Neenah Water Power Canal

Photographed November 18, 2014 and April 17, 2014
Erected 2010 by John Bergstrom
Neenah, Winnebago County, Wisconsin
Google Map

In 1831, the Federal Government built this water power canal between the Fox River and Little Lake Butte des Morts. Its purpose was to provide water power to run the saw and flour mills that were constructed to employ the Indians sawing lumber and milling corn. Forty men and twelve horses were used for the canal and wing dam construction.

In 1847-49, Harvey Jones who had purchased this property which was then known as Winnebago Rapids, now Neenah, enlarged this original Government canal and rebuilt its wing dam and saw mill. There was a seven foot drop from Lake Winnebago to Little Lake Butte des Morts, and the expanded canal and mill race improved its water power potential. Harvey Jones and Charles Lindsey then built a sawmill with flume on this site. Then, in 1865, Hiram Smith built the Neenah Paper Company on this site.

John R. Davis, Sr., in 1852, purchased and operated the Government's original flour mill on this site until it burned in 1874, whereupon he rebuilt it as Winnebago Paper Mills to manufacture book and writing paper, In 1904, it became Bergstrom Paper Company and, from 1979-2007, Glatfelter Paper.

The Wisconsin paper industry grew to be one of the centers of paper manufacture in the U.S. While this canal still provides water for papermaking in 2011, the last use of water or hydro power from it was in the mid-1960's.
Bergstrom | Legacy Park is located at the entrance to the Plexus Corporation plaza, at the west end of West Church Street, at its T-intersection with North Church Street, near 135 North Church Street, Neenah, Wisconsin 54956.

NOTE: The address for Plexus Corporation is 1 Plexus Way, Neenah, Wisconsin 54956

Legacy Park, located in downtown Neenah, Wisconsin, honors and illustrates a wealth of information on the origin, growth and importance of papermaking in the Fox Valley. The privately funded park was built around the existing base of the former Glatfelter / Bergstrom Paper Co. smokestack.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - February 23, 2006: Neenah mill to close
200 paper workers to lose jobs at Glatfelter

The canal (above and below).

The Church Street entrance to Bergstrom | Legacy Park.

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