Fox Locks seeing an increase in boat traffic this summer

Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 6:00 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) -The Fox River Navigational System Authorities, otherwise known as the Fox Locks, is having a record breaking year. It appears the coronavirus pandemic is sending everyone to the water.

The Fox Locks have been a part of Northeast Wisconsin since the 1800′s. The only fully restored, hand operated lock system in the country, the Fox River Navigational System Authority has spent years getting to this point.

"The locks are on the National Register of Historic places, so we are keeping everything as close to original as we possibly can," says FRNSA CEO Jeremy Cords.

This summer nine locks are open making more than 25 miles of the Fox River navigable by boat. And it's a system that is being used more in 2020 than anyone ever expected.

According to Cords, "Right now we've doubled our numbers compared to last year. At this time we were at roughly 2600, 2700 passengers last year, now we're over 5000. And also, we've doubled the number of boats that went through this year, compared to last year."

This increase in traffic comes as the locks opened two weeks later this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. But, it appears the pandemic is what's bringing more and more boaters through.

Scott Schermitzler is a boater from Ashwaubenon. He says, "There's only so much you can do these days with the COVID and everything else going on so this is a great opportunity to get out with some of your loved ones and when you're on the water it's pretty easy to social distance."

With the locks scheduled to stay open to boat traffic for about two more months, FRNSA officials believe people will continue to come not only by water, but on land too, to see a piece of Wisconsin's history while staying safe.

“These are original pieces of art, really, strung along the necklace of the lower Fox River,” adds Cords.

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