One of Wisconsin's earliest mining communities, Potosi was settled in 1829 after lead ore was found near St. John Mine. Named for the silver mining town of "Potosi" in Bolivia, South America, the village began as three separate settlements and developed along the steep walls of the narrow valley, incorporating in 1841. Located on the Grant River feeding into the Mississippi, Potosi quickly became a leading shipping point for lead ore and a supplier for inland miners. Potosi was one of the largest communities in the Wisconsin Territory, but its early boom was short-lived: by the late 1840's its port filled with river silt, no longer accommodating large vessels, and the promise of gold in California drew many area miners further west. However, Potosi's mining industry was revived in the later half of the 19th century when zinc, a by-product of lead mining, was produced. The Potosi Brewery, built by Gabriel Hall in 1855, remained an important industry for over a hundred years.