History: Local History Index:
Transportation: Lisbon Plank Road
The Lisbon Plank Road Came from Early Indian Trails and Oxen Wagon
by Editor Michael R. Reilly, copyright May 2013
In May 1829, the first Europeans traveled by land across the
state of Wisconsin, from Green Bay to Prairie du Chien. Records of the
trip reveal that much of the course followed established Indian trails.
Indian trails were once abundant in Wisconsin, linking Indian villages
with major waterways, as well as hunting and fishing grounds and
settlements. As such, the trails, together with the region's waterways,
served as the earliest corridors of travel, communication, trade, and
Indian trails often followed earlier trails created by deer and
other animals. They typically followed easy grades, wound around hills
and other obstructions, and crossed rivers and streams at shallow
crossings. When possible, these trails followed streams and rivers,
which provided escape routes and drinking water. In open areas, the
trails offered views of the surrounding areas so that animals could see
if enemies were near. Indians followed these animal routes for the same
reasons, and European settlers would soon do the same. Early fur
traders, missionaries, and explorers made extensive use of the
established network of Indian trails. Settlers arriving in the region
during the first decades of the nineteenth century widened many of the
trails into roads suitable for ox carts and wagons.
In 1836 the early land claimants, in what was to become the Town
of Lisbon in then Old Milwaukee County, followed one of these Indian
trails out to their new land claims. This earliest transportation route
was known as the Oconomeewoc Trail, and in 10 years the first of many
plank roads to be built in Wisconsin.
What will become the Lisbon Plank road in about 10 years is
called the "Oconomeewoc Trail" in April 1837.
later references to the road by Merton historians, often call it the
Editor: April 1, 1837 David Bonham is
advertising in a Milwaukee newspaper that his Public House (tavern) was
open at "Head of Fox River" [later Town of Lisbon]. The Head of the Fox
River encompassed an area on the eastern edge of the Lisbon township and
that which was Willow Springs, later Lannon, then Village of Menomonee
The subscriber would inform the
travelling public that he has opened a house of entertainment on
range 19 town 8 section 36 the north-west quarter. It is on the
Oconomowoc trail, at the head of Fox River, on the direct route to the
Upper Rapids on the Rock River, where he will be happy to accommodate
those may be disposed to give him a call.
April 4, 1837
Source: Milwaukee Advertiser,
Milwaukee Advertiser, April 15, 1837
"Oconomeewoc Village" instead of "Public House" heading
in the May 13, 1837 edition.
The Plank Road Period
Such roads as existed in the territorial days were exceedingly
bad. Loads of any size could not be hauled except by using two, three,
and even four teams of oxen; horses were but little used in those
pioneer days. The settlers a few miles inland found it a discouraging
task to get their crops to market.
Since mud or snow often slowed passage on even the best early
roads, plank roads came into vogue for a very brief period. Successful
reports of plank road use in European countries created the opinion that
they would be an improvement over the crude military and state road
conditions. Plank roads were seen as a practical means for agricultural
products to reach markets, since farmers could use their own vehicles
and such roads were cheaper to construct than railroads.
Many of our Nation's roadways were once dirt and mud paths until
the early to mid–1800s. A modern movement at that time called for the
building of wooden roads, a great improvement in transportation. Plank
roads were typically constructed of wood planks two inches thick and
eight feet long, which were nailed to four-inch-square stringers at a
90-degree angle. Tolls were charged for traveling on the roads, usually
one-cent per mile for single animal vehicles and an additional half-cent
per animal hauling a vehicle. A typical drive from Milwaukee to Green
Bay with a team would cost $3.78.
Maintenance involved digging ditches on each side of the plank
road to drain the water and keep mud from accumulating under and over
the planks. By doing this, wagons loaded with merchandise and
agricultural products—and the animals pulling them—were not slowed or
stopped by mud, but could enjoy a hazard free ride once they reached a
plank road. Bridges were also made from planks. Even now, we
occasionally find a wooden bridge on our travels, similar to an old
Plank roads resembled a large set of train tracks in appearance,
but felt and sounded much as boardwalks do today except most were wider
than an average boardwalk. Early turnpike companies built these roads
and there was often a toll charge of one to two cents per horse. The
cost of building a plank road was from several hundred dollars to
several thousand per mile, depending upon the climate and condition of
To help finance road construction, private turnpike and plank
road companies were chartered and organized in the state. The earliest
plank road to be chartered and surfaced in Wisconsin was built between
Lisbon and Milwaukee in 1846. Between 1846 and 1871, 135 turnpike and
plank road companies were organized and chartered by the legislature.
One of the most successful of these was the Milwaukee - Watertown Plank
Road, built in 1847.
Like many inventions, the plank road was a progressive idea and
enhanced local travel tremendously. However, after a few years of wear,
the planks began to warp and rot away. The cost of repair, more lumber,
gravel, toll buildings, employees, and management all came into play. As
the planks deteriorated, gravel was used to compensate, making for a
slower and bumpier ride.
sources: Plank Roads (an excerpt), By Rickie Longfellow
the State of Wisconsin Historical Society, Inc., Plank Roads,
The first mention of a plank road for Wisconsin occurred in
1844 when a road was proposed from Milwaukee to Prairieville
(Waukesha) or Mequanigo (Mukwonago). This proposal did not receive too
much attention, and it was not until 1846 that the first of 133 plank
road charters was granted. It was given to the Lisbon and Milwaukee
Plank Road Company by the territorial legislature which authorized it to
capitalize at $50,000. The road was to be constructed of timber and
plank, "so that the same form a hard, smooth and even surface," from
Milwaukee to Watertown or any part of the way.
source: Watertown Daily Times, 30 and 31 Dec 1986
Be it enacted by the Council and House of
Representatives of the Territory of Wisconsin.
Section 1. That Smith Jones, William H. Thomas and T. S. Huntington,
be, and they hereby arc appointed Commissioners to lay out and establish
a Territorial Road from Watertown, in the county of Jefferson, on the
best, most practicable and eligible route to the quarter post on the
range line dividing the towns of Warren and Lisbon in the county of
Milwaukee, between section twenty-four in Warren, and nineteen in Lisbon
aforesaid, thence on the best, most practicable and eligible route to
the town of Milwaukee, and said commissioners may adopt as part of said
territorial road any part of any road already established on the route
selected by them which they see fit.
source: Madison Express
March 20, 1845, page 2 of 5
Editor Note: Before the plank road was lengthened to Watertown, a
territorial road from Watertown to Merton/Lisbon was created. The plank
road that followed probably followed or covered this first road.
Mr. THOMAS, introduced a bill to incorporate the Milwaukee and
Lisbon plank road company.
source: Madison Express
January 29, 1846, page 2 of 4
The earliest plank road to be chartered and
surfaced in Wisconsin was built within the city of Milwaukee in 1846. Between 1846 and 1871,
135 turnpike and plank road companies were organized and chartered by
the legislature. One of the most successful of these was the Milwaukee -
Watertown Plank Road, built in 1847.
Note: Why a route to the town of Lisbon??? The town had no
established territorial road or stage line running to it. Nor mail
delivery service. Whey then did the town such favored status?
The town had several key political and influential leaders, David
Bonham, an earliest settler, operated the first town business, a public
house (tavern/inn) right on what became the plank road. Lucius Botsford,
also early settler, was on the Milwaukee and Lisbon Plank Turnpike
(Road) Co. board. These men knew the other Milwaukee backers quite well
ACTUALLY...though a number of prominent Lisbon men were involved in
the building of the first plank road, the road itself wasn't extended to
the township until 1850. The Lisbon and Milwaukee Plank Road company
simply derives its name from those Lisbon men' place of residence!
AN ACT to incorporate the
Lisbon and Milwaukee Plank Road
Be It Exacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the
Territory of Wisconsin:
Section 1. All persons who shall become stockholders pursuant to the
provisions of this act are hereby constituted a body corporate by and
under the name of the Lisbon and Milwaukee Plank Road Company.
Powers of Corporation
Sec. 2. The corporation hereby created shall possess power to
contract, bargain, buy, sell, pass by-laws and transact all business
pertaining to said corporation; also to sue and be sued, in and by the
name of said company, through the directors of said company.
