The Manitowoc/ Two Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce is a voluntary, not-for-profit, membership organization, the purpose of which is to promote the interests of business in Manitowoc County.
The Manitowoc Chamber, organized in 1916, and the Two Rivers Chamber, organized sometime later, were merged to form the current organization in 1970. The Chamber is affiliated with a number of similar organizations including the United States Chamber of Commerce and was initially accredited by that group in 1967.
The Chamber is a working partnership of business and professional people. It is an organization of people who know the wisdom of coordinating their efforts under effective leadership for advancement and development of the area.
In Manitowoc, Two Rivers, and the surrounding communities such as Mishicot, as in every other progressive community, there is a distinct need for a Chamber of Commerce. There are problems and opportunities which are common to all businesses, and, as a matter of fact, to all the citizens of the Manitowoc county area about which little can be done, unless there is concerted effort on the part of business and industry. Solving these common problems and capitalizing on the opportunities which arise creates a need for a central business oriented organization to undertake these things; hence the Manitowoc/Two Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce.
As Manitowoc County presses forward into the new millennium, it has embraced a broad-minded vision to ensure future growth and prosperity for all. Thus, the Chamber of Commerce is the acknowledged leader for the continued advancement of business and commerce in our area, and exceeds the members expectations in terms of benefits and services provided by the Chamber.
The earliest inhabitants in Manitowoc County were Paleo-Indians (10,000 - 6500 BC) who lived in small extended families and hunted animals such as mammoths, mastodons and other large game animals that are now extinct. Distinctive spear points and other chipped stone tools used to hunt and butcher animals have been found on the surface of farm fields in the county. At this time, some 10,000 years ago, glaciers still covered part of Wisconsin, so the weather was colder than it is now.
During the Archaic period (6,500 - 800 BC), the climate in Wisconsin became warmer and drier, making a large variety of foods available. Archaic Indians hunted moose, caribou and deer. They also fished and gathered nuts, berries and other plant foods. Like the Paleo-Indians, they lived in small extended families in natural shelters and open, seasonally-occupied base camps. They also built houses of wooden poles, covered with hides, birchbark, or mats made of plant material.
Archaic Indians living in northern Wisconsin made copper tools and jewelry from pure mineral deposits found around Lake Superior. Two Rivers industrialist and resident, Henry P. Hamilton, had at once the largest private collection of copper tools and implements in North America. Many of his copper finds were found on sandy beaches and blowouts along Lake Michigan.
Around 800 BC, people living in Wisconsin began to experiment with new ideas. The Woodland Indians (800 BC - 1630 AD) started to make pottery, build small earthen burial mounds, and hunt with bow and arrows. Later, they began to farm, growing maize, beans and squash.
Archaeologists have found many Woodland sites in Manitowoc County: small campsites, villages, implement caches, garden beds, and animal-shaped effigy burial mounds. A large group of conical, oval, linear, bird and panther effigy mounds once existed at the forks of the Manitowoc River near the Manitowoc-Calumet county line.
Following the arrival of Jean Nicolet at Red Banks on Green Bay in 1634, contact with French explorers, fur traders and missionaries, and later the British and Americans, drastically changed Native American culture and society in Wisconsin, including Manitowoc County. Northwest Fur Company trading posts were established at Jambo Creek in the town of Gibson and at The Rapids in 1795. Following Indian land cessions by the Menominee in the 1830s, federal government surveys were begun, giving the land its characteristic square grid system for land sales. Because virgin white pine covered roughly the northern three-fifths of Wisconsin, including much of Manitowoc County, the Badger State experienced a lumber rush. In 1835, Jacob W. Conroe purchased several hundred acres of land at Manitowoc Rapids. The following spring, 30 men arrived and built a saw mill. Conroe enticed Captain J.V. Edwards to settle at The Rapids and build the first scows to transport lumber three miles down river to the bay at Manitowoc. From there it was loaded on sailing vessels and taken to Chicago, then sold and sent by train to the west.
