Oshkosh - Top Stories of the Decades
1830s - present
1835 George Johnson establishes a ferry from what is now Riverside Cemetery to what is now Rainbow Park.
First settlers from the eastern U.S., Webster Stanley and Gallup families, 1836
Meeting to choose official name for community so a post office can be established. The name Oshkosh wins.
First post office. Joseph Jackson is postmaster.
First frame house built by Joseph Jackson at site of what is now New Moon coffeehouse.
1844 First steamboat, the Manchester.
1846 population 752; the "business district" is described as one tavern, two stores and the ferry. W.W. Wright and Joseph Jackson survey the area to the west of modern Main Street into house lots.
1847 Ferry is replaced by a float bridge. The opening of the bridge is part of the Independence Day celebration.
1849 school census reports a total population of 1032; school children, 187.
Weekly newspaper, Oshkosh Democrat, begins February 1849.
First plank road built, linking Oshkosh to Fond du Lac, 1850.
St. Peter's Church erected, 1850.
Established Riverside Cemetery, 1855.
First stagecoach started between Oshkosh, Fond du Lac and Wisconsin Rapids, 1850.
First "planked" street was Ferry (now North Main) street, 1850.
Oshkosh incorporated as a city, April 1853; first mayor Edward Eastman.
Oil street lamps used, 1853.
First bell made in Wisconsin was cast by Oshkosh resident Fred Gaenzler, 1853.
First daily newspaper, Oshkosh Courier, began, 1854.
City bought Main Street (toll) bridge and made travel across it free, 1854.
Morgan Products/Doors started in 1855.
Paine Lumber founded, 1855.
By 1856, the city has 15 industries based on lumber: saw, shingle and planning mills, sash and door factories. These industries will dominate the next 50 years.
First fair was held, Oct. 10 - 11, 1856.
First fire engine company organized, 1856.
First brick building built, 1856.
Oshkosh resident Coles Bashford elected governor of Wisconsin, 1856.
Trinity Church erected, corner of Algoma and Light (Division), 1857.
First railroad, Chicago and Northwestern, reaches the city, October 1859.
First large fire, May 10, 1859.
Schmit Trunk Co. established some time in early 1860s.
First railroad bridge built for Chicago and Northwestern, 1861.
Oshkosh men serve in the Civil War, 1861-1865.
Start of Oshkosh baseball team, the Everetts, 1865.
Commercial breweries are established: Rahr Brewery in 1864; Horn & Schwalm Brewery in 1866; Glatz Brewery in 1869.
Civic improvements continue: Main Street is paved with Nicholson pavement in 1866; 30 miles of other streets are graveled.
Buckstaff Co. founded, 1869.
Second large fire, May 1866.
Oshkosh was second largest city in state, 1866.
Oshkosh High School built, 1867
Oshkosh Gas Co., now part of Wisconsin Public Service, started by J.D. Davis, 1868.
State Normal School (college) began construction, 1869.
City switched to gas lights, December 1869.
Peak lumber mill years.
Oshkosh Yacht Club established, 1870.
Oshkosh Normal School opened, fall 1871.
Northern State Hospital for the Insane opens, 1873. Later called Winnebago State Hospital and now called Winnebago Mental Health Institute.
Radford Co. established, 1874.
Oshkosh baseball team, The Amateurs, was organized, 1874.
Major fires, July 14, 1874 and April 28, 1875.
Gen. W.T. Sherman stopped in Oshkosh, 1876.
Arion Band formed, 1878 . For the next 25 years, they were the leading entertainers of the region.
The Great Road Race was held, 1878. The steam road wagon "Oshkosh" won.
First telephones in use, 1879.
Gen. Ulysses S. Grant visited Oshkosh, June 14, 1880.
J. L. Clark Carriage Co. founded, 1881 (defunct in 1930s).
Street cars, electric lights introduced, 1882.
Door-to-door mail delivery began, 1882.
A new Main Street bridge was built, 1882.
Grand Opera House opened, 1883.
Alexian Brothers Hospital built on 7 acres of land purchased from J.J. Moore and located on Jackson Street, 1884.
Devastating tornado hit Oshkosh, July 1885.
Oshkosh Savings and Loan opened as Oshkosh Mutual Loan and Building Society, 1886.
Susan B. Anthony, women's rights activist, spoke in Oshkosh, 1886.
Beginning of C.R. Meyer & Sons, 1888.
Oshkosh was dropped from Northwestern League (professional baseball), 1888.
Bridge built over Fox River at Oshkosh/Algoma Avenue, 1890.
St. Mary's Hospital (on Merritt) opened, 1891.
H.C. Doman built first horseless carriage in Oshkosh, 1892.
St. John's Catholic Church built, 1893.
Oshkosh Brewing Co. opened, 1894.
Oshkosh B'Gosh founded as Grove Manufacturing, 1895.
Globe Printing began business, 1895.
Congregation B'nai Israel organized, 1895.
Horse-drawn streetcars replaced by electric streetcars, 1897.
Oshkosh resident Raddatz successfully tested homemade submarine in Fox River, 1897.
National Grass Twine Co. founded (later named Deltox, invented the grass rug), 1897.
Woodworkers' Strike, 1898.
Beginning of Rockwell International as E.B. Hayes Machinery, 1898.
Universal Motor Co. established, 1898.
Citizens Traction Company opened Electric Park (also known as White City and EWECO Park), south of town, 1898.
