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Milwaukee Street Bridge (original)


Milwaukee Street Bridge

Photo taken from Watertown Historical Society

View this photo at watertownhistory.org

BH Photo #257255


With the coming of the railroad in 1855 it became apparent that the Main Street bridge and the Cady Street bridge were neither adequate nor properly located to handle the traffic from west of the river to the depot. What was needed was a by-pass, as it were. But it took 33 years for any action to be taken. In July, 1888, the city council resolved to build another bridge, this one connecting Milwaukee Street on the east side with Spring Street on the west side (name of street before West Spring Street being renamed West Milwaukee) and the committee on streets and bridges was instructed to procure plans and specifications for an iron bridge as well as for an arched stone bridge.

Acting on the recommendations of that committee, the city council, a few months later, opted for an “iron bridge” and requested the contractors begin construction as soon as possible. When no material had arrived by mid-January, 1889, alderman Racek paid the Milwaukee company a visit and learned they had been unable to procure the necessary iron from Pittsburgh but they would have it by January 25. It finally did arrive the second week in February and the building of the long anticipated bridge began. On April 6 the bridge was finished, tested and accepted by the city, the Watertown Gazette declaring it “a fine piece of work, the best bridge in the city, and the least expensive, size and style considered.”

The new bridge proved a boon for the townspeople and farmers from west of the river. No longer was it necessary for heavily loaded wagons to travel through the business section of town, with its notoriously muddy streets, on their way to the elevators, which were now much more accessible. The disappointment of not having the use of a bridge at the foot of Western Avenue was alleviated. The Jefferson County board of supervisors showed their appreciation for the convenience seven months after the bridge was opened to traffic by appropriating $300 for the purpose of improving the approaches to the new bridge.


Lost Through truss bridge over Rock River on Milwaukee Street
Watertown, Jefferson County, Wisconsin
Replaced by a new bridge
Built 1889; Replaced 1930
Through truss
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.18991, -88.72627   (decimal degrees)
43°11'24" N, 88°43'35" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/359727/4783350 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 56722 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • December 12, 2018: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • June 23, 2013: Added by Dave King