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Early history of Ozaukee County, Wisconsin
(1965)

Covered bridge,   pp. 33-34e


Page 34b

HISTORY OF THE COVERED BRIDGE
More than 40 covered bridges once dotted the Wisconsin country-
side. Today the sole survivor is the Cedarburg bridge, originally
known as the "Red Bridge", located three miles north of the City
of Cedarburg and 20 miles north of Milwaukee near the junction of
Routes 60 and 143 on the Covered Bridge Road.
After 85 years of continuous service, the old landmark began a life
of semi-retirement. A modern span was recently built beside the
old bridge which is now used exclusively for pedestrian traffic.
Built in 1876, the original span measured 120' long and 12' wide.
Its construction was of a certain type of pine found near Baraboo,
Wisconsin, and all of the timber and planks were cut and squared
in a mill near that city. The lumber was then hauled to the pro-
posed site on Cedar Creek where all pieces were fitted and set in
place. The type of construction is known as lattice truss with
interlacing 3 x 10 inch planks all held together by 2 inch hard-
wood pins and floored with three inch planking. It is now very
rare. In 1927 a center abutment was placed to carry the heavier
traffic of automobiles and trucks.
There were many prominent farmers living in the vicinity of this
covered bridge, whose decendents are still living in this area.
The names of some of these early settlers were the Kaehlers,
Krohns, Ernsts, Hickeys, Corrigans, Mintzlaffs, Schellenbergs and
Pollows. The petition for the building of the bridge is still in
the possession of William Mintzlaff, Route 1, Saukville, Wisconsin
whose father circulated it. In 1940 the Ozaukee County Board voted
to forever preserve this structure as an historic monument.
Many and varied reasons are given why such bridges were covered.
Some say it was to shelter travelers in storms, others hint of
refuge from the Indians, but there are two more reasonable conclu-
sions7 i.e., to preserve the truss structure and the fact that the
teams of oxen used by the area farmers had a fear of crossing the
water on an open bridge and frequently balked. One old legend
states that the covered bridge levelled off the farmers' hayloads
as they passed through. Another local legend has it that a member
of a county crew once drove through this bridge with his tractor,
fully equipped with a snowplow and dragging scrapers. Suddenly
realizing that tractors were strictly prohibited, he turned aroung,
recrossed the bridge, and splashed his way back through the creek,
confident that his wrong had been righted.
Future incidents like this are unlikely, since the bridge is now
an historic monument. On Oct. 1, 1955 the Port Washington Chapter,
Daughters of the American Revolution added to the bridge its one
modern embellishment, a plaque which reads:
1876                 1955
Last Covered Bridge
in Wisconsin
This marker was approved by the State Historical Society. However,
at that time, there was no County Historical Society. The present
Ozaukee County Historical Society, born in 1960, and very active in
the community, dedicated a State Historical Society Offical Marker
on Yav 23, 1965. It reads as follows:


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