Limit of Stock
Sec. 3. The capital stock of said company shall not exceed fifty
thousand dollars, to be divided in shares of ten dollars each, and shall
be assignable and transferable in such manner as shall be prescribed in
and by the by-laws of said corporation.
Duty of Commissioners
Sec. 4. Whenever nine thousand dollars of the capital Stock of said
company shall be subscribed for and distributed, it shall be the duty of
the commissioners named in this act; to call a meeting of the
stockholders at some convenient place on or near the line of said road
for the purpose of choosing the requisite number of directors of said
company, and the persons then chosen shall be the first directors of
said company, and shall hold their offices for one year and until others
are chosen in their stead.
Sec. 5. Whenever nine thousand dallars of the capital stock of said
company shalll be subscribed for and distributed, each stockholder shall
pay in to said company two dollars on each share of stock subscribed for
by him, or by his agent, and the remainder in two dollar installments,
as each arid every mile of said plank road shall be finished.
6. The track of said road to be constructed of timber and plank, so
that the same form a hard, smooth and even surface, the particular
manner of building said road to be determined by the directors of said
Where to commence
Sec. 7. Said road shall commence at the place or as near as
practicable where the north Madison territorial road now crosses the
range line dividing range nineteen and twenty, and to follow the line of
said road, or as near as may be for the best advantage of said company
in the construction of said plank road, until within one mile of the
Milwaukee river, in right direction to the west ward of Milwaukee
village, which shall be the end of said plank road to bo constructed by
said company. Said Company may extend said plank road from said range
line nineteen and twenty, to the village of Watertown, in Jefferson
county, or any part of the way to said village.
Route how determined
Sec. 8. The route of said road shall be determined by five persons,
who shall be appointed by the board of directors of said company when
duly organized, and said persons shall have power in their discretion,
by and with the consent of the owners of lands through which this road
is proposed to be laid, to make such alterations or deviations from the
present line of said roads, which shall interfere in the construction of
said plank road, as shall be for the best interest of said company and
Sec. 9. The following persons shall be commissioners to open books
and receive subscriptions for the capital stock of said company or
corporation, or donations therefore, viz: Daniel Wells, jr., Walter H.
Besley, Clark Brooks, Abraham Nottingham, James Weaver and John Hustis.
Rates of toll
Sec. 10. Whenever ten consecutive miles of said plank road shall be
completed, it shall be lawful for the board of directors of said
company, to cause a toll gate to be erected, or when five rniles shall
be completed, a half toll gale, discretionary with the board of
directors, at which gate said company may demand and receive for full
toll gates, toll not exceeding the following rates, viz; For every
vehicle, sled, sleigh or carriage of any description drawn by one
animal, ten cents; if drawn by more than one animal, for every such
additional animal, five cents; when designed or used chiefly at the time
for the conveyance of persons ten cents for either of said vehicles
drawn by one horse; twenty cents when drawn by two horses, and
twenty-five cents when drawn by more than two horses. For every horse
and rider, or led horse, six cents; for every horse, mule, or neat
cattle and half score of sheep and swine, three cents. Half toll not
exceeding half tbe above toll.
Sec. 11. No toll shall be exacted of any person or persons while
actually going to or returning from any religious meeting on Sunday, or
from any person liable to do military duty, while actually going to or
returning from any parade or review of which their attendance shall be
by law required. All other exemptions to be regulated by the by-laws of
Sec. 12. The toll gatherer at each arid every gate, when erected on
said road in pursuance of this act, may detain and prevent from passing
such gate, any carriage or animal subject to toll, until the toll
thereon is paid.
source: Laws of Wisconsin Territory, approved
February 2, 1846
Today in state history
February 2,1846: The Legislative Assembly chartered a private
corporation which proposed to build a plank road between Milwaukee and
Lisbon (later extended to Watertown). The plank road was completed in
source: Madison Wisconsin
State Journal, February 2, 1998, page 9 of 36
Of Acts, Memorials, and Resolutions, passed during. the. late session
of the Legislature of Wisconsin.
"To incorporate the Lisbon and Milwaukie Plank Road Company."
source: Janesville Gazette, February 14, 1846, page 5
Milwaukee Daily Courier,
April 20, 1846, page 2 mentions commissioners but not organization
action taken yet.
LISBON AND MILWAUKEE PLANK ROAD—The Commissioners of the Lisbon and
Milwaukee Plank Road Company, will meet at the City Hotel, in the city
of Milwaukee, on Tuesday, the 2nd day of June next, at noon, to receive
subscriptions for stock in said road. By agreement, the Commissioners
were to meet-on the 20th of this month: but it is expedient to extend
the time for meeting until the second of June, to give sufficient time
for the publication of said meeting. All persons interested in the
construction of. said road are requested to said meeting.
source: Milwaukee Daily
Courier, May 20, 1846, page 2 of 4
According to Mr. J. E. Hyland, farmer, town of Menomonee, Section
36; the Indian trail from Milwaukee followed in places about 10 rods to
the north of the present Lisbon road, elsewhere the road now follows its
Above - A drawing of workman building the first
plank road in the United States*, the Lisbon-Milwaukee stretch
built in 1846. The plank road sketch done by Lawrence E. Blair, in the
employ of the Wisconsin Highway commission.
First Plank Road
Construction of the first plank road in the
United States*, the Lisbon-Milwaukee stretch built in 1846,
will be depicted, and the first train on the North Western road in the
1850's will illustrate the death knell of plank roads by pronounced
success of the railroads.
source: "Century of Transport Is Commission's
Exhibit", Wisconsin State Highway Commission's exhibit at the
Wisconsin centennial celebration at state fair park, Aug. 7 to 22.,
Madison Wisconsin State Journal, July 18, 1948,
page 10 of 40
*Though not the first in the United States, the Lisbon
Plank road was the first built in what was then the
Territory of Wisconsin, two years later the state of. read
On July 18, 1846, the United States'
plank road opened in North Syracuse, New York, primarily
for salt transportation. The road cost $23,000, was 16-1/2
miles long and planked its entire length. Thomas Alvord,
State Legislator, who later became Lieutenant Governor
helped secure the passage of an Act to construct, maintain
and collect tolls. There were four tollgates about four
miles apart that were operated by the company which was a
profitable enterprise for many years. The fees were 1 cent
per head of cattle, 5 cents for a single horse, and 25 cents
for a horse and wagon.
There was a dirt side and planked side to the road;
the East Side was dirt and the West Side planked 3" thick by
8' long. Loaded wagons had the right of way on the planked
side, the other side being reserved for empty wagons, single
horses and for passing. Bicycles used the plank side on
Sunday for racing. Due to wear and tear by horses' shoes and
iron hoops on wagon wheels, a gang was constantly busy just
The above map(s) composite of 1859
Plat Maps for the Townships of Merton, Lisbon, and Menomonee (with
partials of Delafield and Brookfield) show the routes of the early
Lisbon and Milwaukee Plank Road with the extension to Merton (current
day Cty Rd M or Moraine Drive) in yellow, and the extension to Hartland
in green. Note: the Merton/Lisbon maps don't line up correctly; the
actual road ran to Merton Main Street at an angle, which at a later date
was straightened out.
In 1846, the Milwaukee and Watertown [Editor Note: should be
Lisbon} Plank Road was constructed to Lisbon, and the Lisbon and
Hartland Plank (Road) Turnpike Co. created a section branch to
Hartland. A privately owned toll road running east-west through the
Village along what is now E. Capitol Drive. The Hartland and Lisbon
Plank Road, which quickly became known as Main Street, was a
catalyst in Hartland's early development, improving the Village's
ability to provide commercial services to the farm community, and
increasing traffic through the Town, bringing additional settlers.
A commercial nucleus sprung up where Main Street and the original
plat intersected, at North and Cottonwood Avenues, and remains the
downtown today. Early residential growth also took place along Main
Street, including the first additions, platted in 1851 (Stephen Warren
Addition) and in 1854 (Dewey K. Warren Addition) .
