Oblique view, looking southwest
The others are the Tivoli Island Bridge in Watertown, and the McGilvray Road bridges in La Crosse, County. They are listed here as McGilvray Road Bridge No. 1, McGilvray Road Bridge No. 2, McGilvray Road Bridge No. 3, McGilvray Road Bridge No. 4 and McGilvray Road Bridge No. 6.
Photo taken by J.R. Manning in December 2008
In 1889, the land that is now Lakeside Park was a huge marsh. It was a fact that disturbed the citizens of Fond du Lac, because their only access to Lake Winnebago, on whose shores the the city was built, was through the marsh. One editorial account stated, "The result is, that only those who have horses and those who can wade the marsh, visit the lake."1 Suggestions were made to the town to build a road at public expense across the marsh. The Common Council appointed a committee to solicit subscriptions for a park and improvements to the waterfront, and with[in] four days, they had collected $2,000.00 from local citizens.2 That year, Main Street was extended to the lake. In the years that followed, the city put considerable effort into the creation fo Lakeside Park. Nearly every year, well into the twentieth century, newspaper headlines announced that improvements were being made to the park and to the waterfront.3
By the turn of the century, a natural lagoon had been filled by dredging soil out of the marsh. This infill formed five small islands, separated by narrow channels for boats. As time went on, these islands were interconnected by a series of walkways and bridges. Today, there is a total of twelve bridges in Lakeside Park
The earliest of these bridges was a wooden bridge which spanned the channel btween the pavilion on the north side of the park and a small island directly to the south, where the boat livery was located.4 This wooden bridge appeard in photographs taken in the early 1920's. One Fond du Lac resident recalls riding over the wooden bridge on his bicycle as a boy, and mooring his skiff underneath it. A photograph that he took in 1926 shows the present bridge, a small bowstring truss, in the same spot as that earlier wooden span.5
History of the Bridge
The history of the Fountain Island Bridge is sketchy at best. It can be sumised form stylistic evidence that the bridge was constructed about 1870, but since the bridge was move to its present location many years ago, and since there is no builder's plate on the bridge, it is difficult to trace its original location, manufacturer, or date of construction. City Council Proceedings for the year the bridge was contsturcted of the year is was moved may contain the answer, but going through years of records, when a specific date is not known, could prove to be extremely time-consuming. Liekwise, it is a tedious task to read through years of newspaper headlines, particularly when no index is available. The park office has no records for the bridges. An interview with a long-time resident of Fond du Lac suggeted that the bridge originally spanned the east branch of the Fond du Lac River in town.6 The east branch of the Fond du Lac River, however, runs through the center of town and is spanned by a dozen or more bridges. City Council Proceedings from the mid-1920's indicates that a number of new bridges were constructed over the Fond du Lac River at that time, but fail to mention whether or not they replace older bridges, and if any of the bridges being replaced were moved to new locations.7 A newspaper article in 1922, however, indicated that a bridge originally spanning the river at Western Avenue was moved to the park to span the inlet known as "The Big Hole" when a new bridge was contructed in it's place.8 This suggests that some of the city's other bridges may have been recycled in the same way, including the Fountain Island Bridge.
Wisconsin Historic Bridge Recording Project
for Historic American Engineering Record
1 - Daily Commonwealth, May 9, 1889 (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin)
2 - Ibid. August 2, 1889
3 - Daily Commonwealth, Daily Reporter, Commonwealth Reporter, 1889-1930 (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin)
4 - "New Park Will Be Beauty Spot," Daily Commonwealth, May 20, 1911 (Includes 1910 map of Lakeside Park) Photograph of bridge in "Lakeside Park: Past, Present, Future." (Fond du Lac: League of Women Voters, 1976, p. 3)
5 - Landon Divers, interview with Lola Bennett, project historian, July 6, 1987.
6 - Ibid.
7 - City Council Proceedings, 1922-1933 (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin)
8 - "Bridge Across Big Hole Provided" Daily Reporter, November 2, 1922