A Brief History
On January 31, 1846, the result of the Milwaukee Bridge War was the formation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Fought over a bridge being built over the Milwaukee River, two of the three settlements in the area, Juneautown and Kilbourntown, were highly competitive with each other and along with Walker’s Point were incorporated as the Village of Milwaukee in 1839.
The intense rivalry between the leading citizens of each area boiled over in 1845 when one of the several bridges in the village was struck by a schooner sparking rumors of an intentional ramming. The Kilbourntown people on the West side dismantled their half of the hated bridge, enraging the Juneautown residents on the East side and resulting in two other bridges being destroyed and including the threatened use of a cannon.
Tension remained until December of 1845, and the formation of the City of Milwaukee on January 31, 1846. Also, nobody died from the “war.”
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you been to Milwaukee? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Charles River Editors. Milwaukee: The History of the Fur Trade Outpost that Became the Beer Capital of the World. CreateSpace, 2018.
Gurda, John. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods. Historic Milwaukee, 2020.
The featured image in this article, an Open Street Map view of Milwaukee showing the Milwaukee river highlighting the difference in grid layouts between the east and west side and the unusual angle of the bridges, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
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