In 1845 [editor note: this year is incorrect], the Milwaukee
Railroad reached Hartland, replacing the Plank Road as the main route,
and acting as a further spur to residential and commercial growth along
Main and Oconomowoc Streets and in the downtown.
source: United States Department of the Interior, National Park
Service, National Register of Historic Places, Inventory Nomination Form
“In 1847, Elisha Eldred, Hans Crocker,
Joshua Hathaway, Eliphalet Crammer, and
their associates entered upon the
construction of the Milwaukee
Plank Road, and pushed it
with great zeal
and success. Mr. Elisha Eldred was the
President, and he gave personal
attention to the work.
1t was about four
years in construction. It was an admirably
built road in all
particulars. Its cost in cash was
$119,000 or there-abouts. It was a most
splendid success. Its effect on the
prosperity of the town was magical. As an
evidence of the amount
of business, its net receipts for tolls
were at times equal to $1,300 per week.
This road continued to do a very large business until
the completion of
the Watertown railroad in 1853"
Bulletin - Issue 58 - Page 76,
The subscription book of the Lisbon and Milwaukee Plank Road
Company is left at the store of Dennis & Brown, (old store of Besly &
Co.). Persons wishing to become stockholders are requested to call and
The amount of subscriptions obtained in Watertown will be applied in
constructing the road, commencing at this village.
W. H. BESLY, Commissioner, Watertown, Jan. 22, 1848
source: Rock River Pilot,
January 26, 1848, page 3 of 4
Jan. 18, 1848 Abraham Nottingham writes a letter to the newspaper
editor discussing the needs of a plank road from Milwaukee to Watertown,
a distance of approx 50. He relates a letter extract from the Syracuse
and Central Square Plank Road, N. Y. engineer G. Geddes, Esq., on the
cost, length, manner of construction, of this first built plank road.
source: Rock River Pilot January 26, 1848, page 2 of 4
The above letter is reprinted in the Watertown Chronicle
January 26, 1848, page 3 of 5, followed up with article excerpts from
"Plank road to Milwaukee", same page, which states, "This project
now comes before the public under auspices which warrant us in saying
that the road will be built. This is a settles question."
Since this article was published in the Milwaukee papers, $12,000
have been subscribed, making $17,000 in all ---$7,000 of which Mr.
Nottingham obtained in a few hours in this village (Watertown), last
week. But a little of the stock has yet been taken in Milwaukee, though
we are assured by Mr. N. that subscribers to $30,000 of it might there
be obtained in half a day...
The road will be commenced about the 1st of March (1848), and 1ill be
put in traveling order some time during the coming fall. The plank will
be laid through the timbered lands at the eastern and western ends of
the road first, and the balance graded and graveled for travel, but not
probably receive the plank until the year following (1847).
The road will be about 48 miles in length. the more important points
which it will touch between this place and Milwaukee are Oconomowoc and
Hershey's Mills on Bark river, in the town of Warren.
GOOD NEWS—NOT A SHARE LEFT.—
The capital stock, says the Rock River Pilot, "of the Milwaukee,
Lisbon and Watertown Plank Road, ($50,000) has been all
taken. W. H. BESLEY, of this village, one of the Commissioners, has
received a communication from Mr. NOTTINGHAM, stating the fact. We
understand the work will commence soon, and from the prompt and liberal
support thus far extended to the enterprise, there can be no doubt of
its speedy completion."
The Chronicle says —"The capital of this company ($50,000) not being
as large as is desired, an application will be made to the next
Legislature for its increase to $75,000. No difficulty will be
experienced in disposing of this additional amount of stock, as the
inhabitants at each end and along the line of the proposed road, seem
fully to realize the importance of the enterprise, and are determined to
complete it with the least practicable delay. The extension of the road
to Madison is seriously talked of. We have no doubt that it will
ultimately extent lo the Mississippi. A magnificent
project, certainly; but Wisconsin, it must be
recollected, is a magnificent country."
We understand from Mr. NOTTINGHAM, that $30,000 of the above stock
was taken in this city, and then the feeling already evinced here is so
favorable, that the intention is to apply at the coming session of the
Legislature, to increase the capital stock to $200,000, in order to
extend the road to Madison at once.
As an illustration of the active energy shown—one firm took $6,000 of
the stock ! ! The public mind is now fully awake to the importance of
good roads into the country, and we trust that this will not be the only
PLANK Road undertaken, to bind MILWAUKEE with the rich and almost
inexhaustible country of the interior.—Milwaukee Wisconsin.
source: Janesville Gazette, February 10, 1848,
page 2 of 12
Tri Weekly Argus
February 15, 1848, Madison, Wisconsin
Also No. 16-, R.) A bill to provide the construction of the Lisbon
and Milwaukee plank road from Watertown to Madison.
The petition of H. B. Marsh, and others, for a turnpike from Lisbon
to Beaver Dam.
Tri Weekly Argus, February 17, 1848, page
2 of 4
Laid on the table.
By Mr. MOOERS:
Petition of E. O. Johnson, and others, praying for an act of
incorporation for the Lisbon, Horicon and Beaver Dam Turnpike Company.
Petition of 100 inhabitants of Beaver Dam, in Dodge county, for the
extension of the Lisbon plank road via Hustisford to Beaver Dam.
source: Tri Weekly Argus,
February 19, 1848, page 4 of 4
On March 1, 1848:
An Act (excerpts as follows)
To provide for the continuation of the Lisbon and Milwaukee Plank
Road from Watertown to Madison
Be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the
Territory of Wisconsin:
Section 1. That the Lisbon and Milwaukee Plank Road company, created
by the act of the legislative assembly, entitled "an act to incorporate
the Lisbon and Milwaukee Plank road company," be, and is hereby
authorized to locate and construct a plank road, from Watertown to
Madison, in continuation of the road which said company is authorized to
make from Milwaukee and Lisbon to Watertown, and for that purpose to
take and use the road now located from Watertown to Madison if it shall
be found on a survey to be suitable, and to make such deviations as may
Sec. 5. ; and the name of the said company is hereby changed to the
"Madison, Watertown and Milwaukee Plank Road Company," by which
name the said company shall hereafter be known in law...
Sec. 9. This act may be amended by any future legislature of the
territory or state of Wisconsin.
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Horatio N. Wells
President of the Council
Approved, March 1, 1848
Source: Acts Passed at the 1848
Session of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory ...By
Plank Road Notice - A meeting of the stockholders of the
Lisbon and Milwaukee plank road company (Milwaukee, Watertown,
Madison) will be held at the house of F. B. Otis in Hartland on
Wednesday the 15th inst., at 10 o'clock A. M., for the purpose of
choosing directors and transacting such other business as may be
Feb. 25th, 1848
W. H. Besley,
Watertown papers and Madison
Argus please copy
Source: Daily Sentinel and
Gazette, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, March 4, 1848,page 2
Plank Road Notice
A meeting of the stockholders of the Lisbon and Milwaukee Plank Road
Company, will be held at the house of F. B. Otis, in Hartland, on
Wednesday, the 15thm at 10 o'clock A. M., for the purpose of choosing
directors and transacting such other business as may be necessary.
W. H. Besly
source: Watertown Chronicle March 8, 1848, page 3 of 4.
Plank Road Commissioners
At a meeting of the directors of the Madison, Watertown and Milwaukee
Plank Road Company, held at Milwaukee on the 25th, the following named
gentlemen were appointed commissioners to locate said road: John s.
Rockwell, Condy R. Alton, Ar'm Nottingham, Walter H. Besly and James
source: Watertown Chronicle March 29, 1848, page 2 of 4
Will be received at the office of L. R. Cady, in this village, until
the 8th day of May next, for furnishing on the line to Madison,
Watertown and Milwaukee Plank Road, between Watertown and Oconomowoc,
600,000 (?) feet of white oak Plank, eight feet long, three inches
thick, and from 6 to ten inches wide. Also 200,000 feet of 4 x 1 white
oak Scantling, twelve feet long.
100,000 feet of said plank and 50,000 feet of said scantling to be
delivered on or before the 1st day of July, the same quantity on or
before the 15th day of August, and the balance on or before the 1st day
of October next.
