During the last Wisconsin glaciation the advance of the Grantsburg sublobe blocked drainage, resulting in the formation of Glacial Lake Grantsburg. Natural succession eventually formed the extensive peat marshes known today as Crex Meadows.
Prior to white settlement in the mid-1800's, the Fox, Dakota and Chippewa Indians used Crex extensively. Large scale commercial drainage, begun about 1890, upset the entire ecological pattern. The vast operations of the Crex Carpet Company, started in 1911, involved harvesting and shipping the native wire grass, Carex stricta, from which Crex probably derived its name. For two decades this industry was economically important to this area.
Exploited to the fullest, Crex has withstood the ravages of time. Today, under the ownership of the State of Wisconsin, prescribed burning and water management are restoring the prairie flora and fauna of Crex meadows.