Today Kaukauna is home to 15,858 people with it’s own full-time Police, Fire and Rescue services and a municipally owned electric and water utility. Kaukauna is well-maintained with regular garbage collection, street cleaning, well-lit and well-paved streets and other services vital to keeping our community safe and attractive. Kaukauna boasts a 350-acre Industrial Park Network, complete with rail and heavy truck access.
Our proximity to the Fox River affords our residents with numerous recreational opportunities such as the Historic Grignon Mansion, the 1000 Islands Environmental Center, many parks and sport fields, a public swimming pool, and a public library.
City-sponsored events held in the Central Business District include a weekly outdoor music series – Live! from Hydro Park, Fox Firecracker 5k Run/Walk and the Downtown Farmer’s Market June through October. With such a variety of activities available, it should not come as a surprise that Kaukauna is also known as “The Friendly City.”
History of Kaukauna
(Information Obtained from City of Kaukauna Budget Book)
Kaukauna is one of Wisconsin’s oldest communities. The first white explorer to see Kaukauna was Jean Nicolet, who pushed his birch bark canoe up the Fox River from Green Bay in search of a water passage to the Orient. Nicolet made allies with the Winnebago Indians that he found in the region. Trappers, hunters, missionaries, and merchants soon followed with additional expeditions to the new territory.
Because travelers had to carry their boats and cargoes over the three waterfalls at what is now Kaukauna, that spot was destined by nature to become a way-station and settlement on this important waterway. When Father Claude Allouez paused there on April 18, 1670, he noted in his journal, “we passed the portage called by the natives KeKaling, our sailors dragged the canoe among the rapids: while I walked on the Riverbank, where I found apple trees and vine-stocks in great numbers.”
Thousands of bales of furs were carried over the KeKalin Falls during the ensuing fur trading period and log dwellings were erected at the site to house the portagers and travelers. By 1760, Charles de Langlade had a fur trading post at the falls.
Dominique Ducharme was the first permanent white settler and built a substantial log house in 1790 in KeKalin (Kaukauna) and began trading with the Menomini and Chippewa Indians. At the time, 1,500 Indians lived in the village of Kaukauna.
The north side of the City was the first to be settled, with Dominique Ducharme’s land deed of 1793. The Ducharme deed was Wisconsin’s first recorded deed in which he obtained several hundred acres of land for the initial payment of two barrels of rum. In 1818, Augustin Grignon moved from Green Bay to take up residence in Kaukauna on a government grant of 1,000 acres of land on the lower rapids. On this property, but closer to the river, Augustine’s son Charles built the “Mansion in the Woods” in 1837. The Charles A. Grignon Home is the oldest home in Outagamie County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A settlement known as Statesburg began on the south side of what is now Kaukauna. The Stockbridge tribe had fought on the side of the Americans in the Revolutionary War, and were rewarded with western land to be held with the native American groups already in the area.
In 1831, a new series of American treaties resulted in the relocation to the Stockbridge settlements. The departure of the Stockbridge from Statesburg substantially reduced the population. The Grignons were left in the wilderness in the company of a small group of French farmers.