“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Black River Falls in Jackson County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Martin W. Torkelson

(1878 – 1963)

Martin W. Torkelson Marker image. Click for full size.
By Keith L, October 26, 2007
1. Martin W. Torkelson Marker
Martin Torkelson, born in Jackson County, served the State of Wisconsin for more than fifty years. He was a pioneer in the development for both land and air trans­portation.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1904, Torkelson worked for the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, which was the forerunner of the State Highway Commission. His recommendations to the legisla­ture in 1917 led to Wisconsin's being the first state to set up a numbering system for its highways.

Torkelson's work was not restricted to highway improvement. As Secretary and Executive Officer of the Wisconsin State Park and Planning Board he published a recreational plan in 1939 to set aside land for public enjoyment. His report on airport development, published in 1945, provided the foundation on which the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has continued to build.

Torkelson believed that adequate transportation was vital to commerce and that neither agriculture nor industry could flourish without it.
Erected 1978 by the Wisconsin Historical Society. (Marker Number 247.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Wisconsin Historical Society marker series.
Location. 44° 12.24′ N, 90° 50.249′ W. Marker is near Black River Falls, Wisconsin, in Jackson County. Marker is at the intersection of Fall Hall Road and Wisconsin Highway 27, on the right when traveling west on Fall Hall Road. Click for map. Marker is at a wayside 6 miles south of Black River Falls. Marker is in this post office area: Black River Falls WI 54615, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Shamrock (approx. 2.8 miles away); The Passenger Pigeon (approx. 5.8 miles away); Highground Veterans Memorial (approx. 5.8 miles away); Black River Falls Forest Fire (approx. 5.8 miles away); Black River Valley (approx. 5.8 miles away); World War II Honor Roll / World War I · Korean · Vietnam Honor Roll (approx. 6 miles away); 1897 Model "French 75" (approx. 6 miles away); Jackson County Veterans Park (approx. 6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Black River Falls.
Also see . . .  From Names to Numbers: The Origins of the U.S. Numbered Highway System. "Wisconsin was the first State to replace trail signs with numbers. A 1917 State law that required the creation of a State trunk highway system of up to 5,000 miles included a provision requiring uniform guide and warning signs for the system... Previous to its installation, the ordinary method of directing travel was by referring to forks in the road, schoolhouses, red barns, and various other more or less convenient objects. Immediately on the installation of the marking system, all that was necessary was to say, for instance: "Take No. 12 until you meet No. 21 and follow 21 to your destination." A single, concise sentence, incapable of being misunderstood, took the place of the intricate and incomprehensible descriptions which previously were the only possible method of directing travel." (Submitted on November 11, 2007.) 
Additional comments.
Before refrigerated trucks, farmers had to get milk (a perishable commodity) to a market quickly and reliably. A good road system was an absolute necessity. These "milk roads" resulted in Wisconsin having one of the finest primary, secondary, and tertiary highway systems in the world. — from The Great Wisconsin Touring Book
    — Submitted November 12, 2007.

Categories. Notable PersonsRoads & Vehicles
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 1,179 times since then and 50 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on , by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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