University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

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

Chapter III. Peculiarities of the fox river,   pp. 13-23 PDF (3.3 MB)

Page 14

could scarcely have been the present one. The Wolf River now
heads in Forest County and flows a hundred miles south to its
present junction with the Fox, a few miles west of Oshkosh, and
then its waters reverse their direction and flow 125 miles north-
ward from Oshkosh to the foot of Green Bay before they reach
Lake Michigan. This is certainly an unusual procedure. (See
plate IV.)
The natural course of this part of the river has been so interfered
with by glacial deposits that the present course bears little
resemblance to the original one. At present the river winds for
107 miles with a sluggish flow through a maze of marshes and
lakes, with an average fall of only 4 inches to the mile. Near
Portage both the Wisconsin River and the Upper Fox flow in
horse-shoe curves and come so close together (about a mile and a
quarter) that at times of very high floods the Wisconsin over-
flows into the Fox. A canal now connects the rivers and between
Portage and Lake Winnebago nine locks render this part of the
Fox navigable, but it has not been used to any large extent.
The principal tributary of the Fox is the Wolf, a larger river
than the Upper Fox. In the logging days this river and its
branches were used to an enormous extent in driving logs to the
mills, expecially to those at Oshkosh. At one time there were 43
dams on the upper Wolf and its tributaries, built to facilitate
the log-driving operations.
An impressive illustration of the way in which waterpower aids
in building up cities is seen by comparing the upper and lower
portions of the Fox. More manufacturing is done at any one of
several rapids on the Lower Fox than is done on the entire 107
miles of the upper river; Berlin, with 4700 population, is the only
city on this portion of the river, while there are 6 cities all larger
than Berlin, in the 35 miles of the Lower Fox.
This lake is unusual in two respects: (1) It is one of the
largest of the glacial lakes entirely within the limits of one state;
it is 28 miles long and 10.4 miles broad in the widest part, and
covers an area of about 215 square miles.* (2) It is remarkably
* The extreme shallowness of Lake Winnebago may e illustrated thus: take
a sheet of
paper so thin that a pile of 350 sheets is one inch high; cut out an oval
shaped piece 8 inches
wide and 21 inches long; this piece of paper will represent correctly the
proportional length
breadth, and thickness of the sheet of water which forms Lake Winnebago.

Go up to Top of Page