"In May, 1875, the county board appropriated $300 to assist the town of Bovina to build a bridge across Shioc river on Section 16. Resolutions deploring the removal of John Stephens from the state were passed; he was one of the first settlers and afterward prominent. There was much contention as to which paper should be given the county printing."
--Part 1 | History of Outagamie County, Wisconsin by Thomas Henry Ryan.
The bridge built was a wood and iron bridge that was seriously deteriorated by the early 1900's. The town board voted to build a stone bridge at the same location, and hired John H. Hayes of Appleton, a civil engineer responsible for the design of 19 of the 35 stone arch bridges built in Outagamie County in this era. James P. Garvey was hired to build the bridge at the unheard-of cost of $7,633.
Hayes abandoned local limestone and specified stone from a quarry in the Town of Cicero, about 10 miles to the north. The bridge took two years to build, due to difficulty in building a solid foundation that required extensive blasting. "1905" is scratched into the concrete in the northeast corner of the bridge.
According to measurements taken in a 1986 State DOT sponsored survey, the center arches "...rise 4 feet over spans of 32 feet 6 inches. The end arches rise about 4 feet over spans of 30 feet 6 inches. The ring stones are uniformly about 2 feet in height and 6 to 9 inches across. Cast iron drain spouts are set in the spandrel walls."¹
The bridge was part of State Highway 187. In the 1980's, the historical significance of the bridge was recognized and bypassed by new bridges that carry 187 today.
The bridge is significant for several reasons. One, it is part of the heritage of John Hayes, who designed over half of the stone arch bridges in Wisconsin in the early 20th Century. This bridge is the best-preserved example of the stone arch designs of the era. The four arches are long, enhancing the graceful lines of the structure.
Matt Carpenter, of the Fox Valley History Project told me that the first bridge was built in 1881. He confirmed that the contractor for the stone arch bridge was Mr. Garvey, from Town of Freedom.
Q: How did Embarrass, Wisconsin, and the Embarrass River, get their name?
A: The village's founding fathers weren't commemorating an event that left them red-faced. They took the name from a local river that lumberjacks often found impassable--and embarras is French for "hindrance" or "obstacle."
¹Hess, Jeffrey A. and Frame, Robert M. III, Historic Highway Bridges In Wisconsin (Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Transportation, 1986, p. 151)
Essay edited and updated August 1, 2008.
Architectural/Significance: The structure is a rubble-limestone bridge with 4 segmental arches and sloped stone railings, slightly flared at the approaches averaging about 3 feet in height and covered with a concrete coping. All of the the arches spring about 3 feet above the waterline from piers and abutments set on pilings. The two central arches rise about 4 feet over spans of 32 feet 6 inches. The end arches rise about 4 feet over 30 feet 6 inches. The ring stones are uniformly about 2 feet in height and 6 to 9 inches across. Cast-iron drain spouts are set in the spandrel walls. A date scratched Into the concrete coping of the stone railing at the northeast corner of the bridge says "1905." The bridge's length, excluding approaches, is about 156 feet; its width at the middle about 27 feet 6 inches.
The Barteau Bridge is an excellent, intact example of the Outagamie County country-bridge Tradition of the early twentieth century. It was designed by John H. Hayes , a civil engineer from Appleton, who was responsible for 19 of the 35 stone-arches known to have been built in the county during 1898-1910. Hayes main competitor was the arcilitect-engineer Herman Wildhagen, also of Appleton, who during the same period designed at least 13 stone-arch bridges in the county. Both men worked in a similar idiom, designing rubble-limestone strictures with sloped, flared, railings and fairly long, flat, segmental arches. The Barteau Bridge is the best preserved and most elaborate, surviving example of this general plan.
The bridge also demonstrates a concern for quality engineering that distinguishes the Outagamie stone arches from the contractor-designed structures of several other rural regions, most notably Price County. Constructed at town and county expense for a total cost of $7,633, the Barteau Bridge took almost 2 years to complete primarily because of the difficulty in achieving solid foundations, which required extensive blasting for pilings. Hayes also took special care in the selection of building stone condemning the local limestone in favor of quarried rock from the Town of Cicero. about 10 miles to the north.
Historical Significance: Spanning the Shioc River just north of the City of Shiocton, the Barteau Bridge was formerly part of State Highway 187. In the early 1980s, it was declared eligible for the National Register oi Historic Places and by-passed by the state highway. Closed to vehicular use, it now serves as a pedestrian crossing in a county park. Planning for the Barteau Bridge began in the fall of 1904 , when the Town of Bovina voted to replace a deteriorated wood bridge with an iron bridge at the same site. After selecting John H. Hayes of Appleton to prepare plans and specifications, the design was changed to a 4-span, stone-arch Structure. James P. Garvey of the neighboring Town of Freedom served as contractor. Because of difficulties in Selecting stone and constructing foundations the bridge was only about three-quarters complete by the fall of 1905. It was finally finished in August 1906. The Barteau Bridge is historically significant for Its association with Hayes who participated in the heyday of Wisconsin, stone-arch construction by designing over half of the stone-arch bridges in Outagamie County during the first decade of the twentieth century.
[Note: This document was prepared by Jeffrey A. Hess and Robert M. Frame III for the Wisconsin DOT. It is part of a project that was launched by the Wisconsin DOT in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration. It was published by the Wisconsin DOT in 1986, in a report entitled Historic Highway Bridges in Wisconsin, Volume 1.]