By order of the Directors
Watertown, April 10, 1848
source: Watertown Chronicle
May 3, 1848, page 3 of 4
Madison, Watertown and Milwaukee
Notice is hereby given, that the first installment of fifty cents on
a share, is required to be paid to the officers of the company in
Milwaukee, or to Linn R. Cady at Watertown, on or before the first day
of May next. The subscribers will be called upon in the course of this
month by A. Nottingham, Esq., to whom payments may be made.
By order of the Directors
Milwaukee, April 6, 1848
Plank Road to Watertown
We are happy to say this all-important enterprise is at length fairly
underway. Contracts were let on Monday for the first eight sections
(four miles) west from our city (Milwaukee), to responsible men at very
favorable rates. We are indebted to Mr. Eldred for the following list of
No. Sec. 3. Clark & Co. Grade $352.32, Planking
$383, 41, Aggregate $735.76
No. Sec. 7. same
No. Sec. 8. same
No. Sec. 5. Sterling
No. Sec. 4. Nottingham
No. Sec. 6. same
No. Sec. 9. Hart & Co.
No. Sec. 10. same
Editor note: Notice that some of the contractors are Plank road
Company Directors!!!. The Costs for the other sections are close to that
of Sec. 3.
This makes the average cost of the road about $1,745 per mile -- a
much more favorable result than the Directors anticiipated. There is no
reason to doubt that the work will now be pushed forward vigorously to
The following are the specifications of the manner of constructing
Editor's note: Please refer to the following newspaper article for
source: Sheboygan Mercury November 4, 1848, page 3 of
There was a regular craze for plank roads in 1849, '50 and '51,
among the business men of Milwaukee, as the only means of getting into
the country, for which the following charters were obtained:
The Milwaukee and Lisbon Plank Road was rechartered in 1850,
capital $200,000. Eight miles were built in 1851. The following are the
officers: Leander Comstock, president, E. B. Greenleaf, secretary,
Robert Whitehead, treasurer. Directors were L. Comstock, J. A. Phelps,
Richard Hoppin, Jr., Albert Fowler, Clark Brookins, Levi Russell,
and Lucius Botsford. This was wholly a West Side enterprise.
The office was at 352 Third Street, over Comstock's store.
source: Pioneer History of Milwaukee: 1847, By James Smith
Buck, page 326, chapter "Milwaukee Under the Charter", The Plank Road
note: In 1852 the store on Third street was closed and Leander
Comstock embarked in the business of manufacturing and selling hardwood
lumber. From 1850 he had been a prominent figure in the building of the
Milwaukee 8: Lisbon plank road. and in 1852 the plank road company
offered for sale the sawmill built for the purpose of preparing the
timber used in the construction of the road. Mr. Comstock purchased it
under a contract to furnish the lumber needed for the completion of the
road, about the same time leased of William Sanderson for a term of two
years the sawmill in the city,
In 1849 John Mitchell came to the town of Lisbon purchasing 130
acres in Section 21, where he erected a log home in which he lived 4
years. During the next year and a-half he worked in a sawmill, then came
to Merton Township and purchased 55 acres of farm land.
As a rail-splitter he was not excelled, and has split as many as
four hundred and sixty-two in one day for the Hon, William Small. He
hauled his grain from Merton to Milwaukee with ox teams, and that was
before the plank road was built. He aided in hauling and sawing the
lumber of which the plank roads through Lisbon and Pewaukee were built.
source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Waukesha County,
Wisconsin: Containing ...1894.
Plank Road Meeting
At a meeting of the inhabitants of the Town of Lisbon and vicinity,
convened at the house of Samuel Butler in Lisbon, on Thursday the 1st
day of Feb. 1849, for the purpose of adopting measures to construct a
Plank Road from Lisbon to Milwaukee, Lucius Botsford Esq. was called to
the chair, and Levi Russell appointed Secretary.
The following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
Resolved, As the sense of this meeting, that the public good requires
the construction of a Plank Road from the north part of the city of
Milwaukee, on the most direct, and feasible route from thence to connect
with the Milwaukee, Watertown, and Madison plank-road near the village
of Hartland, passing through the town of Lisbon.
Resolved, That to effect that object, Levi Russell, James Weaver,
Lucius Botsford, Samuel Butler, and Farlton C. Luce be a committee to
confer with the citizens of Milwaukee and others interested on the
subject, and report to a future meeting to be called by them for that
purpose, which meeting shall be at as early a day as is consistent to
accomplish the object in view. The committee may also, confer with any
existing chartered company, who may desire to connect their road with
the one contemplated.
Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be signed by the
Chairman and Secretary, and published in the Milwaukee papers.
Resolved, That this meeting adjourn to meet at the call of the
Lucius Botsford, Ch'n
L. Russell, Sec'y
Source: Milwaukee Sentinel and Gazette, Feb. 3, 1849,
page 2 of 4.
Wednesday, Feb. 21st, 1849
Mr. Sholes presented 3 petitions of E. S. Comstock and 136 others. F.
Bell and 54 others. Levi Russell and 85 others, for a reduction of
Which were referred to the committee on expiration and enactment of
Wisconsin Express February 27, 1849, page 2 of 4.
Madison, Watertown and Milwaukee Plank Road Company
Notice --- Subscribers to stock in this company, at Watertown or any
where west of Oconomowoc, are authorized to make payments on the same to
Luther A. Cole, Esq., special treasurer,
Joshua Hathaway, Secretary
Milwaukee, Nov. 21, 1848
source: Watertown Chronicle February 21, 1849,
page 4 of 4
Madison, Watertown and Milwaukee Plank Road
Notice -- The Directors have by Resolution of this date determined to
allow interest, 12 per cent per annum on payments of stock, from date of
payment hitherto and from date of surrender of Treasurer's receipt at
the Secretary's office hereafter. It has thus become an object for
delinquents to pay up, and for those that have spare funds to make
advances. All should surrender the Treasurer's vouchers and take the
Secretary's without delay.
Joshua Hatheway, Secretary
Milwaukee, March 21, 1849
source: Watertown Chronicle April 18, 1849,
page 3 of 4.
Milwaukee and Lisbon Plank Road company:
Notice is hereby given, that the Book for subscription to the stock
of the above mentioned Road, will be opened at the Chestnut Street
House, in Milwaukee, on the 20th day of Dec. 1849, and will be kept open
until the amount be obtained, requisite for an organization under an
act, entitled an "Act relative to the incorporation of Companies to
construct Plank and Turnpike Boards."
Milwaukee, De. 10th, 1849
J. A. Phelps
source: Waukesha Democrat January 1, 1850, page 3 of 4
There was a regular craze for plank roads in 1849, '50 and '51,
among the business men of Milwaukee, as the only means of getting
into the country, for which the following charters were obtained:
The Milwaukee and Lisbon Plank Road was rechartered in 1850, capital
$200,000. Eight miles were built in 1851. The following are the
officers: Leander Comstock, president, E. B. Greenleaf, secretary,
Robert Whitehead, treasurer. Directors were L. Comstock, J. A.
Phelps, Richard Hoppin, Jr., Albert Fowler, Clark Brookins, Levi
Russell, and Lucius Botsford. This was wholly a West Side
enterprise. The office was at
352 Third Street, over Comstock's store.
source: Pioneer History of
Milwaukee: 1847, By James Smith Buck, page 326, chapter
"Milwaukee Under the Charter", The Plank Road Craze.
In 1849 John Mitchell came to the town of Lisbon purchasing 130
acres in Section 21, where he erected a log home in which he lived 4
years.During the next year and a-half he worked in a sawmill, then
came to Merton Township and purchased 55 acres of farm land.