Construction of draw bridge on Oregon street, 1898.
Public Library opened in new building (was in City Hall) donated by Harris and Sawyer families, 1900.
First concrete sidewalks were laid, 1900.
High School destroyed in fire, 1901.
Transit to Omro started, 1901.
Oshkosh Trunk Company opened, 1902.
F.W. Mueller (and Potter) Drug Store opened at 10th and Oregon, 1907.
Wisconsin National Life founded, 1908.
People's Brewing Co. began business, 1911 (to 1972).
A new Oshkosh/Algoma Avenue bridge opened, 1912.
Oshkosh Normal School burnt down, 1916.
Oshkosh and WW I - famous Victory Arch erected on Main Street.
St. Mary's Hospital purchased Lakeside Hospital, 1917.
Oshkosh Truck started, 1917.
Flu epidemic, 1917-1918. For more information go to: Oshkosh in 1918 (UW-Oshkosh project)
Marquart Millwork founded, 1919.
New Oregon Street bridge built, 1919.
There were numerous "frog dealers" in the 1920s.
Ralph Buckstaff built observatory, 1922
West Algoma flood, 1922.
Devastating sleet/ice storm, 1922.
Museum moved into old Edgar Sawyer home, 1924.
Thousands attended Ku Klux Klan rally on the Stilson farm (corners of Jackson and Murdock), April 1926.
North Park renamed Menominee Park, Chief Oshkosh Statue and dedication, 1926. First commercial airport opened, 1927.
Bus franchise granted, 1928.
Raulf Hotel opened, 1928.
Northwestern newspaper moved into new building on State Street, 1930.
Electric streetcars shut down, 1930.
Oshkosh aviator Clyde Lee disappeared over Atlantic while attempting record-breaking flight, 1932.
Miles Kimball Co. began, 1935.
Dunphy Boat Company moved to Oshkosh, 1935.
Professional basketball team Oshkosh All-Stars formed, 1937.
A 7-Up bottling plant opened by John and Lydia Plein, 1937.
Depression hits lumber industry, 1930 - 1939.
South Park junior high and elementary school opened, 1940.
New Ohio/Wisconsin Street bridge dedicated, Aug. 25, 1940.
World War II and Oshkosh, 1941 - 1945.
Paine Art Center/Arboretum opened, 1947.
Earliest Dutch elm disease cases, late 1940s - early 1950s.
Tuberculosis epidemic, early 1950s.
Natural gas became available, 1950.
City Centennial celebration held, 1953.
Butte des Morts Hwy 41 bridge opened, 1955.
Change in form of city government, from mayor-alderman to council-manager, 1956.
Grand opening of new Oregon/Jackson street bridge, Jan. 25, 1957.
Oshkosh renamed/numbered many streets, 1957.
Airport terminal opened, 1958.
Lourdes Academy dedicated, 1959.
New Oshkosh High opened (now West High), 1961.
Schools consolidated into Oshkosh Area School District, 1961.
Miss Wisconsin Pageant moved to Oshkosh, 1963.
Pioneer Inn opened, 1965.
Largest land annexation ever (Westhaven), 1966.
Introduction of jet service to Oshkosh, 1967.
William Steiger elected to Congress, 1967.
Airport renamed Wittman Field, 1967.
"Black Thursday" demonstration at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Nov. 21, 1968.
First EAA convention in Oshkosh, 1970.
Downtown peace demonstrations by University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students, 1970.
Park Plaza opened, 1971.
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh celebrated 100th anniversary.
Oshkosh North High opened, 1972.
First Annual Sawdust Days celebration, 1972.
New Main Street bridge, 1973.
Devastating tornado hits west side, April 1974.
Senior Citizens' Center opened, 1975.
President Ford campaigned for reelection at Wittman Airport, April 3, 1976.
Congressman William Steiger died in office, December 4, 1978.
Jail, Safety Building opened, 1980.
Three Imperial Eggs stolen from Paine Art Center, Oct. 23, 1980.
Oshkosh had professional basketball team, Wisconsin Flyers, 1982 - 1987.
Movie, "Dreams Come True" filmed in Oshkosh, 1982.
President Ronald Reagan spoke at the Winnebago County Courthouse, May 1985.
Grand Opera House reopened, 1986.
Opening of downtown convention center/hotel, 1986.
Opening of Oshkosh Correctional Institute, 1986.
Two student "riots", 1989.
Manufacturers Marketplace outlet mall opened. Oshkosh Public Museum fire, summer 1994.
Oshkosh Public Library renovated/expanded building reopens, October 1994.
Wisconsin Central railroad tracks consolidated, removed from downtown, 1996.
Oshkosh Northwestern family newspaper sold to corporation, 1998.
Sundial built at the corner of Main and Algoma, 2000.
Hydrite Chemical Company spill caused evacuation on south side, December 2000.
Mercy Medical Center on Oakwood opened, 2000.
Wind storm, June 2001.
Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp filmed in Downtown Oshkosh, 2008.
This timeline was compiled from Local History materials, including the following circulating sources:
Dawes, William, 1878-1942.
History of Oshkosh. 1938.
Goc, Michael J.
Land Rich Enough : an illustrated history of Oshkosh and Winnebago County. 1988.
A History of the City of Oshkosh. Vol. 1 - 4. 1993 -1995.
Oshkosh Centennial, Inc.
Oshkosh: One Hundred Years A City, 1853 - 1953