Category: History

Summer fun in the Fox Cities!

Written by: Karen Treml, Visitor Services Coordinator 

With summer in full swing, the Fox Cities is bursting with events and things to do and see. It’s easy when you live here year-round, with the hustle and bustle of your everyday schedules, to overlook and miss, not only events, but also the great areas we have to explore. We decide to take some weekend time checking out a few events and exploring a little more of our area.

Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass Annual Art Festival
Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass Annual Art Festival

We started our morning in Kimberly at the Old Glory Café for breakfast. The restaurant is decorated to honor our Military and service members, the wait-staff was friendly and helpful, and the food was excellent! We then drove to Neenah for the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass 41st Annual Arts Festival in Riverside Park – A great event to walk around and view the work of hundreds of artists.

We also took this opportunity to take a walk through part of Neenah’s historical district. It showcases many of the historical mansions that were once the homes of some very prominent and influential people of our local paper industry in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Part of the tour takes you past the Kimberly Point Lighthouse at Kimberly Point Park, where the Fox River and Lake Winnebago meet; a great spot to take in the views of both the river and the lake.

Paper Baron Mansion
Havilah Babcock House, Neenah Historical Tour
Kimberly Point Lighthouse
Photo credit: Appleton Old Car Show
Photo credit: Appleton Old Car Show

The next stop was the Old Car Show & Swap Meet at Pierce Park in Appleton. This event was free and featured antique collector cars & trucks; almost 1,000 vehicles to view! The also had live music and food to enjoy while walking around the park. This was a fun relaxing day and a great way to enjoy the summer weather and take in a lot of what our area has to offer!

Summer seems to be flying by, so make sure you get out to some of these great events and take some time to explore the area! From farm markets, live music, art shows and sporting events; the Fox Cities has something for everyone! Check our website for a full listing of upcoming events and things to see!

Fox Cities Historic Locks Tour

Appleton Lock2

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. Little Chute Lock House

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.

Appleton Lock 3Appleton Lock 4

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

Parties interested in a historic lock tour should contact the Fox Wisconsin Heritage Parkway at (920) 707-2965 or For more information about this nonprofit organization, their initiatives and events, please visit

Memorial Day Weekend in the Fox Cities

Memorial Day Flag

Written By: Karen Treml, Visitor Services Coordinator

Looking for ideas to fill your Memorial Day Weekend? The Fox Cities has some great events happening that will keep your schedule full and fun! Plan your trip today!

Division 3 Baseball Tournament
Hoping to catch some sports on your Memorial Day weekend? The NCAA D3 Baseball Championship is in town! The top eight teams from across the country will compete to determine a national champion, taking place at Fox Cities Stadium. Check their website for details.

Appleton Downtown Farm Market
It might not be summer quite yet but you can enjoy Appleton’s Farm Market year-round! The Farm Market is held every Saturday in downtown Appleton, inside City Center. With more than 50 vendors selling fruits & vegetables, meats & cheeses, breads & baked goods, eggrolls, popcorns, specialty foods and handcrafted items, there’s something for everyone. And don’t forget to leave yourself some extra time to explore the rest of the downtown area. There are plenty of shops, boutiques, museums, and restaurants to fill your day with fun! Visit their website for more information.

When Neenah Came Marching Home – Remembering the Sacrifice of Neenah’s Civil War Soldiers
This new exhibit is featured at the Neenah Historical Society is honoring the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and focuses on local information and unique artifacts  that tell the story of Neenah’s own Civil War Soldiers and the community to which they returned to. You can view the exhibit on Sunday afternoons from 1-4pm, or by appointment. Visit their website for more details.

Spring Baby Farm Animal Tour at Mulberry Lane Farms
Looking for some family fun on your Memorial Day weekend?  Spring comes to life at the farm.  Baby chicks, baby ducklings, baby kid goats, baby lambs, baby piglets, baby calves, baby ponies, baby kittens, baby bunnies… oh baby, they have babies! Tours include: Milk a cow, ride a pony, enjoy a hay ride, catch a chicken, kiss a pig, cuddle a kitten & more! Check their website for details.

Appleton Memorial Day Parade
What’s Memorial Day without a parade?! The parade starts at 9am on College Avenue in Downtown Appleton and ends at Riverside Cemetery at approximately 11am, followed by a “Moment of Remembrance” Ceremony at The George D. Eggleston, G.A.R. Monument honoring our veterans. Visit the City of Appleton’s website for more details.

Light up your Fox Cities visit with NEON!

Written by: Mary Rhode, Marketing & Communications Manager

I had the opportunity to get a sneak peak at the new exhibit opening up at the History Museum at the Castle. The exhibit is called NEON: Darkness Electrified and opened Nov. 12 and runs until Fall 2015. Being so passionate about marketing and advertising, I knew this exhibit would be right up my alley. Most of these signs were once on the sides of businesses in Wisconsin and other states. For those businesses that had more money to spend on their sign, they had flashing lights to attract more attention to their business. From large to small, these signs illuminate the past including some signs from the 1930’s. Even though these signs are quite beautiful to look at, there is also an educational component to this exhibit. For instance, I learned what makes neon glow and that the famous Northern Lights are created by the same phenomenon!

photo 1 (1)Today, when most people think of neon signs, they think of the beer signs that illuminate the windows of their favorite bar or restaurant. As this exhibit shows you, the beer signs of yesteryear were much simpler, yet still remain an iconic look at the past.

