“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Muskego in Waukesha County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Janesville Plank Road Tollgate

Janesville Plank Road Tollgate Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Linda Hansen, February 18, 2017
1. Janesville Plank Road Tollgate Marker
Inscription.  This is the location of an original tollgate located at the Muskego Centre on the Janesville Plank Road; one of 16 privately owned toll roads authorized by the Wisconsin Territorial legislature in 1848. It was to follow a sixty-five mile route beginning in the City of Milwaukee, by way of Big Bend, to East Troy and then to the Village of Janesville. It was to also connect with other plank roads in Wisconsin. It was built on the 1838 Janesville Territorial Road, which followed an Indian trail extending from the rice marshes of Milwaukee southwestwards to Janesville.

The legislature set maximum toll rates that could be levied by the owners of the private road: "tollgates may be erected and tolls collected whenever five miles are finished, not exceeding two cents a mile for every vehicle, sled, sleigh or carriage drawn by two animals, and if drawn by more than two animals, one cent a mile for every additional animal. For every score (10) of sheep or swine three cents a mile and for every score of cattle four cents per mile." It was common practice for farmers to drive their animals to market. Persons exempted from tolls were those going to

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a required military parade, a funeral or any religious meeting on Sunday. The plank roads effectively cut in half the travel time as compared to the unimproved trails of the day; many of which became totally impassable in the springtime.

By 1854 only 24 miles had been completed near the Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee and reaching Mukwonago. Tollgates were at Forest Home Cemetery, Hales Corners, and here at the Muskego Centre, where it intersected with the Waterford Plank Road.

Maintenance costs were quite high as the wood rotted within five years and the profits were not as high as expected. The coming of the railroads in the 1860s was the beginning of the end for this and other plank roads in Wisconsin. As the plank roads were abandoned, they reverted back to the local municipalities for maintenance and upgrading.

Today, Janesville Road still serves the public in much the same way it was intended to over a hundred and sixty years ago.
Erected 2014.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AnimalsIndustry & CommerceRailroads & StreetcarsRoads & Vehicles.
Location. 42° 54.391′ N, 88° 8.279′ W. Marker is in Muskego, Wisconsin, in Waukesha County. Marker is on Janesville Road,

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on the right when traveling west. Next cross street is Pioneer Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Muskego WI 53150, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Muskego Beach Amusement Park (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); "Do I Smell Pizza-Burgers?" (approx. ¼ mile away); Historic Muskego Centre Park (approx. ¼ mile away); The Electric Interurban Muskego Centre Station (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Devil's Teapot (approx. 0.6 miles away); Old Muskego Town Hall (approx. 0.7 miles away); Park Arthur (approx. 1½ miles away); Linnie Lac (approx. 1.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Muskego.
Additional keywords. Janesville Plank Road, Muskego, Waterford Plank Road, Toll Road
Credits. This page was last revised on March 16, 2017. It was originally submitted on March 14, 2017, by Linda Hansen of Waukesha, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 558 times since then and 111 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on March 14, 2017, by Linda Hansen of Waukesha, Wisconsin. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Dec. 3, 2023