Great Lakes Steamships and Canals

In 1834, the federal government opened land offices in Mineral Point and Green Bay, greatly speeding up the settlement of Wisconsin. Steamboats on the Mississippi River connected Wisconsin to the Gulf of Mexico, while immigrants and goods from the East came into the territory on Great Lakes steamships. Bordering these two great waterways, Wisconsin residents faced the problem of how to connect the two transportation systems. With the economic success of the Erie Canal, opened in 1825, the answer for many in Wisconsin seemed to be canals.

The increase in the number of settlements only added to the existing demands... more...

Original Documents and Other Primary Sources

Link to article: A woman's memoir of the founding of SheboyganA woman's memoir of the founding of Sheboygan
Link to article: Recollections of Old SuperiorRecollections of Old Superior
Link to article: The Fate of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers Improvement CompanyThe Fate of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers Improvement Company
Link to book: The first steamboat trip on the Upper Mississippi, in 1823.The first steamboat trip on the Upper Mississippi, in 1823.
Link to book: Milwaukee developers try to dig a water route to the Lead Region in the 1830s.Milwaukee developers try to dig a water route to the Lead Region in the 1830s.
Link to book: Steamboating days, 1854-1863, are recalled by a Wisconsin pilot.Steamboating days, 1854-1863, are recalled by a Wisconsin pilot.
Link to book: A Boston feminist visits the village of Milwaukee in 1843.A Boston feminist visits the village of Milwaukee in 1843.
Link to book: A Mississippi Riverboat pilot looks back on his career, 1845-1883A Mississippi Riverboat pilot looks back on his career, 1845-1883
Link to book: Descriptions of Wisconsin disasters and catastrophes, 1848-1948Descriptions of Wisconsin disasters and catastrophes, 1848-1948
Link to book: Folklore and folktales collected by Charles E. BrownFolklore and folktales collected by Charles E. Brown
Link to images: Pictures of steamboats on Wisconsin waters, 1832-1931Pictures of steamboats on Wisconsin waters, 1832-1931
Link to images: An 1832 drawing of a Great Lakes steamboatAn 1832 drawing of a Great Lakes steamboat
Link to images: An Austrian painter depicts Wisconsin in the 1850sAn Austrian painter depicts Wisconsin in the 1850s
Link to images: Increase Lapham examining a meteorite, ca. 1868Increase Lapham examining a meteorite, ca. 1868
Link to manuscript: Papers of a Manitowoc shipbuilder, 1857-1912Papers of a Manitowoc shipbuilder, 1857-1912
Link to manuscript: An Austrian painter describes sketches made while traveling Wisconsin, 1856-1860An Austrian painter describes sketches made while traveling Wisconsin, 1856-1860
Link to manuscript: A government official compares rail and steamboat routes to Wisconsin, 1853.A government official compares rail and steamboat routes to Wisconsin, 1853.
Link to map: Developers try to cut a canal around the worst rapids in the Fox River.Developers try to cut a canal around the worst rapids in the Fox River.
Link to map: The route of the proposed Milwaukee and Rock River Canal, 1838.The route of the proposed Milwaukee and Rock River Canal, 1838.
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