The Fate of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers Improvement Company

Judge E. W. Keyes tells of the expansion and contraction of the Government's $4,000,000 Green Bay and Mississippi Canal bubble.

Because the Fox-Wisconsin waterway had been the chief transportation route through the state for 200 years, a group of  early Green Bay developers proposed the construction of a canal between the Fox and Wisconsin rivers to connect the Mississippi Valley to the Great Lakes. The chief engineering obstacles presented by the route were the need for a canal at Portage and a way to get around the numerous rapids of the Fox River; overcoming them was estimated in 1839 to cost more than a half-million dollars. For decades Congress granted land along the route to be sold by the Fox River Improvement Company and its successors to raise money for the project, politicians ran on platforms of increasing state and federal support, and the issue decided the careers of many public figures. But the work progressed slowly, and in the end, the route proved too long and winding to be of much use. At the same time, the railroad eclipsed canal boats as a preferred means of efficient transportation. In this 1903 article, Elisha W. Keyes, who was intimately involved in both the political and financial aspects of the failed canal route, looks back at the decades-long boondoggle.

Related Topics: Immigration and Settlement
Great Lakes Steamships and Canals
Creator: Keyes, Elisha W. (Elisha Williams), 1828-1910
Pub Data: Milwaukee Sentinel, October 4, 1903
Citation: Keyes, Elisha Williams. "Judge E. W. Keyes tells of the expansion and contraction of the Government's $ 4,000,000 Green Bay and Mississippi Canal bubble." Milwaukee Sentinel, October 4, 1903. Online facsimile at:; Visited on: 12/7/2021