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Cupp shares history of Muscoda bridges
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board
Muscoda bridges
This image shows the evolution of bridges across the Wisconsin River at Muscoda, from the first toll bridge built after the Civil War, to the first 'free' bridge built by the State of Wisconsin in 1929, to today's modern-day bridge, dedicated in 1989.

MUSCODA - The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board met in Muscoda on April 14 to conduct a regular monthly business meeting.  

Mark Cupp, Executive Director od LWSRB, started the meeting with an educational presentation on the history of river-crossings at Muscoda. Cupp said that one of the most important issues in the Riverway in the post-settlement era has been river-crossings, which he said are essential to promote travel and commerce. Historically, ferries had crossed the river at Harper’s Ferry, Avoca and Muscoda.

“The Moore family originally ran a ferry across the river from Muscoda to Richland County.  Following the Civil War, General Jonathon B. Moore, a former Sheriff of Grant County and former member of the state legislature, agreed to invest $16,000 in a new toll bridge with additional investors putting in another $8,000,” Cupp told the board. “There were complaints about the tolls for using the new bridge, but it provided an important link across the Wisconsin River.”

Cupp said that in 1888, the toll bridge was sold to John Postel and John Schwingle for $10,000.  The remnants of the stone piers for the toll bridge can still be seen on the upstream side of the existing bridge. In 1920, Cupp said, a severe storm had destroyed major parts of the toll bridge, requiring significant repairs. 

The demand for the ‘free’ bridge created great controversy in the community, and years of legal battles throughout the 1920s.

Cupp said that at the time there were two newspapers in town, one of which – The Muscoda Progressive - contiues to serve the community to this day.

“The two newspapers had diametrically opposed editorial opinions regarding the need for a ‘free’ bridge, with the Progressive championing the ‘free’ bridge,” Cupp said.

Cupp said that the controversy had resulted in a court case, which had gone all the way up to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. 

Eventually, the State of Wisconsin agreed to build the ‘free’ bridge, and construction was completed in 1929. The grand opening of the new bridge was cause for great celebration in the village.

“According to Richard Durbin’s book, ‘The Wisconsin River:  An Odyssey Through Time and Space,’ over 5,000 people attended the big event with a parade, two dances, a free lunch, and other activities,” Cupp said.  “Local legend suggests the only time the draw span was ever opened was on the day of the festivities.”

Finally, in 1989, the modern highway bridge in use today was constructed with Governor Tommy Thompson dedicating the bridge the following year.

“Actually, this was just after the Riverway Law was passed, and Governor Thomspon travelled to Muscoda and dedicated both the new bridge and the offices of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway Board on the same day,” Cupp said.

Cupp thanks Dorscheid
Retiring Riverway Board Chairman Jerry Dorscheid receives a plaque in recognition of 18 years of service as Iowa County representative to the board from Executive Director Mark Cupp.

Dorscheid honored

In other action, the LWSRB recognized Chairman Jerry Dorscheid for 18 years of service as Iowa County representative on the board.  Dorscheid, of Arena, served for six, three-year terms, beginning in 2004. For the last three years, he has served as chair of the board. 

Cupp thanked Dorscheid for his leadership and noted the many miles they had paddled and hiked together over the years.  Dorscheid said it had been a pleasure serving on the board, which was a good fit for his interests in hunting, fishing, paddling, and enjoying the scenic beauty and wonders of nature found in the lower Wisconsin River valley. 

“Jerry has been a wonderful president of our board, providing a calm leadership style and sharing his vast knowledge with us,” board member Gigi LaBudde said.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to get to know you over the years,” Friends of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway president Timm Zumm said. “We could always count on you to help us with an extra canoe or an extra shovel, and you were always there for us when we asked you.”

“It has truly been a pleasure to work with you over the years,” Riverway Board executive assistant Marsha Curtis told Dorscheid.

New appointments

Cupp told the board that Richland County representative to the board, Steve Williamson, had notified him that he would not serve another term on the board. For this reason, the Governor will appoint two new members to the board to represent Richland and Iowa counties.

“Both counties are moving very quickly in confirming their recommendations, and those should be forwarded to the Governor’s office by the end of the month,” Cupp told the board. “In Iowa County, four individuals have expressed interest in serving on the board.”

Cupp said he also had a lead on a potential recreational user of the Riverway for the at-large position on the board that has been vacant for some time. He said that candidate resides in Vernon County.

Permits approved

Permits were approved for three timber harvests on state-owned lands in the Riverway.  The parcels are located in the Town of Marietta, Crawford County, at Georgetown Road near Hubl’s Motel; off Easter Rock Lane near the intersection of Highway 60 and County E; while the third harvest will occur in the bottomlands near Fish Trip Flowage east of Blue River in the Town of Muscoda, Grant County.  

Plans call for patch clear cuts to be used in conjunction with underplanting of trees, followed by timber stand improvement work at the Crawford County sites.

“We plan to plant a total of 12,000 trees at the site in order to regenerate the forest with younger trees,” WDNR’s Trevor Hamdorf explained. “We will plant walnut in the lower portions of the area, and oak in the upper portions.”

  At the Fish Trap Flowage site, east and north of Jones Lake, plans call for removal of trees 14 inches DBH or greater, with a second harvest to occur after proper regeneration has taken hold.

The board amended a permit previously granted to Galen Bremmer for a timber harvest in the Town of Orion, Richland County.  The action will move the start date of the harvest from October into September.  

Cupp also reported he had issued a permit to Eric Rapp for construction of a noise barrier at his property along Highway 133, in the Town of Clyde, Iowa County.  The structure will not be visible from the Wisconsin River during leaf-on conditions, and is intended to reduce highway noise from truck traffic on the roadway.

The next LWSRB meeting will be held in Boscobel on May 12, at City Hall, starting at 5 p.m.

MUSCODA - The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board met in Muscoda on April 14 to conduct a regular monthly business meeting