Fox Locks Timeline: History at a Glance!

Posted on Sep 16, 2019 by

Another fantastic season for the Fox Locks is in the books! Thank you to all of you who traveled through the locks and every year we hope to make improvements in the experience. Many don’t remember that the locks system has not been in operation since the early 1980s, so an entire generation has grown up without the experience of traveling through the historic lock system.

Speaking of history, here’s a quick look at notable dates and events for the lock system:

1825 Construction of Erie Canal completed, idea of connecting Green Bay and Prairie du Chien via water becomes reality.

1848 Wisconsin becomes a state.

1849 Construction begins on Fox & Wisconsin River improvements

1851 Contracts awarded for lock construction at Kaukauna and Little Chute

1866 Wisconsin Improvement Company, owner of the lock project, declared bankruptcy

1870 Green Bay and Mississippi Canal Company takes over management of the locks

1872 United States Army Corps of Engineers acquires navigational control of the waterway

1886 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers abandons Wisconsin River portion of locks system

1922 Dredging for commercial traffic on the Fox River halts

1959 Last vessel navigates the full length of the Fox River

1982 Army Corps of Engineers recommends the lock system is dismantled

1984 Local citizens and elected officials start a campaign to fund and keep the locks open

1993 Individual locks named to the National Register of Historic Places, part of the National Park Service.

2001 State statute 237 creates the Fox River Navigational System Authority

2004 Ownership of the lock system is transferred from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the State of Wisconsin

2005 Repair and renovation begins on the lock system

2015 All locks are restored to full operational functionality

Fall 2015: Menasha Lock voluntarily closed due to discovery of Round Goby in Little Lake Butte des Morts.

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