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

Plank Road

Plank Road Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devon Polzar, 2021
1. Plank Road Marker
Inscription.  One of the most innovative aids to the transport of goods in the early pioneer days between Watertown and Milwaukee was the creation of the Plank Road, a wooden highway that roughly conforms to US Highway 16 today. Started in the late 1840s, the road was finished as far as Watertown in 1853. Shipping goods before the invention of the plank road often took weeks at a time, but after the road was completed, the time was reduced to a matter of days. Known as the Milwaukee Plank Road in Watertown (and the Watertown Plank Road as it left Milwaukee), the road came into Watertown via what is today Oconomowoc Avenue, and turned onto Concord Avenue, then to Main Street. The road, originally a toll road, was abandoned with the arrival of the railroad in 1855 and was gradually taken apart and the logs discarded. The last toll house in Watertown, which stood along Oconomowoc Avenue, was torn down in 1999.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Roads & Vehicles.
Location. 43° 11.075′ N, 88° 42.426′ W. Marker is in Watertown, Wisconsin, in Jefferson
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County. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 919 Charles St, Watertown WI 53094, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. First Kindergarten (here, next to this marker); Fred C. Merkle (a few steps from this marker); Plank Road Pioneer Barn (within shouting distance of this marker); Richards Hill Ski Slide Site (within shouting distance of this marker); Octagon House (within shouting distance of this marker); Fred Merkle Field (approx. ¼ mile away); Adrian Joss / John P. "Red" Kleinow (approx. 0.3 miles away); In Honor of the 1955 Watertown High School State Baseball Champions (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Watertown.
More about this marker. Located on the grounds of the Octagon House Museum. The marker is behind the Octagon House near the First Kindergarten building.
Plank Road Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devon Polzar, 2021
2. Plank Road Marker
Pioneer Barn on the grounds of the Octagon House Museum image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devon Polzar, 2021
3. Pioneer Barn on the grounds of the Octagon House Museum
This barn, built by Wenzel Quis in the early 1850s and moved here in July 1963, was originally situated across the Rock River to the east of this spot on the old Plank Toll Road which ran between Watertown and Milwaukee, having been built in 1848. The eastern end of this road is marked at the Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee. The western extreme was at the bridge below this Octagon House hill. Toll was collected along the route and at toll houses at the eastern and western ends of the road. Early settlers throughout the area used this barn as a stopping off place for feeding and bedding down their livestock for a night en route to market in Milwaukee. A general store and tavern next door supplied the travellers with lodging and food and necessary feed for the cattle, who were allowed to graze within a fenced in area around the barn. After several years of use the barn burned down but was promptly rebuilt. Because the patrons recognized the value of the stopping off place, Quis was able to collect over $80 from visitors and neighbors in contributions to rebuilt it on the same foundation at a cost of $200. Mr. and Mrs. Harry S. Moore, 1423 Willow Street, Watertown, were the latest owners of this property. Being potterers, they converted this building into a little shop, adding the fireplace and windows. The fireplace is made of fieldstone with the mantel fashioned from a cypress wood beer cask found in the old Hartig's Brewery here. The windows with their original wavy glass are from the old Buchheit house, built in 1861 on the S. Fourth Street site of the present Trinity Lutheran Church. The Moores donated the barn to the Watertown Historical Society in 1963.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 15, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 14, 2021, by Devon Polzar of Port Washington, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 173 times since then and 34 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 14, 2021, by Devon Polzar of Port Washington, Wisconsin. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 2, 2023