Having had an opportunity to travel many parts of the world, I must admit I do love being in the American Mid west in the summer time, especially Wisconsin. There is something about the bright sun, the numerous lakes, farms, barns and open roads that makes my heart sing and hop into the car for a drive. Maybe soon, I will start riding like many others out here in WI:-)
Today was one of the days where I felt like driving and exploring the area near Appleton, Wisconsin. Driving by Stevens Point and a whole host of towns and lakes via US 10, it was just a beautiful day to be out in Wisconsin.
Driving through College Avenue , I noticed a sign saying ‘Locks’. Being a lover of water and engineering, it was natural for me to turn and want to see what it was all about. Much to my joy, I drove through the side streets of Appleton to land at the Fratello’s restaurant.
It was just the perfect spot to land in after an afternoon of driving and being in the sun. Sitting outside listening to the sound of the water , watching the pelicans and being in nature was just the right thing to do. I was greeted by a wonderful hostess Lexi, who gave me an overview of the area.
The Lower Fox begins at the north end of Lake Winnebago, where it flows north past Neenah, Menasha, and Appleton as it begins its 40-mile (64 km) course northeast towards Lake Michigan. The river drops around 164 feet (50 m) over this short stretch. Prior to the construction of European-style dams after 1850, the river had many sizable rapids. The Lower Fox ends after flowing through the city of Green Bay and into Lake Michigan through Green Bay. Altogether, the Fox-Wolf watershed drains an area of about 6,429 square miles (16,650 km2), giving the Fox an average discharge rate of 4132 ft3/s (117 m3/s) into the bay.
This area was initially settled by the French. Given the extensive water available and the availability of timber, many paper manufacturers have made this home including Kimberly Clark, Northern Paper Mills and Hoberg Paper company.
While I am not sure about this fact , I did see on my phone on some website that the world’s first hydro electric power was produced in Appleton on September 30, 1882. If that’s true, I am blessed again to be witness to one of the key events in the evolution of human kind and technology at its very roots.
Having had a couple of local ale’s ( of course – one cannot leave without trying local beers in Wisconsin), I shared some of my stories of being in a mill in England with Lexi. She indicated that I needed to go into the restaurant and see some of the old pictures of when there was electricity being generated here.
One can see that the I-beam in the picture still exists in the restaurant today at the right!! Love it!! It is these engineering ingenuities from the past that are still retained that make me appreciate the wonderful folks who go to great lengths to preserve our journey as humans over time.
Post this, I said my goodbyes at the restaurant ( I am sure I will be back) and went on my merry way back driving through Wisconsin.
Post this, I continued on my drive through Wisconsin where the sun’s up till 9 pm in summer at times. Passing by the corn fields, the red barns and tons of industrial and agricultural history, it is amazing to see what the original explorers built and what the hard working folks at central WI farms do in today’s smart phone age.
Travel on all and come and say hi to the wonderful folks in WI while you learn the history of lakes and great industries around here!!!