History: Wis. Road Building (1868 - 1953)

Contact:  Dee Zimmerman
Email:  ldzimm@tds.net

----Source: Clark County News: August, 1953; Compiled by Dee Zimmerman for her weekly column "The Good Ole Days" published July 9, 2003.

August 1953

At the session of the state legislature, in 1868, an act was passed that proved of very great service in making the initial start in building good roads and highways in Clark County. In 1868, there were no good roads in the county, any where. Attempts had been made from time to time by the few towns to make turnpike roads, here and there, mostly by the residents working out their highway taxes. The result was that after a good rainfall, the so called turnpike, or improved road, was worse than the original virgin soil. James O'Neill, who was a member of the Assembly for Clark and Jackson district in 1868, although at first opposed it, introduced a bill in the legislature of that year entitled "a bill to authorize the supervisors of Clark County to levy a tax, for the purpose, there- in named." It became a law and is Chapter 483 of the Private and Local laws of that year. On the 25th of May, 1868, the county board authorized a levy of $7,000 for that year. Benjamin F. French, Jan Hewett and Hones Tompkins were appointed commissioners in accordance with provisions of the act.

At once, the commissioners began the performance their duties and contra, were let from time to time do the work. In the year 1868 and the two succeeding years, the entire amount authorized, was expended. Leonard R. Stafford had number of sections of I road to make, as did Hew & Woods and others.

A few years later, an act the same character, but for the expenditure of a much smaller amount, was pass to aid in the construction the road from Neillsville Humbird.

The law referred to was passed in 1871. It was at the session of the legislate when Hon. Geo. W. King was a member of the legislature from Clark County. King then lived at Humbird and was interested in having a good road between his home and Neillsville. At the time, he had a saw mill the highway from Humbird to Neillsville, a little over five miles east of Humbird known around the area as, "King's Mills."

This law of 1871 or authorized the expenditure of $5,000. The other provisions of the act were of singular character, as to appointing commissioners, public letting, as was contained the law regarding the main Black River Road.

A large amount of the money appropriated for the Humbird Road was expended in building a "corduroy" road, the character of the land between Hewettville and Humbird necessitating that character of a highway.

The wisdom of the enactment of the act of the legislature of 1868, authorizing the county to improve the main Black River Road, at the expense of the county, h been demonstrated by the existence today of the splendid highway along the Black River, from the bridge Richard Lynch's, in the town of Levis, north through the county to the town of Hixon and beyond. (The above articles were taken from the Clark County Centennial edition of 1953, which reviewed some of the county's early history. This month; July 2003, marks Clark County's 150th Anniversary. Dee Z.)



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