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Roads-Bridges--Mail by Coach--Railroads--Electricity--Means of Communication



The first pioneers who ventured into the deep, thick forest-a vast roadless wilderness---came overland from Black River Falls in a wagon drawn by a team of oxen, cutting their way through heavy brush and over fallen timber. This is the history of the first road made into Clark County, and without doubt this thought prevailed--that its history is for the most part in the future, but it is a glorious history for all that.

Soon after, or in 1850, other pioneers, who were attracted by the tall, straight, and thickly standing pine, the lay of the land, and the rich soil, began to settle, and as in the earlier days, blazing a trail farther north. This trail was known as the "Tote Road". Still later, this trail was blazed out farther north than our wee burg, west and east--west through Eaton Town, where three separate wooden structures bridged the river at the spot of the two islands--thence north following on the west side of the river, through the gravel pit, on north to what is now a well surfaced road. Another trail, going west, went through where the Greenwood cemetery now is, and crossing the river at this place was done by ferry.

Artistic depiction of the Ferry

This ferry carried the first settlers across the river, and was a short distance north of the bridge crossing at Eaton Town. The last mentioned trail followed a northerly direction to the top of the hill west of the Black River bridge, or the Harlow hill as this was later known; thence perhaps more north than west over the high ridge for several miles. These trails were naturally rough, owing to the knolls, roots and boulders, and in the low places, new trails would be made around these obstructions, the old track soon growing to thick brush. These roads were a1ways wet, owing to the low level, and the thickly standing timber. Because of the deep mud, no wagons could be used, and the jumper and the pung came into popularity.

These means, the ox-teams, the jumper or the pung were used to visit one's neighbors, perhaps several miles distant. The story is told of people hitching their ox-teams to the jumper and starting out early in the day to enjoy an evening of dancing, arriving at dusk, the oxen wading in mud above their knees. The people would dance all night, and start back home in the early twilight, feeling that the oxen were safe, and sure.

Close to the surface is what is called hard pan--a gray, heavy clay-like soil, and this, with the thickly standing timber, were the cause of the muddy trails and roads. To make long, low stretches passable, tall, straight timbers, or logs were placed at the outer sides f or the foundation. This work could be done only in the summer and during the driest part of that season. The next work was to lay the top logs across, first flattening or hewing out the ground where they rested on the foundation logs. Through the center a track about six feet wide was hewn flat, or wide-enough for wagon tracks. This was called corduroy, which of course, made riding very uncomfortable, being both rough and bumpy. The driver would oft times be forced to ride alone, the other occupants preferring to walk on these rough and bumpy stretches. As the country became settled and the land cleared, roads gradually dried so that work other than corduroy was done, which also brought other means of conveyance.

A copy of the Clark County Advocate dated September 26, 1864, contains an advertisement of lumber wagons, buggies, family carriages, sulkies, bob-sleds, long slbds, short sleds, and cutters, the long jumper and the pung falling out of use. Horses replaced the ox-teams, and wheeled vehicles the runners.


In early days on Black River
When the ice began to crack
Many logs adrift this stream
Went floating with the pack.

But now since time has left us
Black River quietly goes
Without her supple river hogs,
And her logs and jammed ice floes.

Although each spring when the ice goes out
And drifts along just so,
We sometimes wish for those logging days
On Black River long ago.


Many rods of corduroy were built just, outside of our city's hill, south front "Bishop's Hill" to Rock Creek, and corduroy replaced the log trestle beyond the bridge to well up the incline of "Lincoln's Hill"; also east, west and north from the intersection of Main street and Begley Avenue. As the roads dried more freely the corduroy would be removed, and grading and graveling were done.

During the sunvmer of 1882 Herman and John Schwarze and Henry Decker built a turnpike road from Alder Creek to Black River. In 1890 the town of Eaton graded and prepared the road beginning at the city limits and graveled south, John Nichol was town chairman and supervised the work. This stretch of graveled or surface road held up for many years, and proved Mr. Nichol's keen judgment and knowledge of road building. Dan Cook, during his terms as town chairman also proved himself in the building of good and long lasting roads.

In the fall of 1916 there came another change when the County Board adopted a County Trunk Line System, a system of prospective state highways. The old "tote road" is now a part of State Highway 73, with concrete, which was built during the summer of 1930, beginning at the intersection of Begley Avenue, continuing south on Main Street and ending two and one-half miles south. This was the first concrete built in the city and in Eaton Township.


When the early settlers first came, Rock Creek was forded in several places. One crossing was near the Edmunds' Rips just above the Soo Line bridge, and one where the lumber camps once stood on Mr. Keiner's land, a third down the creek where the road is.

Just south of the bridge was a bad slough or swamp, and in 1869 a bridge of logs with a pier in the center of the creek was erected, and a trestle of logs from the bridge south over this slough, to the foot of "Lincoln's Hill." Lincoln's Hill, as it was called in the early days, is at the top of the incline south of Rock Creek bridge.

The first bridge was washed away in 1879 and for ten days P. E. Peterson, then a youth, ran a ferry. It was during this time that Pete's grandfather, Peter O. Voddan, who was seventy-eight years old, walked from Neillsville to Greenwood, and the old gentleman was quite amazed to find that his young grandson was the pilot of the ferry.

At this time an iron bridge was built and in May, 1894 a torrential rainstorm caused the railroad bridge to wash out, which came down the creek, crashing into the wagon bridge, tearing it loose and leaving it moored to the north bank. A third bridge was built, which as the traffic increased, proved to be too light, and it was replaced in 1924 by amore substantial one of concrete and steel. This one still stands.

