Driven by the Mills: Industrial Evolution on the Fox

Photographed March 14, 2015
Appleton, Outagamie County, Wisconsin
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Evolution on the Fox
By the mid-1800s, industrial areas along the Fox River were bringing economic development and prosperity to Appleton. More than 1,500 bushels of wheat were processed per day, making about 300 barrels of flour. Flour mills and gristmills were located in every community along the Fox River.

It was not until the decline of wheat production in Wisconsin and the development of technological inovations that flour mills gave way to paper and pulp mills. The splendid waterpower of the lower Fox River and the nearness of raw material made the lower valley an ideal location for the paper manufacturing industry. The first paper mill, Richmond Paper Mill, was established in 1852. By 1880, four paper mills represented Appleton's principal industry. Eventually, 29 paper millsoperated along a 37-mile stretch of the lower Fox River.
The marker is located adjacent to the Fox River at Vulcan Heritage Park, located at 535 West Water Street, Appleton, Wisconsin 54911.

Vintage postcard of the Appleton mills.

The growth and development of Appleton's paper companies led to the growth of other local industries as well. Appleton factories produced paper machine wires, wet felts (an important papermaking material), paper machines, paper warehousing, and provided wholesale distribution, trucking and specialized equipment servicing to support the mill district.

The marker is one of six placed along this walkway.

The marker is located at Vulcan Heritage Park.

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