The De Pere Lock is the last lock in the historic Fox River lock system. Once consisting of twenty four locks from Portage to De Pere, this mid-19th century system connected the Great Lakes with ports on the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Today it is one of two hand-operated lock systems left in existence in the United States.
The DePere Lock has operated continuously since the 1850’s. A major upgrade including steel gates was completed in the 1930’s. An unoccupied two story Dutch Colonial Revival National Historic Register lock keeper house is located at the site.
This lock site is located at former location of Rapides des Peres, or Rapids of the Fathers. It was here that French missionary, Father Claude Allouez, built the St. Francis Xavier Mission in 1671. Father Allouez’s mission marks a 150-year period when the Parkway was part of New France. During this time, the Fox-Wisconsin waterway was a strategic resource in France’s attempts to gain control of the fur trade in New World, which fueled the economy of the Upper Midwest throughout much of the 17th and 18th centuries.
After the United States declared independence and Wisconsin was admitted into the Union in 1848, work began on creating an easier passage over the rapids. The De Pere Lock was built as part of the Fox-Wisconsin Improvement project, which resulted in twenty four locks and the Portage canal being built in the early to mid-19th century.
Today the lock is located at Voyageur Park in downtown De Pere. Visitors can enjoy picnicking, boating, and fishing. The Fox River State Recreational Trail, which runs 25 miles from downtown Green Bay to the Villiage of Hilbert in Calument County, is located along the western boundary of the park. The site is also located near the State Friendship Trail, which runs 13.9 miles from Green Bay to Greenleaf. An open pavilion, playground, portage locations, and parking are located near the lock site and park. The nearest boat launch is at the Fox Point Boat Launch, just north of Voyageur Park. Contact FRNSA, for maps and more information.
National Register of Historic Places:
Part of the De Pere Lock and Dam Historic District: NR #93001331