As a railsplitter he was not excelled, and has split as many as four
hundred and sixty-two in one day for the Hon, William Small. He
hauled his grain from Merton to Milwaukee with ox teams, and that
was before the plank road was built. He aided in hauling and sawing
the lumber of which the plank roads through Lisbon and Pewaukee were
source: Portrait and
Biographical Record of Waukesha County, Wisconsin: Containing
"and the Merton Plank Road will he extended to this point" [the
village of Dodge Centre, Dodge County] [Later to be renamed Juneau.]
source: Democratic State Register,
August 20, 1850, page 2 of 4
Sale of Delinquent Stock
In pursuance of the set of incorporation and bye-laws, Notice is
hereby given, that the following described shares of Capital Stock of
the Madison, Watertown, and Milwaukee Plank Road Company, will be
offered at Public Vendue to the highest bidder, at the Office of said
Company, corner of Mason and Main streets, in the city of Milwaukee, on
Monday, the 16th of September next, at 10 o'clock, A. M., unless the
installments shall have been previously paid, with the expenses of this
Milwaukee, August 17, 1850
Editor's note: Here are some "Names of Subscribers", their "No. of
Share", "Amount Paid", and "Amount Due" that I recognize as being from
the Town of Lisbon area: Samuel Butler, 3, 0, 16.20; Wm O. Butler, 5, 0,
27.00; Wm Greaves, 1, 0, 5.40; Geo. Elliott, 1, 0, 5.40; A. A. Redford,
20, 0 108.00; Henry Redford, 2, 0, 10.80; Lucius Botsford, 5, 0, 27.00;
Presly N. Reay, 3, 0, 16.20; Elisha Pearl, 10, 0, 54.00; Abraham
Nottingham, 50, 0, 270.00; C. Blount, 1, 0, 5.40; Walter H. Besly
(actually of Watertown) 50, 0, 270.00; I didn't see the name of James
source: Democratic State Register August 26, 1850, page
3 of 4
Milwaukee and Lisbon Plank Road
A correspondent of the Wisconsin of Monday says, in respect to this
"Having seen several puffs of the various plank roads, I have seen
none among them of the Milwaukee and Lisbon Plank Road. I do assure you,
Mr. Editor, that i consider that road not the least of the plank roads
of the day, and why you, Mr. Editor, have not an eye to that road is a
mystery to me. However the road is progressing with great energy -- it
is now quite certain that the road will be completed to the steam saw
mill of Messers. Gunyon & McKenna by the first of November next.
There are now several miles of the grading ready for the plank, and
the contractors are at work on the balance of the route. These
enterprising gentlemen, Messrs. Gunyon & McKenna, have a contract for
planking four miles of the road east from their mill, and are sawing the
plank at the rate of ten thousand every day, and are delivering them
along the line of the road as fast as they saw them. They have got two
gangs of hands laying down plank, and have got about one mile of the
plank laid. When the road is completed to Lisbon, it will open one of
the best portions of the State to Milwaukee, and i think it will be one
of the most profitable roads leading in to your city, and when the road
is finished, we shall expect to see the Editor of the Wisconsin taking a
ride to look at the road, and enjoy the hospitalities of McKennsville."
source: Democratic State Register September 2, 1850,
page 2 of 4
Eight miles of the Milwaukee and Lisbon Plank Road are completed.
They are pushing it forward as fast as possible.
source: Oshkosh Democrat November 22, 1850, page 2 of 4
Eight miles of the Milwaukee and Lisbon Plank Road arc completed.
source: River Times, Fort
Winnebago, December 2, 1850, page 1of 4
Soon after his marriage, in the fall of 1850, Mr. George Kreiss
came again to Milwaukee, accompanied by his bride, and once more became
employed as a teamster, helping to draw the plank with which to
construct the Milwaukee & Lisbon plank road. In the fall of 1852, while
drawing logs he was badly hurt, barely escaping with his life. Upon his
partial recovery he was appointed toll-gate tender at gate No. 1, on
the plank road mentioned, in the town of Wauwatosa. He held the
position seven years, and is well remembered by the surviving travelers
of that period through the region named. In 1853 he came to Appleton and
located a tract of wild land in Greenville township.
source: Commemorative Biographical Record of the Fox River Valley
Counties ..., Volume 2, page 618
The Lisbon Plank road between Tollgate No. 2 and "Bell's Tavern" was
an attractive stretch of highway last Sunday morning, when the weather
was Indian summer-like and the sky distant blue. Tollgate No. 2,
so-called in 1851, has become Tollgate No. 1 now. Tollgate No. 1,
when the Plank road opened for business about forty-nine years ago, was
at the southwest corner of Twenty-seventh and Lisbon avenue.
Austin Wheeler, the first keeper of that tollgate, died in Winona last
year, and the old gate house he lived in, which stood at the time of his
death, a half block north of its original site, has vanished this year.
The gatehouse  at North avenue is now No. 1. George Kries was the
first gatekeeper there. None of the original gatekeepers are left.
Even the picturesque little German gentleman who closed a seventeen-year
career of toll-taking at the North street gate, has retired this year.
Lisbon road follows the line of an old Indian trail that led to the
inland cornfields. It crosses the Menomonee river on the line between
sections 6 and 7, town of Wauwatosa, but up to that point it runs along
a ridge, affording a far-away view that is rarely obscured. The purple
blue of autumn was conspicuous at the horizons at the right and left
last Sunday. The journey to "Bell's Tavern" and back required all the
time from 9 a. m. to 4 p. m., the best hours of the day's sunshine. It
was a leisurely pace, through a section that showed the progress of
sixty years of effort. Most of the men who made the clearings have
retired from active life, and new men have come into possession of the
fertile fields and broad barns.
Sawmill and Ashery Site.
The place on the river bank where the mill stood to saw plank for
the Lisbon plank road in 1850 is still pointed out. Before that, it was
the site of the Clark Brookins ashery. Clark Brookins settled on the
quarter section in 1837, and he gave the acre or two of ground for Oak
Hill cemetery, a quarter mile west of the river. The sawmill mentioned
was not the first in the locality, as an Englishman named Petford built
a water power mill about a mile north, in the early '40's.
source: Milwaukee Sentinel, October 22, 1899, "A SUNDAY
WALK TO THE "BELL TAVERN" AND BACK", an excerpt.
Re: Lisbon Road -
October 22, 1899
michael » Thu Dec 29,
2011 12:16 am
I travel Lisbon Road all of the time and have never found much info.
on the old Lisbon indian trail.
The trail / road leads into the Village of Merton. An old resident
told me that it continued west along the Bark River for about a mile to
a place in the river called 'Big Springs" . It was a place for good
drinking water and camping for Indians and the early Pioneer's heading
west in in the 1840's. There was also a burial ground there for the
soldier's and traveler's that had died along the trail that were passing
Since before the Civil War, Butler was a toll station on the
Lisbon Plank Rd. at the Waukesha County line. In the 1800s, other
toll stations along the Lisbon Plank rd. were where Lisbon crossed
Burleigh, and at the city limits of Milwaukee at 48th St. .
Money was collected at these stations to help sustain the road.
Today, one small barn still stands near this triangle tha once
housed the Butler general store, a post office and a tavern on the
northeast corner of the intersection. Across the street, was Old
Friedens Church. At the northwest corner, the tollgate was at Gerl's
tavern. On the southwest corner was the Ed Ferrrick farm, farmed for
three generations of Feericks, but now known as Zayre Department Store.
Jake Cordie's butcher and slaughterhouse were east of the general store.
In a triangle between Lisbon and Lake St. (now called Capitol Drive) was
he home of Dr. Wentborn and three other residences.
Plank roads often became rough as frost heaved logs in the
roadbed. Often a load of hay on a short-runner sled tilted into ruts
between the uneven logs and had to be pried over the raised log.
When Butler became a railroad center in the early 1900s, the
tollgate keeper no longer collected tolls. Instead where Lisbon and Lake
Rds. merged, a flag station was built where a flagman was stationed 24
hours a day. He stopped all traffic with his red flag to allow engines
to switch cars onto lines of their destination. Years later, the toll
road was graded under the tracks.
Source: excerpts from: Capitol Dr. intersection bustled in pioneer
days, by Ruth Schmidt, The Milwaukee Sentinel, Nov. 17,
1986, Page 1, Part 3, (page 20 of 40)
Fig. 1 —Plank Roads of southeastern Wisconsin. Most of
these were built and used in the years following 1850. All of them
connected interior points with lake ports.
The total length of the seven plank roads loading out of
Milwaukee was about 150 miles. After the opening of the Milwaukee and
Mississippi Railroad as far as Madison in 1854, interest in plank roads
declined, but these roads served a useful purpose for a number of years
Bulletin - Issue 58 - Page 76,
The Milwaukee & Lisbon Plank Road or Turnpike Co. was
reorganized in 1850. There are 22 miles of road planked. and a branch to
Hartland of 4 miles.
