Getting Around Menasha: Steamboats
Image 1: The Flying Merkel.
This brand of motorcycles was produced from 1902-1917. It was known as a racing cycle. For additional information see:
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Image 2: Convertible for two passengers.
This small convertible has been identified as a 1911 Brush runabout, photographed in 1916. The Brush was produced from 1907 through 1913. Both chassis and axles were made of wood. Note the steering wheel is on the right.
For the history of the Brush runabout, see this Smithsonian site:
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Image 3: The John Strange family in car with chauffeur .
This car has been identified as a 1911 Oldsmobile 60.
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Image 4: “Our home and 1911 Cadillac” Frank. E. Grove, Menasha.
The Grove family lived at 418 Broad St . He ran a clothing store at 220 Main Street . Both buildings are still standing in 2007.
Image ID# 1911Cadillac
Image 5: Bicycle road race; July 6, 1895, Menasha Saturday Evening Press.
The term “wheelmen” dates from the days when bicycles had one high wheel.
See an 1882 engraving of high wheel cycles:
“Safety bicycles” with the two evenly sized wheels used today, were introduced in 1885.
The League of American Wheelmen was founded in 1880. It served as a lobbying group for better roads, as well as a social club, organizing races and excursions.
Image 1: B. F. Carter going through the Menasha lock.
Steamboat excursions were popular summer events. An organization would hire the boat, and sometimes arrange for a band to be aboard. Food might be family picnic baskets or catered. The trip might go to High Cliff, Fond du Lac , or Oshkosh . This could be a fund-raiser for the group, or a reward, like modern students earning a field trip to Bay Beach . The B. F. Carter was launched in the spring of 1876 and operated until 1910.
Image 2: Steamboat leaving Menasha dock.
“The Fox” was built in 1892 and operated through 1900.
Image 3: The Paul L. unloading lumber at Menasha Wooden Ware.
Photo dated June 6, 1915. The Public Library is visible in the background.
Image 4: Excursion boats.
The Mystic in the foreground.
Image 5: Boy Scout excursion, July 11, 1911
Scouts aboard “The Adonis” July 11, 1911
Image 6: Post Card of Menasha Lock, 1907.
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Image 6.5: Menasha Lock, 2006.
Note that the crank to close the gates is the same in image 1, image 6, and image 6.5
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Image 7: K.M. Hutchinson at the Menasha dock, 1887.
The dock at this time is at the foot of Racine Street . The K. M. Hutchinson is a sternwheeler, named for its owner, an Oshkosh hardware dealer. It was built in the spring of 1886 and operated until August of 1895.
Note wooden buildings on the water side of Main Street . The Fox River House and the store on the corner of Main and Racine are visible landmarks.
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Image 8: Schedule of steamboats, August 23, 1855, Menasha Advocate.
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Image 9: Schedule of steamboats, May 17, 1856, Menasha Advocate.
Gill's Landing was on the Wolf River three miles east of Weyauwega. Until railroads reached Stevens Point in 1871, the easiest way to travel there from eastern Wisconsin was to take a steamboat to Gills Landing, then a stagecoach the rest of the way.
Image ID#: Steamboats_1856_05
Image 1: Train at Menasha Depot.
Milwaukee & Northwestern Railway passenger train pulled by engine #18.
Image ID#: menashadepottrain
Image 2: Menasha Wooden Ware Boxcar.
Menasha Wooden Ware Company had its own boxcars. The men pictured were part of the crew which maintained the cars in 1905.
Image 3: Wisconsin Central schedule, June 25, 1898, Menasha Breeze.
Image ID#: RRtimes_1898_06_25
Image 4: Wisconsin Central Advertisement, June 1, 1895, Menasha Press.
Image 1: Horse-drawn streetcar, 1886.
Horse-drawn streetcars began operation in July 1886. At first they went from downtown Neenah to downtown Menasha, turning around at the square as pictured here. In late 1893, the tracks were extended the rest of the way up Main Street .
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Image 2: Interurban streetcar "Menasha."
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Image 2.5: Valley Transit bus in Menasha, 2007.
Electric streetcars began operation in 1898. While the horse drawn cars connected Neenah and Menasha, the electric cars were “interurban,” linking to Appleton . As the network of lines grew, you could travel from Fond du Lac or Berlin to Oshkosh , change for Neenah , change for Appleton , and so on to Kaukauna, Wrightstown and Green Bay . The book Badger Traction has maps and photos of these and other connecting lines.
Valley Transit still offers bus connections to Oshkosh and Kaukauna. Buses allow route changes to be made easily.
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Image 3: Operations resume after winter break, April 2, 1887, Menasha Press.
Perhaps the snow covered the tracks too deeply for horse-drawn service through the winter months.
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Image 4: Big travel on the Interurban, July 11, 1898, Menasha Breeze.
The first weekend of interurban service. The car named “Menasha” is pictured as item one of this section.
Image ID#: Streetcar_success_1898_07
Image 5: To discontinue street car service, Oct. 5, 1925, Menasha Record.
Buses were alternating with interurban cars on some routes already, when the need to replace a bridge and therefore the tracks, moved the transit company to abandon the streetcars.
Image ID#: Streetcarsend1925_10_05
The first airports were privately owned. This one was named for George Whiting, a Menasha factory owner who was a major investor. It was located on leased land on the Wittman farm on Menasha Road , and had two 1600 foot runways. The airport opened for use in March 1928. The first airmail delivery to this area landed there on December 15, 1928. Sometimes in winter planes could not land on the gravel runways, so use for airmail was discontinued. Without that contract, the operation lost money and closed in 1930.
Image 1: Aerial view of Whiting airport, on Appleton Road .
Whiting airport, Appleton Road .
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Image 2: Barn and plane at Whiting airport.
Whiting airport with parked biplanes.
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Image 3: The hangar is now part of the Kitz and Pfeil Hardware Store, 2006.
Kitz and Pfeil hardware store, site of former Whiting airport.
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Author: Mara Munroe