Menasha might never have been founded if Governor Doty had had his way during the early years of the Wisconsin Territory. In the late 1830's, Doty eagerly eyed the upcoming railroad charters and coveted one for the Fox Valley to encourage development and economic growth. His idea was to link the village of La Fontaine near Kaukauna with the projected village of Winnebago City, on the north shore of Lake Winnebago. This railroad of 16 miles would eliminate the need to navigate through the Winnebago Rapids (today's Neenah) and Little Lake Butte des Morts and the extra mileage encountered on the Fox River up to La Fontaine. Eventually, the whole scheme fizzled as a result of the Panic of 1837. It was also said that Doty's partner, Morgan Martin (who also happened to be his cousin), had a falling out with the bankers in Green Bay who were nervous about his speculative enterprises.
March 17, 1837 Wisconsin Democrat (Green Bay)
A curious footnote is that my research about the village of La Fontaine begins and ends with the connection to this proposed railroad. I've never seen other mentions of this place. Kakalin, as mentioned on the map, is a former name for Kaukauna, so I at least thought I'd find La Fontaine mentioned in the same breath as Kaukauna, or in connection with the Kakalin Rapids. Any thoughts, readers?