Fond du Lac

Fond du Lac is a city in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin. It is the seat of Fond du Lac County. The name Fond du Lac roughly translates into Farthest Edge of (the lake) , or Foot of the Lake, referring to its location at the southern tip of Lake Winnebago.


Although Fond du Lac was officially founded in 1836, the area at the southern end of Lake Winnebago had been a busy place for centuries before. Native American tribes, including the Potawatomi, the Mascoutin, and the Winnebago shared the area as hunters, gatherers, and farmers. The first Europeans in the area were the French missionaries in the 1600s, followed by the French fur traders.

In the 1830s, James Doty, a federal judge for western Michigan Territory, bought the land at the foot of Lake Winnebago and developed it as a city in Wisconsin Territory. As such, it lay astride the Military Road (now roughly old US 151), which connected forts in Green Bay, Portage, and Prairie du Chien.

As Wisconsin approached statehood in the 1840s, there were plans to make Fond du Lac the capital of the new state. However, Judge Doty convinced the legislature to seat the capital in the Four Lakes area (present-day Madison) instead. During the Civil War, Fond du Lac was the site of Camp Hamilton/Camp Wood, a training camp for Union recruits.

Get in

By car

US 151 at US 45 on the outskirts of Fond du Lac.

This is the most popular way to enter the city. U.S. 41 (now Interstate 41) runs through the western part of the city, from either Milwaukee to the south or Green Bay to the north. Travelers to Fond du Lac on Interstate 41 may use Exits 95, 97, 98, or 99. Hwy 151 approaches Fond du Lac from Madison, to the southwest, and runs along the southern and eastern edge of the city. Hwy 23 runs through the center of the city. To the east is Sheboygan, to the west is Ripon.

By plane

Fond du Lac has one airport, the Fond du Lac County Airport (FDL). Charter flights are available; however no major commercial airline serves the airport.

About 15 minutes North of the city, in Oshkosh, is Wittman Regional Airport (OSH). The airport does not have commercial service, but charter flights may be available.

Outagamie County Regional Airport (ATW), located about 40 minutes away in Appleton, is the nearest airport with regularly scheduled commercial service. Flights are available to many U.S. destinations.

Other airports with commercial service include Austin Straubel International (GRB) in Green Bay, General Mitchell International (MKE) in Milwaukee, and Dane County Regional (MSN) in Madison. All are about 1 hour away.

By train

Currently there is no passenger train service to Fond du Lac. Amtrak passengers may connect with Fond du Lac via a Thruway bus service from Milwaukee. However, a planned Amtrak route to Green Bay from Milwaukee will stop in the city. The route will be part of the Midwest High Speed Rail Initiative.

By bus

There is a Greyhound bus stop at the Mobil Gas Station on South Main Street in Fond du Lac.

Get around

By car

The easiest way to get around Fond du Lac is by car. The city is generally easy to navigate, and traffic rarely gets heavy. However, the city is bisected by the Canadian National railroad tracks. Be prepared to wait for passing freight trains. To avoid being stopped at crossings, use one of the only two grade separations in the city, at WI-23 (W. Johnson St.) and County Hwy. VV (South Pioneer Road) on the south edge of the city.

Main Street is the principal north-south artery in Fond du Lac. East-west streets are designated "east" or "west" (i.e. East Johnson Street) according to which side of Main Street you are on. The baseline east-west street is Division Street, which divides intersecting streets into "north" and "south" segments. Main and Division Streets intersect downtown. South of East Division Street there are a series of east-west numbered streets on the east side of South Main Street.

By bus

Fond du Lac area transit, a small public bus service running Monday-Friday, until 6pm. Bus fare is $1.25, with half-fares for disabled and senior riders with appropriate ID. Phone number is: +1 920 322-3650 .

By taxi

A couple of taxi services serve the city. Taxis must be called for ahead of time.

By bicycle

Fond du Lac is at the bed of what used to be Glacial Lake Oshkosh. As such, it is almost entirely flat; making bicycling a very good option. While the city streets have no designated lanes for bikes, most traffic is used to cyclists. Note that bikes are not allowed to be ridden on sidewalks in the city's downtown.

On foot

Visitors looking to travel mostly on foot should expect to do a lot of walking. The city is relatively large.

The Fond du Lac Riverwalk is a paved walking and bicycle trail that follows the course of the East Branch of the Fond du Lac River through the downtown area. It begins on Morris Street near Brush Street and goes north along the river, past the City-County Building and along Macy Street. Its north end is at Brooke Street along the river.

The Brooke Street Trail is a walking and bicycle trail that follows an old railroad bed along Brooke Street from south to north. It begins at Dixie Street, just west of Brooke, and extends to Scott Street, near Lake Winnebago.

Neither of these trails have dedicated parking areas at the trailheads, but there is ample street parking.

For long-distance hiking/bike trails in the Fond du Lac area, see the To Do section below.


Octagon House
St. Paul's Cathedral, on West Division Street


Edwin H. Galloway House, on the grounds of the Galloway House and Village
Buttermilk Creek Park, Amphitheater

Hiking/Bike Trails: Just west of Fond du Lac are two state bike/hiking trails. The Wild Goose Trail begins on County Highway VV just west of the Hickory Street roundabout, crosses I-41 on a pedestrian overpass, and goes southwest 34 miles, skirting the northern edge of the Horicon Marsh, and going through Oakfield and Juneau, WI. The Mascoutin Valley State Trail begins on Rolling Meadows Drive, just north of Scott Street, and continues across Eldorado Marsh about 8 miles west to Rosendale.


Fond du Lac's South Main Street Historic District


Although it is a small city, Fond du Lac has many fine restaurants.



Hotel Retlaw

Go next

Routes through Fond du Lac

Green Bay Oshkosh  N  S  Slinger Milwaukee
Wittenberg Oshkosh  N  S  West Bend Milwaukee
Madison Columbus  SW  NE  Chilton Manitowoc
Wisconsin Dells Ripon  W  E  Plymouth Sheboygan

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, February 22, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.