Acts and Resolves Passed by the Legislature of Wisconsin, 1851
Sec. 7. ...And said company shall have power to construct a single or
double track plank road or turnpike road of a hard and even surface, and
of width to admit of the easy passing of wagons and carriages from the
city of Milwaukee to the village of Merton, over the route as located by
said company under their former organization. And they shall have
the power to extend said road to any eligible point in Dodge county...
Sec. 16. Leander Comstock, Joseph A. Phelps, R. Hoppin, Jr., Clark
Brookins, Albert fowler, Levi Russell and Lucius Botsford,
having been duly elected directors of the Milwaukee and Lisbon Plank
Road according to the former bylaws, rules and regulations of said
company, are hereby declared to the the board of directors of this
company and shall hold their office for the term of one year from the
time they were so elected...
Frederick W. Horn,
Speaker of the House
Samuel W. Beall,
Lt. Governor and President of the Senate
Approved March 12, 1851
source: Acts and Resolves Passed by the Legislature of Wisconsin,
1851, pages 239 - 246, books.google.com/books?id=98A4AAAAIAAJ
Another Plank Road.
In another column, will be found the proceedings of a meeting
held at Neosho, Dodge co., to organize the " Milwaukee and Lisbon
Plank Road Extension Company," the object of which is to extend the
Milwaukee and Lisbon plank road to Dodge Center. We are heartily glad to
see this move, and hope our friends along the line of the proposed
extension will omit no efforts to secure the early completion of their
source: Watertown Chronicle, July 23,
1851, page 2 of 4
Milwaukee and Lisbon Plank Road Extension Company
At a meeting of the Stockholders of the Milwaukee and Lisbon Plank
Road Extension Co., held agreeably to public notice, at the Neosho
House, in the village of Neosho, Dodge County, on 21st inst., the
following named gentlemen were elected Directors for the ensuing
Chas. Billinghurst, Dodge Center,
P. Toland, Toland Prairie
W. T. Ward, Hustiford,
L. S. Van Orden, Neosho,
W. Sales, Rubicon,
J. G. Putnam, Neosho, Jno. M. Hall, Merton.
The meeting then adjourned sine die, and the Board of Directors
having met, elected the following officers:
L. S. Van Orden, Esq., President.
J. G. Putnam, Esq., Treasurer.
P. Toland, Secretary
The Board adjourned to meet at the house of P. Toland, on Saturday,
the 13th of September next.
P. Toland, Sec'y
August 26th, 1851
Source: Weekly Wisconsin,
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September, 10, 1851, page 1.
Term: Sussex, Waukesha Co.
Definition: A community in Waukesha Co. at latitude 430802N and
Description from John W. Hunt's 1853 Wisconsin Gazetteer:
"SUSSEX, P. V, in town of Lisbon, Waukesha county, on section 26,
town 8 N., of range 19 E, 10 miles north from Waukesha, and 60 miles
east of Madison, 1 1/2 miles north of the Milwaukee and Lisbon plank
road, in a fine farming country, well adapted to raising the winter
grains. Population 100; with 15 dwellings, 1 waggon shop, 1 shoe shop, 2
blacksmiths, 1 saw mill, 1 school house, and an Episcopal church."
General Laws Passed by the Legislature of Wisconsin
Chapter 306, page 471
An Act:. to authorize the consolidation of the Lisbon and Hartland
Plank Road Company, with the Milwaukee and Lisbon Plank Road Company.
The People of the State of Wisconsin, represented in Senate and
Assembly, do enact as follows:
Section 1. The Lisbon and Hartland plank road company are hereby
authorized to convey all their interest in the Lisbon and Hartland plank
road, to the Milwaukee and Lisbon plank road company on such terms as
shall be mutually agreed upon by the directors of each of said
companions respectively. and thereupon the Lisbon and Hartland plank
road shall become a part of the Milwaukee and Lisbon plank road, and the
Milwaukee and Lisbon plank road company shall be entitled to exercise
all the rights, privileges and franchises in the management and control
of the business and affairs of said portion of their road so acquired,
which they are empowered to exercise generally under their charter,
approved March 12, 1851, in the same manner as if said portion of their
road, had been originally constructed under said charter.
Sec. 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
Approved, April 1, 1854.
OFFICE OF MIL. & LISBON PLANK ROAD Co, Milwaukee, Jan. 3,1854.
THE next Annual Meeting of Stockholders of the Milwaukee &
Lisbon Plank Road Company, for the election of seven Directors for tbe
ensuing year, will be held at the Office of the Company, on Chestnut Street, on Monday, the 6th of
By order of the Board of Directors.
jan5-a3w THOS. McKenna, Sec'y
source: Milwaukee Daily Sentinel,
January 12, 1854, page 3 of 4
Wednesday, April 12,1854, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
To authorize a consolidation of the Lisbon and Hartland Plank Road
BASSLER: Philip toll-gate keeper, Lisbon plank road.
BERTZ: John Laborer, Cold-spring road, near toll gate, S
BENNING: Anton Stone mason, Cold-spring road, near toll gate,
source: 1857-1858 Milwaukee County Directory,
Milwaukee County Wisconsin Genealogy,
DEFAULT has been made in the payment of the sum of fiftteen thousand
dollars ,principle, besides the interest since the flmi day ofJancary
nut, which pnnci- V«i ouin with.tix.montha liittrtbt tbtrtoa U claimed
nave become uuo OD tbe firat dny ot July latt padt, on a •certain
mortgage, leaving d*te tlie fifth day of May, A. D. lS62t executed or
the "JVilwankee A Lisbon PlanJuoad Company,*' H 'cnrporaticn duly
conetftuted by the law* of tbe.fiune t-f WiHOt>neJn, to I- create
A. Laphaia, ot the city of Milwaukee, upos the trusts therein
specified.which w)a mor'-gage wan recorded in the oflicc of tbe BegUler
of Deud>,of th« county of Milwaukee, In ilcfiute ot Wte-
,iXJCiilti, in volume IS of mortgage* upon paged 571,67i!, yi&
and S74, on the a6tn day 01 U»y, A. D., IS52 ; aad 'in ihe ofUce of tiie
Register of iJcuda of Waukesta county
in laid itsn.ft,.o£voiuiB(;S) of mortgages, on pagea IBS, ISO ind
lOl.on the Tth day or July, A. U. 1S52; anduixiy (irtyd niter ibe
del&uli in the payment of taid ptlccipiU anil ictKreet nooneye basing
elapied; and request haruiif bten made of, me in writing, by, tbe holder
of over the two "tliirdn in amount or naid bondi, secured by »ald
mcr>£»- .KtV w >eH ^aid mortgaged prvtalaei and property ci uud
tjansroad Company, in purfinacce with the condi.tooa and proTistonu of
said mortgage. • Sow, tberafore, notice ii Hereby given, thai In
pursuance of a power of sale contained in eaid mortgage, tfcr piumiien
and property dwcriced in and coreiea by said
moiLgajjtj, ui-wiL: 'ihe MilwauKtt; *nd LUbonPiackroad, jyln'u
between the:ctty of Milwaukee aforesaid, ami the Tlltaiool MertOD, in
the county of Wauke<ha,inthc£UU o) Witjohstu, inoiudlntj Die right <*r
way, aad land occupied by iaio road, together WHO (he tuperstructure *nd
tracts thereon, au<J aU odiur lauJcrlils used tcereou— oriilgei,
culvcrti, renues, toll-gated, and the laudh connco «d tljercwitb, *od
all building on uaid liuds, and
all other personut property, right thereto, and interest of . Kaid
Company Uwrein, and all tliu propcjty, ri^hte.privi- Icgtb AJI&
fraachista of tlie afcid Company ol', :nr to, or concerning the
samu,tvh>ch they had on the said fifth day ol May, A. D., ISSJ, or
subsequently acquired therein or i hereto: will lie cold ut public
auction, ut the Court iiuusc, In tliu city of Milwaiincv, in tht) county
of Mllwnukee, In the tjratu of VViticonskj, on the twelfth day of
October, A. U., ItM, n.i two o'clock in tlit afternoon.—
The OHrncd toll-), ix-ntf and income of ia-JU road, tsjec;- Ued in
said mort^a^u, und reicrre-i to in said bond*, and any right of action
to recover the same, is reserved from sale by requedt or Uieomitr
of two-if:irds in amouni of tho bonds so cured by oaid mortgage,
I. A. LAPHAM, Trustee.
' KM MOM H* VAN WITHE, Attorney*.
