Fox Wisconsin Heritage Parkway

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

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Locktender House Lodging Project

The Parkway is continuing work to restore and transform the historic locktender houses into overnight vacation rentals along the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway.


The Parkway has recently made headway in the renovations needed to turn the locktender houses into overnight lodgings. The first purchase is 42 doors from a 1920’s dormitory that was part of a teachers college in Union Grove Wisconsin. These doors will now be present at each house, ushering people to step into the history that each house holds. Have you ever wanted to have a reason to use a skeleton key? Well now you will have one, each door will be equipped with locks to fit these unique keys. Along with the doors the Parkway has also acquired four claw foot tubs, 6 sinks, and push button light switches. All of the items will help to set the tone for these one of a kind pieces of history.


Based on similar historic lodging programs, such as Canal Quarters along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, this system of homes along the Fox-Wisconsin Water Trail would provide recreationalists the unique opportunity to stay right on the water as they make their way through the river system. The Parkway has been working closely with Fox River Navigational System Authority (FRNSA) and Friends of the Fox on this project since 2012.

With significant renovation and updates to the houses, many of which have remained vacant since the mid twentieth century, planners envision a series of “upgraded hostels” that would appeal to boaters, paddlers or bicyclists. The locktenders homes would accommodate individuals as well as families, with the potential option of renters even operating the nearby locks for the length of their stay if they desired.

Eight locktender houses exist along the system—four on the Lower Fox, two on the Upper Fox and two on the Lower Wisconsin. The hope is to have all houses available for rental, with renovation beginning at the Cedars lockhouse on the Lower Fox, located in Little Chute.

FRNSA commissioned a study of adaptive reuse of the De Pere Fox River Lock. Completed in 2011, the plan details potential renovation plans that could be adapted for the other homes, which are similar in construction.

This project coincides with several efforts to restore and enhance the Fox-Wisconsin river system. Since 2005, FRNSA has worked to rebuild and operate the Fox River lock system. Eight locks are now in operation, in De Pere, Little Chute, Appleton and Menasha. FRNSA has scheduled rebuilding for the Kaukauna Locks in 2013 -2014. In addition, the Eureka Lock on the Upper Fox was restored by the Berlin Boat Club and reopened in 2012.

The Parkway and Friends of the Fox have partnered to develop the Fox-Wisconsin Water Trail, a non-contiguous water trail that will stretch the entire length of the Heritage Parkway and provide greater recreational access to the rivers. In 2009, these groups began inserting portages for through the locks.

In 2012, the Water Trail Committee made significant strides toward formalizing the water trail by applying for designation as a National Water Trail through the National Park Service. This designation would help build resources and recognition of the Parkway region.

The Parkway organization is currently seeking volunteers to assist with the renovation of the first lockhouse, as well as the many other projects currently underway throughout the Parkway region. Please contact Candice Mortara, FWHP President, to indicate your interest or to learn more:

    One Comment

    • Judi Berg/gallenberger says:

      My father was James Gallenberger. We lived at the Appleton Lock 1. Im so happy to hear they are going to restore these
      homes. Your ideas are so great. I feel it would be a great
      success. If you need in put into this endeavor. I would be happy to assist.I lived at the Lock 1 from 1964-1971. Family lived their until 1984 when locks were closed and
      my Dad then retired.

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