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Bridge War of 1845 (Monegar)


Clarence Boyce Monegar was a Wisconsin native known for his watercolors of WI wildlife. (b.1910-d.1968)

Before Milwaukee was Milwaukee it was a collection of three small settlements. The two most prominent were separated by the Milwaukee River, Juneauville to the East and Kilbourn Town to the West (named for their founders Byron Kilbourn and Solomon Juneau). The two settlements competed over trade and shipping in the area and location on each side of the river carried different advantages. With this competition abound, even the streets where formed so that they did not match up with the corresponding lanes on the other side, with the intentions that bridges would not (or could not) be built to connect the two. Starting in 1840 however bridges did begin to be constructed, transforming the delicate balance of power that had been established. In 1845 several bridges were dismantled and destroyed. The two groups had little more than a rock throwing, shouting match, and a cannon showed up on the shore as a threat (but never fired) then communication was cut off. The territorial legislation that followed in 1845 settled the disputes, and bridges were again constructed across the river. The event of 1845, although calm by most standards, now holds the lofty name of the ‘Milwaukee Bridge War’.


Thank you to David & Monika Barera for adopting this artifact! This support enhances our Collections Department’s artifact preservation program. Learn more about our Adopt An Artifact program.