Fox Wisconsin Heritage Parkway

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

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Historic Preservation is Happening at the Vulcan Power Plant Replica

The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway would like to thank all the community members, historic preservation organizations and the City of Appleton for helping with the Vulcan Power Plant Replica painting project. This is an important historical structure, which represents Appleton’s history as a world leader in hydroelectricity and river-based industry. Thank you for all your work to preserve this important piece of history!

This project is the first step in a plan to enhance the interpretive facilities at the site so that visitors may learn more about the history of the building. This will occur in conjunction with new trails that are being installed in the vicinity.

History of the Vulcan Power Plant

The Vulcan Street Power Plant is the world’s first Edison hydroelectric central station, located downtown Appleton. The station provided power to the paper mills and utilized the power of the Fox River created by the drop in elevation as it heads toward Lake Michigan, 167.32 feet in 39 miles.

The station was first put into operation on September 30, 1882. The plan served both private and commercial customers. The original structure was housed in the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company, which burned to the ground in 1891. The City of Appleton erected a replica on South Oneida Street in celebration of the plant’s 50th anniversary.

The replica was constructed based on the original engineering drawings and was intended to be fully operational for the city. It was installed with a large ceremony in 1932, near the Wisconsin Michigan Power Company’s headquarters on Oneida Street. In 1977, the replica was designated as a National Historic Engineering Landmark.  It was donated to the City of Appleton in 1985 and moved to its current location in 1987.

View the 1977 landmark dedication ceremony booklet

The replica is located on the banks of the Fox River at the back of the parking lot behind Neenah Paper, just to the left of the Lawe Street Bridge. The current location is close to the original Vulcan Power Plant near the Lawe Street Bridge.

Telling the Story

In recent years, there has been a movement to restore the replica to it’s original condition and create opportunities to tell the story of the plant’s historic significance. Currently, the Vulcan Heritage Park, located a mile from the replica, features several interpretive panels that tell the story of Appleton’s hydroelectric heritage. The painting of the structure is part of an ongoing effort to preserve the replica in its current location. The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway is making plans to install historic signage at the site to encourage visitors to learn more about Appleton’s contributions to water power world-wide.

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