• i)awd at Milwaukee, Hept let, 1857. itjitlf^SMul
source: Milwaukee Daily
Sentinel, September 4, 1857, page 1 of 4
Daily Milwaukee News, The
, Thursday, October
15,1857, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
...several in relation to the toll gate on the Lisbon
Plank in the City and about... ...Plank Road to remove their toll
gates out of the city limits
TAVERN FOR. SALE.
For sale at a bargain, the stone tavern on the Milwaukee and
Lisbon plank road known as "Spinks' Tavern." Is well located for
business and is in good repair. The subscriber being about to engage in
other business will dispose of it, together with barns, outhouses,
furniture etc., etc., at a, reasonable price. The lot belonging to the
tavern contains three acres of land.
April 15th, 1857 W. M. SP1NKS
source: Waukesha County
Democrat, June 29, 1858, page 3
LISBON PLANK ROAD.
Mr. Thomas' bill making the Lisbon plank road, from the line of
Wauwatosa to the village of Merton, a public free road;
has passed both houses.
source: Daily Milwaukee Press And News,
March 29, 1861, page 104
CHAPTER 187. [Published April 1, 1861.]
AN ACT to lay out and establish a State road. The People of the State
of in Wisconsin Territory, voted in Senate and Assembly do enact as
follows : ,
SECTION 1. The line of road of the Milwaukee and Lisbon plank road
company, including their road bed, between the village of Merton, in
Waukesha county, and the east line of the town of Brookfield, in said
county, having been abandoned by said company, is hereby declared and
established as a state road, and subject to the control and management
of the towns respectively in which said road is situated, like other
Section 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after
its passage. Approved March 28, 1861.
Wisconsin session laws, 1861
WILL BE COMMENCED.—Work will be commenced next week on
the new stone road to be constructed on the old Lisbon plank road. Two
miles are to be put under contract immediately.
source: Daily Milwaukee News, August
16, 1867, page 5 of 8
MACADAMIZED ROAD.—The Milwaukee and Menomonee Falls Macademised
Road Company commence toiling their road today September 29th.
They have built over two miles of double track with broken or crushed
stone, and are moving the road ahead at the rate of from ten to fifteen
rods per day. The building of this road is a good sample of what may be
accomplished by untiring perseverance and energy. The company originated
at a time when there was a universal prejudice against all stock
companies throughout the city and country; when men would shake their
old plank road and rail road certificates in your face, "gnash their
teeth and howl." But nothing daunted they pressed on, and by
perseverance and industry have succeeded in obtaining stock
subscriptions sufficient to make a fair commencement, and think they can
demonstrate the fact that a stock company can be honest, and build
the first macadamized road ever attempted in the state of Wisconsin,
and pay a larger dividend to the stockholders than any other stock
company in the state.
City Controller's Office,
Milwaukee, Sept. 27, 1867
Where as in the opinion of the Street Commissioners of the Ninth ward
public interest demands the grading of the roadway of the Milwaukee and
Lisbon plank road from 20th street to the city limits in the Ninth ward
of the city of Milwaukee.
And whereas, pursuant to an act approved April 11, 1867. to amend an
act entitled an act to incorporate city of Milwaukee and the several
acts amendatory thereof, approved February 2nd. A D. 1862, said street
commissioners are authorized and empowered to order said improvement
whenever they shall deem it necessary so to do, and so petition thereof
being requisite or necessary in order to make the expense of the same
legally chargeable to the lots or parts of lots in front of which said
work may be done.
It is hereby ordered that the roadway of the Milwaukee and Lisbon
plank road from 20th Street to the city limits, in the Ninth ward of the
city of Milwaukee be graded in accordance with the estimates and
specifications of the city surveyor on display in the office of the city
Owners and agents of property situated as above described are hereby
notified of making said improvements within fourteen days from this
date, or the street commissioners of the Ninth ward will cause such work
to be done and charge the same to each respectful lot or part of lot
according to law.
Street Commissioners 9th ward
Daily Milwaukee News ,
Friday, September 27,1867, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Section 1. That part of Lisbon plank road lying within Lisbon plank
road, the boundaries of the Ninth ward of the city of Milwaukee, Lisbon
avenue, shall hereafter be known and called Lisbon avenue.
Passed March 3d, 1884.
general ordinances of the city of Milwaukee: up to January 1,
1896 - Page 859,
Changing Names of Streets, books.google.com/books?id=fgVPAAAAYAAJ
source: Milwaukee Plank Road Company, and Lisbon and
Milwaukee Plank Road Company. Wisconsin State Historical Society,
Issue 1 page 100, Papers, 1848-98. 12 items and 1 volume,
Our Railroad History
Here's a Story of Plank Roads, Farm Mortgages,
and Wood-Burners That Helped Build a State
The first roads were generally an extension of and an improvement
on the old Indian trails. In a short time it was found necessary to
surface these roads, so ' they would stand up under the rough treatment
g i v e n them by stage-coaches and freight wagons. The favorite device
for such s u r f a c i n g was planking.
The first plank road in the state ran from Milwaukee to Lisbon
arid was chartered in 1846. After the Civil War plank roads were common
and many were to be found throughout the southern part of the state. In
a heavily timbered region plank roads could be laid for about $1,800 a
mile, and the companies which built them were allowed to charge tolls
for their use. Plank roads were frequently called "farmers' railroads",
and many people argued that they should be built instead of railways
because they're cheaper as well as open to all vehicles at a small cost.
source: Madison Wisconsin State Journal,
February 25, 1951, page 8 of 40 by Dora Drews
HISTORY OF PLANK ROADS IN, WISCONSIN
Early-Day Experiences in This County Duplicated in
Other Parts of the Country.
A writer, at Madison, telling of the early-day experiences with plank
roads in Wisconsin, has the following to say:
"In early days, as in recent years, road legislation was a
frequent subject of legislative, debate in Wisconsin. A worker in the
State Historical Society, at Madison, calls attention to a project for
improving them by laying a road of Planks. Governor Talmadge recommended
the consideration of plank roads, to the legislature of 1845, remarking
that they were used extensively in Russia, and had been recently
introduced into Canada. Public funds were not, however, sufficient for
the purpose, and private corporations energetically took up the idea. In
1846 the Lisbon and Milwaukee Plank Road company was chartered; at the
next legislative session, sixteen such companies secured licenses. The
high tide was reached in 1852, when thirty-two plank road corporations
came into being. Plank road mass meetings were held in many owns and
great anticipations of benefits were excited. The results were
disappointing, both to the companies and to the traveling public. The
latter, soon objected to the tolls, found the hard planks hurt the feet
of their animals, and the unevenness of worn planks retarded traveling.
The promoters, who expected oak planks to last a decade or more,
found them rotten and worthless at the end of three or four years. Tolls
were evaded and grew less; the state-license took odd percentage of the
receipts, and dividends were small, and dwindling. By 1871, the plank
roads, which twenty years before had been looked to as the solution of
Wisconsin's transportation problem, had almost ceased to exist; toll
houses had disappeared and iron tracks had superseded oaken boards as a
means of cross state travel."
Waukesha county had two of these plank roads, the one that is
mentioned above—The Lisbon and Milwaukee, being the less important of
the two, since the Milwaukee-Janesville road was the longer and probably
carried much the greater traffic, has the lead mines, and wheat, fields
of Waukesha, Walworth and Rock counties, afforded, for the early days, a
vast amount of traffic. The: planks, however, never were laid farther
west than the village of Mukwonago.
The advent of railway building, coupled with the fact, as stated
above, that the plank roads were found to be unsatisfactory early,
caused their abandonment. It is a matter of record that the promoters of
the Milwaukee and Prairie du Chien railway, the first constructed in
Wisconsin, surveyed through the town of Mukwonago, but the leading men
in that section gave the project no encouragement since they believed
that the plank road, then partly constructed, would serve a better
purpose than the much more expensive railway.
