Written By: Amy Karas, Convention Sales Representative
I had the pleasure of joining a Fox Cities press tour group of travel writers to check out the newest attraction in the Fox Cities, a historic locks tour. This tour is put on by the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway group. President Candice Mortara arranged for 2 pontoon boats with drivers and a historian to pick our group up at the public dock just before Appleton lock #2, a short walk from Pullman’s restaurant. The tour took us through Appleton locks #2, #3, #4, Cedars, and ending at the Little Chute Guard Lock.
Once there, we had the opportunity to tour the Little Chute lock tender house which is currently being restored to reflect its 1910-era heritage. The lock tender house will eventually be available as a rental property for nightly guests.
The day offered perfect weather for boating, a sunny Saturday with a light breeze; and we were able to see wildlife including turtles, pelicans, ducks, orioles and an eagle. The historians on board offered information about the history of the locks which were built in the 1850’s in order to navigate around the dams. The locks are still hand-operated by a lock tender, and we were able to see how they operate. We also learned about some of the landmarks along the way including the old railroad swing bridge located near Appleton lock #3, and the Vulcan Street hydroelectric plant, which is now Atlas Coffee Mill adjacent to the Paper Discovery Center.
The long term vision of this group is to obtain a paddle boat to take larger groups through the locks and to provide live music, cocktails and possibly light hors d oeuvres. If you’d like to navigate the locks on your own, you can see them by boat, canoe or kayak. Boaters will have to pay a day pass depending on the size of the boat ($6 for under 26 feet or $12 for over). There are spots to pull kayaks and canoes out of the water to avoid the lock user fee. The Appleton and Cedars locks are open May 22 – September 7, 2015 on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays from 11am – 11pm . For more information on the Fox River lock locations, schedule and fees, please visit www.foxriverlocks.org.
Parties interested in a historic lock tour should contact the Fox Wisconsin Heritage Parkway at (920) 707-2965 or email@example.com. For more information about this nonprofit organization, their initiatives and events, please visit www.heritageparkway.org.