Like the villages of Quechee and White River Junction, Wilder was once the site of a mammoth plant of the International Paper Company for the production of newspaper and pulp. Originally the location was called Olcott Falls, named for the family that built a canal and dam around the falls. However, a Mr. Wilder, who was responsible for the building of the paper mill, also drew the plans for the village including bridges, streets, and location of important buildings. Thus, the change in name from Olcott Falls to Wilder.
Located just north of White River Junction, Wilder is the site of the Wilder Dam and Salmon Ladder, one of TransCanada's hydroelectric dams that dot the length of the Connecticut River. The village also includes several newly-developed, technologically modern commercial parks as well as a Community College of Vermont site and home to a public transportation company.
Its proximity to Hanover's workplaces and its two recreation parks, the Dothan Brook Elementary School and its sense of the importance of neighborhoods, has made it one of the town's most desirable residential communities.