Fox Wisconsin Heritage Parkway

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

Our Blog

Celebrating a Summer of Paddling: Appleton Locks Paddle

On Saturday, September 24th, the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Paddle celebrated a successful season of paddling on the Fox River with the final trip of the season, the 2nd annual Fox River Locks Paddle. Nearly 120 paddle crafts made the 6-mile journey, from Lutz Park in Appleton to Sunset Point Park in Kimberly.

Video of the event, courtesy of WI Paddle

The paddle went through all four of the historic Appleton locks. The locks, constructed between 1848 and the late 1870s, are located along Appleton’s downtown and are part of the historic Fox River lock system that connected the Great Lakes with ports on the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.

Declining usage forced closure of the locks in the mid-19th century. After a massive restoration effort, the locks reopened in 2006.

The Fox River lock system remains one of only two hand-operated lock systems left in the United States.

View a photo album of the event, courtesy of David Horst of Up on the Sandhill.

After the event, several paddlers attended a reunion for the families of former Fox River lock tenders at the Paper Discovery Center. This event was part of the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway’s effort to record the history of the locks, as well as the history of the men and their families who lived in the government homes at the seventeen Fox River locks.

The Parkway is continuing to gather more information about the locktenders from DePere to Portage. If you have any information about the locktenders, including the whereabouts of lockmasters, descendants, photos or any items of interest, or are interested in assisting with this project, please contact

    One Comment

    • Shirley Rogers says:

      My husband Clifford Rogers is a descendant of Louis Rogers who was the locktender for the 2nd and 3rd locks in Kaukauna,WI, and his brother John Rogers tended the 4th and 5th locks in same area. The father of John and Louis was Charley, and his first tended the 4th/5th locks.
      Shirley Rogers

    Leave a Comment