One of the more interesting displays, in my opinion, was the Florida Power Corporation photo 2 (2) (2)sign. This sign, circa 1950’s boasts blue, red and white glowing neon as well as the face of a character known as Reddy Kilowatt. This character was used nationwide to promote the use of electricity in the 1950’s. There even was a large sign with Reddy displayed along the Fox River in Appleton during that time.

High Cliff State Park…a geological gem

Posted by: Amy Karas, Convention Sales Representative

Growing up in Door County, I was surrounded by scenic shoreline and had plenty of parks available for swimming or hiking. When I moved to Appleton 9 years ago, I was excited to find that I could still enjoy nature while living in a bigger city. One of my favorite places to hike is at High Cliff State Park. The park is located on the northeastern shore of Lake Winnebago in Sherwood, Wisconsin, just a short 15 to 20 minute drive from Appleton, Wisconsin, the Fox Cities’ largest community.

High Cliff1High Cliff State Park has over 26 miles of trails including the Bike and Horse trails, Forest Management Trail, Butterfly Pond Trail, Indian Mound Trail and the Lime-Kiln Trail which is the one I hiked this past Thursday with friends and family. This trail is a combination of hiking near the Winnebago shoreline, in the steep Niagra Escarpment and through the kiln remains. From 1895 to 1956 a company town operated the limestone quarry in this area. All that remains today are the kiln ruins and the store. I have included pictures of the kiln ruins and other beautiful scenery from the Lime-Kiln Trail.

There are many other activities to do at High Cliff State Park for any season although the spring, summer and fall have the largest variety including picnicking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, boating, biking, horseback riding and fishing. It is definitely worth climbing the tower to look out across the fields from the observation deck.

High Cliff3I have also utilized the group campsites which can hold up to 60 people and are separate from the family campground. The field in the middle of the group sites is perfect for volleyball nets and other recreational activities. During the winter months, the trails are converted to snowshoe and cross country ski paths as well. Visitors do need a state park sticker for entry. Day passes are also available.

The scenic 18-hole High Cliff Public Golf Course is located just outside of the park and overlooks the Niagra Escarpment and Winnebago shoreline. High Cliff Restaurant and Banquets is also just outside of the park and is open year round for events. If camping is not your thing, but you would still like to experience the park, golf course or banquet hall, arrange to stay at the High Cliff Resort Suites in Sherwood or any of our Fox Cities hotels just a short drive away.

Affordable family fun with a purpose!

Posted by:  Mary Ann Minten, Group Visitor Services Coordinator

get-attachmentLooking for an enjoyable, affordable family fun trip?  Not only is the Weis Earth Science Museum that, it is also a fantastic educational experience for all ages.  Located at the University of Wisconsin Fox Valley campus in Menasha, budget about an hour of your time as this well kept and laid out museum takes you to the roots of the earth….right down to the core!  At only $2 for adults and $1 for children, it’s a welcome break from staying home on an unpredictable Wisconsin weather day!

I enjoyed seeing the displays of unique rocks and stones, not only from our fine state but from all around the world!  Reading about the different periods of our earth’s development in a well laid out timeline was fascinating to me!  The kids especially enjoyed the fossil rubbing wall.  I think I came home with at least 20 chalk-rubbed sketches of the fossil templates from various time periods…a great educational art project that didn’t mess up my house!

If stones and rocks aren’t enough, see the Tyrannosaurus Rex skull replica in their dinosaur den.  They include an interesting story on his life and battles he might have fought as indicated by the missing bone fragments.

While there I noticed an area that was closed for a future exhibit.  I found out that the director is putting together a “Touching the Earth” exhibit for the blind and visually impaired to experience the various textures of rocks and fossils.  This will have braille and large print materials to get the complete experience.  She will also be adding blindfolds so everyone can experience this exhibit from a tactile sense as intended.  As a parent I know how every child loves to touch, so I can see this being a great time for all!

Thanks Weis Earth Science Museum for a great ‘field’ trip. I can’t wait to go back and ‘touch’ the new exhibit!

For more information visit:

Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion

posted by: Pam Seidl

Pam Seidl
Director of Marketing & Community Relations
Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau

Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion is currently on exhibit at The History Museum at the Castle… and it is spectacular. On display are 40 operational, actual-size working machine replicas of da Vinci’s amazing machines, all built by modern day scientists and artisans according to da Vinci’s famous codices. The exhibit includes a revolving crane, a full-size armored tank large enough for several visitors to explore from the inside, a working robot, and four flying machines.

My favorite was the tank. It looks like a giant hut and needs six people to fully operate it, but the fact that da Vinci had the vision to design it four decades before we began using this type of machinery is amazing. 

The exhibit is very kid-friendly… you can operate almost every piece … and truly illustrates the genius of da Vinci.   And you thought he just did that little painting at the Sistine Chapel!