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Shattuck, S. F., et. al (ed.) / A history of Neenah
(1958)

The Cunningham era in perspective,   pp. 3-11 ff. PDF (2.8 MB)


Page 9


THE CUNNINGHAM ERA
main body of the island, with a thin strip on the northeast corner left
for Menasha. Thus, it becomes easy to follow the thinking of citizens
and legislators of that day. It is obvious that a half section line was
projected from west to east across the island, with approximately half
of the land area passing to each community. This was, of course, be-
fore there was a Nicolet Boulevard. There was, however, a wagon road
cut through the bush to connect with a bridge built by Neenah in
i851 and with Menasha's bridge from Tayco Street to the island, built
in 1852. This wagon road later became Neenah's North Commercial
Street and Menasha's Washington Street.
  At some later date this original east-west dividing line was moved
ioo feet south. This new line, which eventually became the center line
of Nicolet Boulevard, extended from Lake Winnebago to the center of
what was then Cedar Street (now North Commercial). From this
point the dividing line jogged north ioo feet along the center of Wash-
ington Street, thence west along the original half section line to Little
Lake Butte des Morts. Thus, the present division of the island is not
along a straight line from east to west between the two lakes, but
rather a line with a ioo foot jog at the junction of Neenah's North
Commercial and Menasha's Washington Streets.
  The Central Brass Company finds itself on this half sectional line,
with a corner of their building in Neenah and the main body of their
plant in Menasha. The dividing line comes in through an east window
and out a south door!
Significance of the Fox River
  The importance of the Fox River flowing out of Lake Winnebago
and into Green Bay cannot be overestimated as one contemplates the
life of that day. The waters of Green Bay are 163' below the level of
our lake. To make the river navigable for cargo-carrying boats, locks
were necessary. Later the Federal Government took over, but during
the 1840's, the matter of locks was up to private enterprise. The big
question was, where should the first lock be located, on the Neenah
channel or in the branch of the river flowing through Menasha? At a
hearing in 1849, before a Federal Commission meeting in Oshkosh,
Harvey Jones, speaking for the Neenah group, offered to build the lock
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