Fox Wisconsin Heritage Parkway

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

Little Chute Locktender History and Information

View from across the canal, looking West

View from across the canal, looking West

Little Chute Locktender Information Research done by Gene Janssen, member of the Little Chute Historical Society September 5th, 2011. Gene Janssen (920-788-2566).

“Toot, Toot, Toot, Toot for Little Chute”. These are the great sounds we heard as kids as the big boats would come up river and approach the Little Chute Locks down at Doyle Park as we were playing down there. We would wave and the captain would give us the big “Toot, Toot, Toot, Toot for Little Chute”. Some were big coal boats like the Mary Jane, bringing coal to the Kimberly Mill to later return empty to go back to Green Bay to refill. Joe Coppus, son of Lock Master Frank Coppus remembers the saying, “One for danger, two for dock, three for bridge, and four for lock”. It was years later when we realized that the “Toot, Toot, Toot, Toot” we heard for was actually the signal for the Lock Tender to open the locks. Many guys were Lock Tenders, but Lock Masters were the men, who with their wives and families, lived in the lock tenders house, some for many years. Another name for the lock house was the river house

Lock Tender Research by Gene Janssen covering 1893 to 1947

The first Lock tender I found was 1860 – listed Louis B. Grigon Lock Tender in Little Chute with a picture of a boat approaching the Little Chute Locks.

No. 1 1893 – 1901 Cornelius Romson Lived Grand Ave and Main in Little Chute.

No. 2 1901 Wm. Van Derey, Lock Tender ??, lived E. Vanden Brock in Little Chute

No. 3 1908 – 1921 Stephen Sanders,Lock Master lived in the Lock Tenders House at River House located Combined Locks lock tenders house in Little Chute

No. 4 1938 – 1 945 Albert C. Gast, Lock Master lived in the Lock Tenders house at 214 Mill St. in Little Chute

No. 5 1938 – 1941 Antone Coppus lived 1137 Depot St. in Little Chute. This is listed as Lock Tender ? Note as per Joe Coppus, Antone was Lock Master in De Pere, but before that covered other Locks from Menasha to De Pere

No. 6 1938 – 1940 Antone De Both

No. 7 1938 – 1947 Henry H. Santkuyl lived at 111 East Main Little Chute, listed as lock tender?

No. 8 1938 – 1941 Philip Cornelius lived 808 N. Madison St. Little Chute, Lock Tender?

No. 9 1940 – 1945 Alois M. Verstegen wife (Della) lived at 225 Grand Ave. in Little Chute. Listed as Lock Tender Cedar Locks, in Little Chute

No. 9 1940 – 1941 Ferdinand G. Bowers wife (Chute)

No. 10 1945 – 1947 and later Harlan M. Wittman, Lock Master lived in the Combined Locks, lock tenders house at 105 Sanitorium Rd. in Little Chute. Later moved to 726 E. Lincoln Ave. in Little Chute.

No. 11 1945 – 1947 Theodore H. Lamers lived at 809 Bluff St. in Little Chute listed as Lock Tender Little Chute. and in 1940-41 list as Lock Tender in Menasha?

No. 12 1947 to ? John Willey, wife( Betty),Lock Master, lived at 214 Mill St.  in Little Chute Locks. He later moved up stream to different locks.

No. 13 1945 -1949 and later Frank Coppus wife (Bertha) lived at 910 E. Park Ave. in Little Chute. He was Lock Tender at Kaukauna.

Locks No1 and No2 he would operate both, sometimes getting a ride on the boat to open up the next locks and sometimes had to walk back to the other one.

No. 14 1945 – 1947 Albert Edgar Verstegen, lived at 327 E. Lincoln Ave. in Little Chute, and served as Lock Tender from Menasha to Little Chute. Later became Lock Inspector in 1945. as well as Ernest J. Verstegen who lived at 403 Grand Ave. in Little Chute served as inspector and 1947 Albert Spierings who lived at 308 Madison St. in Little Chute.

No. 15 1945 Adam Nechdom wife (Hattie) lived at 722 E. Main St. in Little Chute served as lock tender in Kaukauna? What Locks?

No. 16 1930 – 1940s Ruppart Willy, Lock Tender at Wrightstown worked at the Crush Dam may have been Lock Master as per Jim Bogen of Wrightstown.

If anyone has additional information on the history of lock masters and tenders, please contact us.