Whiting Paper Mills in 1880

Workers in 1880 stand in front of the Whiting Paper Mills in Menasha.

This State Journal editorial ran on July 12, 1869:

It is estimated by engineers that the amount of water pouring out of Lake Winnebago is 140,000 cubic feet per minute. It falls 172 feet in passing down the 30 miles from Neenah and Menasha to DePere. This 8.4 million cubic feet per hour throughout the year is equal to more than 30,000 horse power, pressing with the steady, ceaseless weight of the law of gravitation.

Much of it is running to waste but destined to do a great work in the future for Wisconsin and the West. It is one of the cheapest, most extensive and, all things considered, probably one of the best powers on the continent.

The supply of water is constant because Lake Winnebago, covering an area of 212 square miles, and draining a large extent of country, is an immense natural reservoir which holds in check the great floods and pours out its reserve during droughts.

The Fox River, from Menasha to Green Bay, never rises more than 3 feet above low water mark, which is remarkable.

There is no obstruction from ice, such as is usual on great rivers, for the lake holds the ice until it is melted. The fall is distributed along the river so as to give ample room for mills. ...

As thriving as Neenah and Menasha have been in the past, and are today, we believe they have but just begun a career of wonderful prosperity and power. To those in our overcrowded towns, who want employment; to farmers’ sons, seeking new fields, we say: “Improve the adjoining lands. But, if you must move away from your county or section, do not abandon the state without good cause. Take our assurance that, for variety of resources, richness of soil, healthfulness of climate and facilities for getting to market with all products, the Fox River region offers inducements for all your capital, and all the energy that may be stored in long, busy and useful lives.”


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