all but a few of the lots remained unsold and went tax forfeit. What was developed became the “old” Oliver that existed for most of the 20th Century. The town’s reputation was firmly fixed during Prohibition when Oliver was a well-known haven for those with a thirst. But, over the course of the century one by one businesses and services left – the post office, church, school, and all but a couple bars.

But that all quickly changed in the 1990s. Sanitary sewer service was installed and people re- discovered the village’s superb natural setting along the river. Almost overnight “old” Oliver became the “new” Oliver. The now cleaned up St. Louis River was once again seen as a valuable asset. People, desiring larger lots but with urban utilities and located within a convenient commute of Superior and Duluth flocked to Oliver. The main transportation route was no longer the walkway across the Oliver Bridge but Highway 105 leading to Superior. In a decade the village doubled in size in terms of homes.