In 1836, brothers William and Benjamin Jones purchased 2,000 acres at the mouth of the Manitowoc River, which became a strategic depot for lumber sent down from the mills above. In 1837, Judge Lawe, Robert Eberts and John Arndt of Green Bay built a mill at the junction of the Mishicot and Neshoto rivers. That same year, commercial fishing began at Two Rivers.
Manitowoc County was organized in 1836. The first county seat was at Manitowoc Rapids where a courthouse was built in 1840. In May, 1853, county residents voted to move the county seat to the growing port of Manitowoc at the mouth of the river.
Between 1840 and 1910 millions of European immigrants came to America in search of land, economic opportunities and religious freedom. The largest group of immigrants to settle in Manitowoc County came from German-speaking states and duchies in Europe. Other immigrants came from Bohemia, Norway, Ireland, French Canada, England, Scotland, Wales, Poland, Austria, Russia, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden. The Hmong, our most recent immigrant group to arrive, bring new customs and traditions to the American melting pot.
Early industries besides lumbering and fishing included tanneries, brewing, and shipbuilding. In 1847, the first wooden sailing schooner, Citizen, was built in Manitowoc. During the war years, local boat yards produced wooden tugboats, rescue craft, subchasers, minesweepers and submarines. The boat tradition continues with the production of luxury yachts today.
As wheat agriculture declined in the 1870s and 1880s, dairying and the cheese industry developed. Agriculture continues to play an important role in the areas economy.
During the late 19th century, aluminum, iron casting and other manufacturing and retail businesses were established and prospered. Many of these firms, though their original names may have changed, still exist today: Busch Agricultural Resources, 1847; Suettinger Sheet Metal, 1848; Suettinger Hardware, 1852; Oriental Milling Company, 1869; Manitowoc Pharmacies, 1872; Fisher Hamilton, 1880; Wisconsin Public Service Corp., 1883; Associated Bank, 1884; Eggers Industries, 1884; Lakeside Foods, 1887; Schroeder Brothers Company, 1891; Mirro/Foley, 1893/1909; Herald Times Reporter, 1898; and Miller Implement Company, 1899.
Manitowoc County (taken from the Chippewa Indian word Munedoo-owk, meaning The Place of the Good Spirit) continues to be a great place to live, work and raise families. Courtesy of: Robert P. Fay Manitowoc County Historical Society
The city of Manitowoc is located in eastern Wisconsins picturesque Manitowoc County where the waves of Lake Michigan gently fall upon the sandy beaches at the citys feet. This historic town of 34,334 proud Wisconsinites comfortably rests astride Interstate 43 which winds its way along Wisconsins east coast between Milwaukee 79 miles to the south, and Green Bay, just 38 miles north. Manitowoc is perfectly sited between those two famous cities and is one of Wisconsins most popular tourist stops.
Reaching the city by automobile is as scenic and pleasant as it is simple. Travelers throughout the region utilize both U.S. route 151, (which runs east and west through town, connecting it to Fond du Lac) and state route 42, which offers a pleasant north/south alternative to I-43.
Manitowoc has an excellent inter-city bus service, the Manitowoc Transit System. Greyhound Bus Lines offers service to most Wisconsin cities as well. Heavy freight hauling is handled by the main line of the Fox Valley and Western Ltd., railroad, while eight trucking terminals within the city serve twenty-three intrastate and twenty-one interstate carriers.
One of the most unique services operating out of Manitowoc is the 410 foot barge, the S.S. Badger. This carferry has been making the four hour trip across Lake Michigan to Ludington, Michigan, since 1952 and can carry up to 620 passengers and 175 automobiles. The 250-slip Manitowoc Marina is also available to welcome a haven for boaters from all over the Great Lakes.
The city has air travel available, operating the Manitowoc County Airport which is located on the citys north side. The airport, which is accessible to corporate jets, contains a 5,002 ft. and 3,343 ft. paved, lighted runway. Austin Straubel International is only 45 minutes away in Green Bay, while Milwaukees Mitchell International is but 90 minutes away. Manitowocs residents, businesses and travelers all find that the citys transportation network makes reaching destinations convenient and easy.
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