Monday: Map Day!

UPDATED, April 26, 2021, to incorporate some interesting observations and corrections from reader Sam Cutler. (See the comments, below.)

I’ve had a busy weekend, and not much time to write. But I found an interesting, Clark- and Mequon-related map you may not have seen before.

The railroad next door

Nesbitt & Company, and Milwaukee And Superior Railroad Company. Map of the Milwaukee & Superior Rail Road and its connections. New York, 1857. Map. (Library of Congress). Click to open larger image in new window.

It’s the Milwaukee & Superior Rail Road and its connecting lines, circa 1857. This is the railroad that purchased the 100-foot right-of-way through the middle of the Clark farm, running generally south to north, just east of the Clark House and roughly parallel to the Cedarburg Road (the former Plank Road). The Library of Congress map department also notes that the map shows:

[…] Wisconsin and parts of Illinois and Michigan showing drainage, county boundaries, larger cities, and the railroad network. The main line is in red, and the Milwaukee and Chicago Railroad is in blue

Five Ozaukee stations

Nesbitt & Company, and Milwaukee And Superior Railroad Company. Map of the Milwaukee & Superior Rail Road and its connections. New York, 1857. Map. (Library of Congress). Detail showing Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties portion of route. Click to open larger image in new window.

If you look at the detail map, above, you’ll see that Ozaukee County was served by five stations on the M&S line. Sources show that the Clarks, their extended family and neighbors used this rail connection with Milwaukee on numerous occasions. The Cedarburg station, 18 miles from Milwaukee, was just about 2 miles north of the Clark house. We know from a variety of sources1 that many Mequon-area residents found the Cedarburg station the most convenient for travel to and from the city, once that part of the railway was completed.

More info

For more information about the Clarks’ land sale to the M&S RR, and an 1874 map that shows the railway’s route through Ozaukee County in even more detail, see last week’s Monday: Map Day!. Be sure to scroll down to that post’s sections titled Section 3 and the (former) Clark Farm, 1874 and Bonus items for relevant info.

One thing that is not clear from today’s 1857 map is how much of the Milwaukee & Superior rail line was actually completed and in use by 1857. Considering that the Clarks only closed their right-of-way land sale with the railroad on August 7, 1857, it’s possible that the tracks had not been laid by the time the map went to press.2

It’s also possible that the map represents the functioning M&S RR line (in red) as it existed at the time. This would suggest that the map may have reflected things as they were by the end of 1857, and so was actually published in 1858 or thereabouts.

Until next time. Be well.



  1. In his autobiography, James W. Woodworth mentions many rail journeys to and from his original home in Mequon’s T9-N, R21-E, sec. 1. Depending on the day and time, my impression is that he preferred to use the Cedarburg station. But if the railroad schedule did not provide a timely Cedarburg stop, he would use the Mequon or Grafton station and walk the rest of the way home.

    After the Clark and Turck family relocated to Milwaukee in the 1860s, several family members and friends served as administrators or guardians for various family probate and guardianship cases. Their railroad travel between Milwaukee and Mequon via Cedarburg is documented by a number of receipts that were saved as part of the relevant probate court files. I’ll have much more to say about these at a later date.

  2. For what it’s worth, we should note that autumn of 1857 was a pivotal moment in the lives of the Clark and Turck families. Jonathan and Mary (Turck) Clark sold the right-of-way to the railroad on August 7. And then on September 20—just a month and a half later—Jonathan M. Clark died at the age of 44. As far as I know, there is no connection between the two events. But is it possible that Jonathan was ailing, and sold the land so that Mary might have some extra cash on hand if his health did not improve? Or was this just another savvy JMC land deal, made by a then-healthy man in his forties? At the moment, we have no way of knowing.

5 thoughts on “Monday: Map Day!

  1. Good Morning, I think the map of the Milw. & Superior is quite misleading. It certainly was not built before the Civil War. Byron Kilbourn’s Milw. & LaCrosse railroad scandal began in 1856 with his bribing of state officials and pretty much put a stop to all railroad schemes. Regards, Sam


    • Hello, Sam!

      Thanks for the info. I suspected the map might be a bit “optimistic” in describing thee Milwaukee & Superior road. Do you know if all five of the Ozaukee county stations on the map were finally built? Any idea when the M&S was actually up and running?

      And I missed the whole Kilbourn railroad scandal. Yet another piece of the early-Milwaukee and Washington/Ozaukee history puzzle…

      Thanks again.


    • A little more info: From Current, The History of Wisconsin, Vol. II, p.244 Three corporations – the Milwaukee and Superior, the Milwaukee and Beloit, and the Wisconsin Central – had received a total of more than $800,000 in farm mortgages and loans from local governments and had dissipated the entire proceeds without putting into operation a single mile of track.


      • Oh, ho! What a mess. I did a little reading on this just now, and it looks like this whole business was made even worse by the financial Panic of 1857 (which I had overlooked earlier; it’s hard to keep all those 19th-century financial collapses straight).

        This makes me wonder:

        • Did the Clarks receive the $500 sale price for their right-of-way in 1857 in cash, or as a (perhaps not-paid-in-full) mortgage from the M&S? The abstract of title is not clear on this, but I think I can check the deed records.

        • It looks like the Milwaukee & Superior may have never laid much (or any?) track before going bust, yet some railroad—from Milwaukee to Cedarburg and beyond—did eventually go through the Clark farm, so which rail company actually put in the first tracks along this line, and when?

        Thanks again. Stay tuned for more transportation-themed posts coming this week.


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