Downtown 1958

Downtown 1958

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"...and Witness the Prosperity of the Locality..."

Blog reader Don Nussbaum was so kind recently as to forward to me this map and accompanyng articles from the Menasha and Neenah Conservator from November 18, 1858.

He wrote to me, "I never realized that there were schemes afoot for six different railroads through Menasha before a single rail was laid. Amazing. Most didn't make it. That's all in addition to a plank road, a wagon bridge across Little Butte des Morts, a dry dock, a steamboat transfer station and the Fox/Wisconsin Improvement. Quite a transportation hub." 
And as I told Don, it never ceases to amaze me to think of the hopes and dreams of our forefathers for Menasha in the early days; they had such high aspirations that our fair city would out-eclipse Milwaukee as a commercial center for Wisconsin. This railroad scheme falls right in line with that sort of thinking. 
Notice in the railroad map how Little Lake Butte des Morts is, again, referred to as Peepeek Lake and how the article talks about Mackinnon Avenue bisecting Doty Island.  In due time, this street will be referred to as just "The Avenue," and eventually be rededicated as Nicolet Boulevard. 
Thanks again, Don.


  1. Don Nussbaum has contributed another jewel to this blog. These fanciful schemes of railroads, steamboats, economic power, etc., were certainly not confined to Menasha. Rather, many entrepreneurs were advancing similar schemes for their own cities and towns all over the country.For a good examination of how Neenah and Menasha evolved from the mid-1800s to about the time of World War I, read Factories in the Valley: Neenah Menasha, 1870-1915 by Charles N. Glaab.

  2. Kudos to Don and David for making this fascinating information on railroads and transportation means available to us!!