Public sentiment was swayed by the conversations carried on at the
stopping places along the roads, where the drivers, seeing .their
occupation endangered by the coming of the iron horse, sought, to
discourage the rail project in every possible way.
source: Waukesha Freeman,
June 19, 1919, page 3 of 8
COUNTY BOARD IS LEGISLATING
MOST MATTERS BEFORE IT THUS FAR, ACTED ON ROAD BOND
Various Officials Elected. Bids Received as County
The county board, after a week's session, had succeeded in
getting most of the work outlined for it well under way, the only thing
that seemed to drag being the $3,600,000 bond issue election for roads,
which was being re-debated after being once passed. Reconsideration was
had Monday by 22 to 7, owing to the protest of the residents of Merton
that their two or three miles of road on the old Lisbon Plank road were
not included for concrete. The trouble appears to be mainly that there
is a milk condensery at Merton whose patrons want the road. Assemblyman
William Edwards is the spokesman for their neighborhood.
At the Tuesday session of the Board discussion of the highway
bond question was threshed out and resulted in adding $200,000 to the
proposed amount of the bond issue, the total now being placed at
$3,800,000. The state engineers who were communicated with on the
subject of the change stated that ,the Board might add the amount to the
original estimate, but that there would be no change in their plans.
This simply means that if the bond measure is approved by the voters at
the special election in- December the Lisbon road will be
incorporated in the work to be done.
source: Waukesha Freeman, November
20, 1919, page 1 of 8
TO PURCHASE THE LISBON TOLL ROAD.
Recommendation by the Committee on Highways an Bridges
to the County Board.
To the Honorable Board of Supervisors of Waukesha County—
The undersigned Committee on Highways and Bridges, to whom was
referred the matter of the purchase of the macadamized toll road, owned
and maintained by the Milwaukee and Brookfield Macadamix and
Turn-pike Company, more commonly known as the
Lisbon plank road, ^K'^rT^tS!0-" on tbe »th day of December, u,,,
pass over and examine that portion of said '.oil road extending from the
west ,ne of section number three (3) of the town of Brookfield and on t
h e t o w u h e be twcou Brookfield and Menomonee, in a south easterly
direction te, Butler Post office, Milwaukee county, a distance of three
(3) rmleb and entirely within Waukesha county.
Your committee finds upon careful examination that said road was
built in a very substantial manner, and that the same is now in good
condition and and repair. The foundation consists of a hcd\> bed of
course Hag stone, with one course of course crushed stone, and another
co s, o lino rushed swuie, and gravel on top. The grade ,» very good ,
nd e load bod is wide and level, and altogether presents a very !™m^™j^
"^f^" we"' ^iro"'of tlie opinion that ilie' several road districts along
said highway | would have no d i l i i c u l t y in the f u t u r e in
Keeping the same ,n good^condition and repair, should this honorable
body conclude to purchase said road.
\Vo l i n d that said tcli road was established In pursuance of a
elm fci si anted bv the I gislature and set [orth at length ,11 Cbautur
UO uf t l o L . u . & o l 1S.17- that said charier was amended by
Chapter MS of the Laws of lb,l, ox- £ , Ii," tho toll road from Butler
Post Office, Milwaukee county, to the Lux Fiver "Waukesha county, or
such portion tboroof as said company saw lit , ild That tho supervisors
of the town of Brook.ield and Menomoneo • b o u t 1870 also executed a
deed in favor of said company, which saul deed i r co dod in Volume 54,
page 41S of Deeds, in the olllco of the Reg,s or Deeds, o(m nf this
connlv. convoying tho use and p r i v i l e g e ol said three ,mlnb to
aid company for tho purposo mentioned in said charter. We hud a so a
<-iid charter «lvcs this company the right of perpetual succession, and
that "4,11 throe miles of road are « t i l l being maintained in
pursuance of said Charter and that toll is still being collected
Wo l i n d that there is a great U r a l of travel uponj.h,s
road, for the ,ca- <o,. that it. is tho ouo. e x c l u s i v e l y usod
by people residing ,., the tm n, of Brookfield. Lisbon, Pewaukee, and
Merton, in passing to and from Milwaukee,.' that i u d - ' l u ? from
conversations of residents in sa.d towns, and from u,ni ios mado we are
of tho opinion that the purchase of these three milos hv this county
would bo looked upon with a groat deal 01 tuvor and sutib fai-linn and
considered a good and proper investment.
Your committee has taken this I n t o consideration and also the
fact that said road is now in a good and substantial condition, and that
it can henceforth bo easily m a i n t a i n e d without any extra cost
or expense to ho road district- and'that in our judgome.it it Is good
policy to vacate all toll roads w i t l - l n ' t h i - conntv as soon
as possible and in view of the surrounding cu- -., m-.fu.cns havo
concluded to rocommond the purchase of said three m,l,s by UIH county
Covtilicatos of tne County Clerk of Milwaukee County have been presented
to us sotting forth'tin-, resolutions of the Board of bun . r v N o r s
o r - . a i d C o u n t j . in the matter of purchase of the Lisbon
Plank K uuf tho Cedarbnrg Plank Road and the Watertown Plank Road, all
within tbe County of Milwaukee, during the past two years. V> o hud tha,
one thousand (SI.000.00) dollars per mile, was paid in each instance'.
„« mmn with tho agent of tho M i l w a u k e e , and Brookfield
Macadanmed Turnpike Company In reference to tl.o kv.vost purchase price
for satd three mile* a concession of one liundrod and fifty (SISO.CX)):
dollars was inude u p o n ' t h o original proposition on lile in this
matter, and ho agr cod to • icon t one thousand throe l.i.ndrod :ind
fifty (81,330.00) dollars for three 'irilol u i M > n ' t , h o same
conditions sot forth in said original proposition. We •ire in-lined to t
h i n k that In view of the price paid per milo in Milwaukee. Cou.itv
mat this latter proposition is reasonable and fair.
Vo'nr Committee therefore respectfully recommends the adoption of
the ^"'iv's'.'riv^d0 tli'it' the County of Waukesha purchase! from the
owners of the Milwaukee and Brookfield Macadamized Turn-pike Road
Company that u - i r t o f t h " road ••commonly known as the Lisbon
Plank Koad - l y i n g , boing and s i t u a t e in the County of
Waukesha, and all the right, t i t l e and ii-ton'st of said company and
apurt.enant to said roatl. That «aid company s h a l l surrender
complete ownership, control possession and maintenance to the County of
Wankesha, r e l i n q u i s h i n g all tolls, •tnd that tho County of
Waukesha in consideration therefore nay the sum of three-huudred f i f t
y ($350.00) dollars on deliverance of a good and snlli- ' c tdcod: that
the balance of one thousand (S1000.00) dollars bh pa.cl ,„ two ocnial
installments, on the lirst day of February 1902, and the nrst day of
February WuS. with intorest thereon at tiie rate of four (-1) per cent,
per annum, and the proper ollicers are hereby directed and authorixec 1
to-issue • , d deliver a i-roper county order for said three
hundred and f i f t y (^.O.OU. dollars, and to execute proper
instruments to secure the balance of said purchase price: provided,
howerc.t that said company shall furnish to tho r.nmtv'cf Waukesha a
complete abstract ot its title to said road, showing ' a good mie free
and\-iear of all incmubranees, to be approved by the Di.v
All of which is espectfully submitted.
Dat'd Waukesha, Wis.. January 7, I'.iOl.
THOMAS J. BRADY
C. B. BUCK.
GEO ROE SMALL. , ,, . .
Committee on Highways and Bridges.
source: Waukesha Freeman, January 10,
1901, page 4 of 8
The first of the 135 turnpike and plank roads to be chartered and
established in Wisconsin was the Lisbon-Milwaukee Plank' Road
in 1846. In 1847 the Milwaukee- Watertown Plank Road was constructed at
a cost of $119,000.
Technical Record - Volumes 1-3 - Page 44
Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission
- 1963 , books.google.com/books?id=S44jAQAAMAAJ