This is part of a letter that Glendale's 4th District Alderman Richard Wiese wrote to County Supervisor Theodore Lipscomb. Alderman Wiese is graciously allowing me to quote from it.
"I am a life long resident of Milwaukee’s North Shore. In my early years, I fondly remember renting a row boat and rowing around the Lincoln Park lagoon and Milwaukee River with my Grandfather and Father, plus fishing in the river along numerous points in Lincoln Park, catching many large fish.
You will also note a photo that I have included with this letter that was taken by an ancestor of mine(F. Bischoff) in 1893. He took photos throughout Milwaukee County, particularly in the emerging parks. One of the photos he took clearly shows Estabrook Park and the Milwaukee River, and is identified as Estabrook Park in his own hand note at the top of the page, which based on the date precedes the establishment of the Milwaukee County Park system, and is therefore potentially a City of Milwaukee park, with the Board of Park Commissioners established in 1889. This photo shows 5 men in a row boat and several fishermen clearly in the background. Further in the background is the railroad trestle, the supports of which still stand, and was the line going into what is now the Glendale Technology Park.
A close inspection of the photo shows the top edge of the natural dam beneath the trestle, which created the wide still water lake (now referred to as the impoundment) that the people in the photo are clearly enjoying. As this photo was taken before any governmental intervention in the river, this was clearly the natural flow of the river. Oddly enough, it seems that fish were making it into this section of the river without any assistance from special interest groups. Taking a walk along the river today, accessed by the stairs that are to the south of Picnic Area 5, you can still see the original banks of the river along the western side of the river, which are a substantial distance from the current river pathway.
The natural condition of the river in 1893 resulted in an area of natural beauty and wide quiet waters. From other photos in this collection, I believe that the boat in the photo is a rental item, which indicates that this section of the river was an active recreational area. Many of the people speaking at last night's meeting [March 24th] continued to emphasize the need to “return the river to its natural condition”. I believe that this photo shows that the levels of the river today when the dam is closed closely match those of the original river. It does not appear that the river was the narrow fast moving channel that many of the presenters alluded to...
The waters above the Estabrook Dam have provided beauty and recreational opportunities for generations of Milwaukee County residents. If the dam were to be removed, it would be a tragic loss to the citizens of Milwaukee County, the City of Milwaukee, and the citizens of Glendale."
Richard W. Wiese
4th District Alderman
City of Glendale