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Monday, March 27, 2006


The 441 Bridge

This photo was taken from the Ninth Street Marina in Menasha on March 24, 2006.

I originally labeled this as "The Polish Connection," stating that it was the common name for the 441 bridge near Appleton that spans Little Lake Butte des Morts. But commenters have insisted that the Polish Connection is actually the interchange where 441 meets Highway 41 on the far side of the bridge in the photograph, where a rather awkward layout makes it difficult to go where you want to.

In either case, I've been told that the name reflects the heavy Polish heritage in the area. The Fox Cities have many people with ancestors from Germany, Holland, Poland, and Scandinavia. More recently, Laos has been added to the list, with several thousand Hmong people who came here seeking refuge from genocidal attacks for their assistance to the United States during the Vietnam War. There are other proud minorities in the area, of course, including a tiny handful of us with roots in the strange land of Scotland.
The "Polish Connection" is not the 441 bridge, and is not due to any Polish heritage.

The Connection is where 441 meets 41. It's called this because "Polish" often means "stupid"... due t othe messed-up system of having to veer through traffic to go to 41 South, and how when you take 41 North, you can only get on to 441 but not on to Highway 10... it was a horrible setup.
Gavin is right, where 441 meets 41 is the Polish Connection, not the bridge over the lake. And if you continue driving on 10, you might still think you're on the polish connection because the road weaves and turns almost all the way to Stevens Point.
I dunno. I was always told that the bridge iteself was the polish connection because when it was built it went from Menasha to nowhere, this being a dumb (i.e. Polish) idea/design
Brad is actually correct. Although I am only a teenager, I have researched on this topic, and I have found that it is so, that the bridge was named 'Polish Connection' because it connected Menasha to the other side of the river. Before highway 10 was built, it led nowhere. But I am unsure of the Polish meaning 'stupid' part is right. It did contain 'Polish' though because Menasha was a Polish settled town.

-Mike Sobie
I'd be willing to retract my comments if someone is able to point to an early source on this one.

I think this was understood, but just so we're clear: I was in no way implying that Polish people are actually stupid, simply that it's the stereotype. The stereotype is, of course, false.
I was young when the bridge was built, but I do remember my parents and their friends refereing to the bridge as "The Polish Connection" refering that the brigde connected Hwy 41 to Menasha which had a large polish heritage. Prior to the bridge, one had to travel from Appleton, through town using the Oneida streat brige or take Hwy 41 to Neenah and then back track.....
I always heard the name Polish Connnection when I grew up in Menasha. I hated the expressway built as it went right through many of the meadows I would play in as a child. I grew up on Dunning Street a fine neighborhood in the Town of Menasha.
I've lived here for 40 years and thus way before 441 was even thought of!
The bridge being The Roland Kampo Memorial Bridge used to span Little Lake Butte Des Morts, which stands for "Mound of the dead" in French, going from Calder field intersection to a T intersection on the West side that became American Drive or something later on but it was pretty much ending at a field as the remainder of the expressway was mired in the proposal stage for more than a decade. Because of this it became know as the Polish Connection because in sense the bridge went from no place to no place in the beginning and thus the name Polish Connection was derived for The Roland Kampo Memorial Bridge and still sticks today even though there are two parallel bridges there now. As for the intersections in the beginning there were ways to go north or south to 41 from any direction! If you were going east you crossed oncoming traffic on the overpass and used the West's north 41 ramp and so forth but because of safety issues those were gotten rid of until the current construction that will continue until 2018! :-)
The polish connection had it name WAY before 441 was even a concept
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