Fox Wisconsin Heritage Parkway

A non-profit organization dedicated to the improvement and preservation of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers.

Appendix C: Cultural Figures

Several national cultural figures emerged from Fox-Wisconsin corridor. These include authors, artists, humanitarians, naturalists, and entertainers, many of which derived their inspiration from the culture and landscape of the riverway.

Green Bay

Walter W. “Red” Smith (1905-82), born in Green Bay, rose to become on of America’s most widely read sports writers. In 1976, he became the first sports writer to win a Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

Earl L. “Curly” Lambeau (1898-1965), born in Green Bay, founded the Green Bay Packers in 1919. The team was backed by his employer, a meatpacking company, and went on to win more championships than any other professional football team.

Vince Lombardi (1913-70) was the Green Bay Packers head coach from 1959-67, winning five NFL championships during his nine years. The success of his team made Wisconsin a national center of pro football. In 1971, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Edna Ferber (1885-1968) used her life in Appleton for the source of much of her writing, breaching topics on families, small towns, and working women. In 1925, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel, So Big. In 1926, her book, Show Boat, was made into a musical comedy.

Harry Houdini (1884-1926) grew up in Appleton, is considered the most famous magician and escape artist of all time. With his escape act, he toured the United States, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Russia.


Helen Farnsworth Mears (1872-1916) was born in Oshkosh, and was one of the most prestigious female sculptors of the 19th century. Her most important works include the statue of Frances E. Willard held at the U.S. Capital in Washington, portrait reliefs of Edward MacDowell held at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and portrait busts of George Rodgers Clark and William T.G. Morton, M.D. held at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.

Fond du Lac

Owen Gromme (1896-1991), born in Fond du Lac, was known as the dean of wildlife painters. He was the first artist honored by the American Museum of Wildlife Art. In 1978, Ducks Unlimited named him its “Artist of the Year.”


John Muir (1838-1914) grew up on his family’s Fountain Lake Farm near Montello, was the foremost American conservationist of the 19th and 20th centuries. It was here he later said, near the banks of the Fox River, that he first became interested in conservation and the environment.


Zona Gale (1874-1938), born in Portage, was a nationally known author of novels, short stories, plays, and articles focusing on the lives of women. She was a women’s rights activist and University of Wisconsin regent. In 1921, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her play Mss Lulu Bett.

Frederick Jackson Turner (1861-1932), born in Portage, was a University of Wisconsin historian who is most known for developing the “Frontier Thesis,” which claimed that westward expansion helped to develop American democracy. In 1932, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his thesis.

Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) lived and worked near Portage, was an American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist. He is considered the “Father of Wildlife Management,” and was one of the most influential modern ecologists, developing modern environmental ethics and the movement for wilderness preservation. His work, A Sand County Almanac, describes the environment near his home in Sauk County.


Albert Ochsner (1858-1925), born in Baraboo, was a surgeon who was a pioneer in microscopy and made many contributions to medical literature on topics ranging from hospital organization, advances in the treatment of hernias, to treatment of appendicitis.

Albert Ringling (1852-1916) established the Ringling Brothers Circus in Baraboo. He was a leader in the development of the modern circus, gaining world-wide recognition.

Sauk City

August Derleth (1909-71) born in Sauk City, was a prolific writer and anthologist. The author of over 200 books, his works included poetry, nature, journal, and the fictional Walden West. Derleth drew much of his inspiration from Wisconsin, drawing the most detailed literary picture of the state.

Richland Center

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), born in Richland Center, is known as one of the world’s greatest architects of the 20th century. He worked in Wisconsin for most of his life, designing houses, public buildings, churches, and commercial structures throughout the United States and the World. His ground-breaking organic architecture, known as the Prairie Style, emphasized the building’s association to its surroundings. Along the Parkway, Wrights most famous works include Taliesin in Spring Green, A.D. German Warehouse in Richland Center, Hunt House II in Oshkosh, and eight other sites.

Prairie du Chien

William Beaumont (1785-1853) was stationed at Fort Howard and Fort Crawford as surgeon in the U.S. Army, and became known as the “Father of Gastric Physiology” following his research on human digestion.