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Whitbeck, R. H., 1871-1939 (Ray Hughes) / The geography of the Fox-Winnebago valley
(1915)

Chapter IV. The navigation of the Fox River past and present,   pp. 24-40 PDF (4.7 MB)


Page 24


GEOGRAPHY OF FOX-WINNEBAGO VALLEY
CHAPTER IV
THE NAVIGATION OF THE FOX RIVER
PAST AND PRESENT
PART OF A FAMous HIsToRic RouTE
Exploration. For more than two centuries the kings of France
laid claim, by right of discovery, to a vast but undefined area in
North America which they called New France. French navi-
gators chanced to discover the mouth of the St. Lawrence River
(1534); by means of this river and the chain of Great Lakes, the
canoes of the French explorers worked their way westward into
the very heart of the continent. One of these explorers, named
Jean Nicolet, sent out by Champlain, Governor of New France,
discovered an arm of Lake Michigan (Green Bay) opening toward
the west; he entered it hoping that it might lead to China which
was supposed to be much nearer than it is, and in 1634 he landed
at some point near the mouth of Fox River, probably at Red
Banks.* Clothed in a gorgeous silken robe and with great pomp
and ceremony, Nicolet met the Winnebago Indians, feasted with
them, and smoked the pipe of friendship. Thus began the French
regime in the Fox River Valley, fifty years before Philadelphia
was founded, and a century before Oglethorp's colony settled
on the coast of Georgia and founded Savannah (1733). Green
Bay was reached by Europeans .135 years before Daniel Boone
and the English colonists from the Atlantic seaboard had pushed
across the eastern mountains and had made their trans-Allegheny
settlements.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RIVERS N HISTORY
This fact raises the question "How did it come about that the
French penetrated into the very heart of the continent before the
English had gained even a narrow coastal strip along the Atlan-
tic?" The answer fittingly introduces the idea of the chapter
* It is maintained by some that the landing took place near the present site
of Menasha.
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