Taylor's Bridge: Wisconsin's Last Queen-Post Bridge

© Photographed September 11, 2016
Erected by Old-Brule Heritage Society
South Range, Douglas County, Wisconsin
46° 38.977′ N, 91° 54.318′ W
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Donated by the OBHS by Dave, Misel, Kaile, Sam and Keri Williams
in memory of Uncle Paul Williams
Built in 1930, Taylor's Bridge is a very late specimen, and the only surviving wooden queen-post truss bridge in Wisconsin. When still in service on the old Bayfield-Superior Road in Douglas County it crossed the Middle River in the Town of Amnicon. The original site is approximately 5.25 miles woutheast of its current location, and a sign marks the original spot.

After George Stuntz and the federal government crews surveyed this area in the 1850s, the east-west path of the Bayfield-Superior Road was laid out. As early as 1871, a bridge crossed the Middle River at the original site of this bridge, allowing sleigh stages coming from Superior or Bayfield to continue on their way. Ashland and Bayfield County residents gained easier access to the Lake Superior and Mississippi  Railroad railhead in Duluth, MN for travel to St. Paul and Minneapolis, or on to Madison and Milwaukee from there. Copper miners used the Bayfield Road to get to the nearby Corona and Chippewa (or North Wisconsin) mines and other sites nearer the Brule River such as the Astor and Percival mines. The stage ran this route from 1871 to 1878 when the Wisconsin Central Railroad finally reached Ashland. The road continued to serve the local homesteading population as its principal overland access to the Twin Ports until the Northern Pacific was constructed through from Superior to Ashland in 1884.
George A. and Margaret Taylor arrived in the early 1900s, settling in the narrow valley of the Middle River on the south side of the Bayfield-Superior Road. George, a shipyard carpenter, had emigrated from Scotland in 1883. The Middle East had already been dammed for about a decade to store logs and to improve spring log drives downstream.

In the fall of 1929, the Town of Amicon petitioned the Douglas County Board of Supervisors to replace the bridge across the Middle River next to the Taylor farm, for which they were willing to pay one-half of its $800 cost. The new bridge was 40 feet-8 inches long and had a deck measuring 13 feet-8 inches wide. Made mostly of wood, suspended and bound by iron, it was relatively easy to maintain over the years, especially with the Taylor sawmill nearby. The Taylors had seven children. Their son Earl, a sawmill contractor, stayed on the homestead. A new bridge carrying the family name was built next to their farm in 1930. As of 1979, there were no known Taylor descendants living in this region.

In 1982, an automobile struck picturesque Taylor's Bridge. Shortly after, an article in the Superior Evening Telegram questioned the safety of the bridge for vehicular traffic, but also noted the historic value of the bridge as the last of its kind in the state.

The bridge was determined eligible for inclusion of the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Two years later, it was removed and laid to a temporary rest in a field about a mile and a half southwest of its original site. Douglas County Historical Society (DCHS), in cooperation with the Old Brule Heritage Society, Inc. (OBHS), erected a sign next to the Middle River at the original bridge site in 2002 with hopes that the bridge itself would eventually be suitably preserved and displayed. Director of DCHS, Kathy Laakso, Jim Pellman of OBHS, and others pursued possible plans to move the bridge to a final responding spot on public property.

Finally, in April 2012, member Harry Wester shared an idea at an OBHS general meeting "to bring this bridge to the Windmill site." The following month the OBHS Board approved this ambitious project, and during the next 15 months many OBHS members, especially Earl TeKippe, Brian Paulson and Dennis Hill, and community members Bob Bender and Leo Sanda, were involved in the effort. OBHS recognizes Ron Hendrickson, who voluntarily served as the project manager, coordinating the entire process -- spending many hours planning, securing materials, contacting and arranging contractors (Peter Waletzko and Dean Amys Excavations), movers (Woodhall Constructions), and being part of the work force.

According to Dave Williams, the very existence of the bridge today is due in large part of the quick thinking of the bridge's neighbor, Roy Martin. Roy was aware of an agreement to salvage the bridge upon its removal. He alertly noticed that the contractor was about to demolish the old girl and sent his wife over the stand on the bridge until Roy cleared the matter up and the artifact was saved.

Taylor's Bridge was moved to this site in September of 2011. Since its arrival, the crew replaced some deck planks and an end tie timber. This historic bridge now sits proudly in its new home.
Tayor's Bridge and marke are located on eastbound Old Highway 13, at its intersection with Wisconsin Route 13, South Range, Wisconsin 54874.

Lots of information here about the history of the area -- be sure to check it out!

Taylor's Bridge (visible to the right) is also at this location.

The Davidson Windmill (also listed on the National Register
of Historic Places), is also at this location.

Taylor's Bridge (to the left out of photo range) is
located at the intersection of River Road W and Wisconsin Highway 13.

Signage leading to the marker location . . .

The marker is located in South Range, Wisconsin.

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