Muscoda’s River Crossings: An Abridged History

The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board’s regular monthly business meeting April 14 featured a presentation by Executive Director Mark Cupp on river crossings at Muscoda.  

Cupp said 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 Legislature, agreed to invest $16,000 in a new toll bridge with additional investors putting in another $8,000. There were complaints about the tolls for using the new bridge, but it provided an important link across the Wisconsin River.


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 may still be seen on the upstream side of the existing bridge. By the early 1920s, the public demands for a “free” bridge had intensified and, after years of legal battles and planning, a new highway bridge was constructed with a grand opening in 1929. 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. 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 Gov. Tommy Thompson dedicating the bridge the following year.

The next LWSRB meeting will be held in Boscobel on May 12.  For more information, contact Mark E. Cupp, LWSRB executive director, at (608) 739-3188 or (608) 739-2179 (cell) or e-mail mark.cupp@wisconsin.gov