In 1875 a bridge was built across Black River at Eaton Town, the spot of the two islands. The west channel was the widest and required a two-span bridge; the middle channel was narrow, and required only a single span. These two bridge crossings were above the rolling dam. The east bridge was also a single span, but was below the rolling dam. To prepare a solid foundation, holes were drilled into the granite. Next, the ends of iron rods were heated red; one end was split and a wedge placed in it; then it was brought to red heat again and driven into the drilled hole in the granite; then sulphur was stamped around; Evidence of this remains. (1934) John Cox was the boss of this work.

The story is told of George Andrews having a very promising patch of corn, about where Charles Varney's house now stands, and Mr. Schofield owning a beautiful herd of steers. While seeking new pastures, they found Mr. Andrews' corn. George drove them out and the herd of aforesaid "beautiful steers" gathered on the east span, stamping and chasing flies; all went down. One of the steers so badly injured its spine that it had to be killed. This part of the river crossing was never rebuilt. It is also told of John Stewart, (some time around 1885) going to the grist mill, located on west island, with a load of wheat. When he had driven well onto the west bridge, the north stringer gave way, and Mr. Stewart with his team, wagon and bags of, the newly fanned wheat slipped into the pond. Men, who were at work on the opposite side of the river, quickly came to the rescue. Everything was saved, and without damage; only two or three spokes were broken in one of the wheels. The east span had gone down, so it was necessary to cross on the bridge which had been erected on a site north of the present one, and drive south along the west bank.

In the summer of 1882 a bridge of hewn timbers was erected over Black River, S. M. Andrews building the piers, which are still in evidence. This bridge went out in a flood in 1887. Fred Buker built the piers higher with head blocks, timbers one and one-half feet square, which raised the piers three or four feet. This superstructure was a combination bridge of iron and wood, which had been in use at Dells Dam, and at this time was piled near the Court House at Neillsville. Clark County gave the material to the township of Warner and Eaton. Al Armstrong and Carl Richelieu moved the material to the erection site. This bridge was in use until 1893, when in a severe wind storm it went down, and was replaced by the present one, John Schwarze building the abutments.

Prior to 1893 the bridges mentioned had been erected in the town of Warner, the road making short turn on both sides of the river to meet the spot where the channel was narrowest. Some controversy existed between the two townships as to which should keep the combination bridges in repair; Eaton feeling that that was Warner's duty owing to the fact that it was on the Warner side of the line. To settle all disputes the road was straightened and the bridge of 1893 was erected on the line dividing the two townships.


Early, means of carrying mail was by stagecoach which was large enough to carry five or six passengers and the mail pouches. The driver's cab was outside and all was under cover.

In 1870 Williani H. Begley secured the contract for carrying the mail from Black River Falls, and hired Jesse Crane as his first driver. In 1872 Henry Marhar was hired f or this position. In 1884, William Cornick secured the contract to carry the mail between Neillsville and Withee. Mr. Cornick then hired H. H. Hartson to drive the stage between Neillsville and Greenwood and Harry E. Hogue, who was then a lad of fifteen years, to carry mail between Greenwood and Withee. He made these trips on horseback. Frank Carter, Charles Cummings and Paschal Wallis were others who received contracts. Mail was delivered each day except Sunday.


In 1891, the Wisconsin Central Railroad, now owned by the Soo Line Company, completed their branch line between Marshfield and Greenwood, which is yet the terminus. About three miles west of Loyal is the big cut through which the railroad passes. It is something wonderful and awe inspiring. The length and depth of it can be easily estimated when the fact is known that it took fifty teams and one hundred men fully three months to make the excavations. It was a mighty piece of work. After passing through this cut, level country is again reached and the depot comes into view.

Six years later, in 1897, the Fairchild and North Eastern (Poster & Nobody Else) reached our city. The road was first built along the west bank of Black River to the wagon bridge, the plan being to cross the river at the Ross farm, formerly the B. F. Thompson farm. This plan proved unwise and a new survey was made, which would bring the tracks into the city. A bridge was built across the river near the Morris Anderson farm., the road continuing east through the Robert Schofield property.

The Wisconsin Central Railway Company began to think that the Fairchild and North Eastern was trespassing on their right of way. So, one Saturday night a work train and crew was brought to Greenwood, and in the early dawn of Sunday morning they began the work of laying a track over the ground where the F. & N. E. had planned to lay theirs, -moving their train as fast as the track was laid. N. C. Foster of Fairchild, who financed the building of the F. & N. E., was notified of the proceedings, and soon arrived upon the scene, bringing with him a crew of workmen.

Mr. Foster consulted the foreman of the Wisconsin Central line, but the interview was not very satisfactory, and Mr. Foster, a tall, robust and gray-haired man, walked toward his men and called "come on boys!" Going beyond the Wisconsin Central men who were at work he proceeded to tear up the newly laid tracks leaving these men and the work train on a bit of isolated and detached track! For several hours excitement ran high; however, it subsided without any physical violence being done.

The F. & N. E. got ahead of the rival road, and as a result, the Wisconsin Central was never extended farther. The Fairchild and North Eastern was practically a Clark County Railway, and the credit for the building was justly due N. C. Foster, who, through his energy and public spirit financed and constructed this railway without a dollar of public aid and without an acre of land grant.

In April 1929 this line was discontinued as many other branch lines have been forced to do; the rails were taken up and moved away and only the bridge crossing Black River remains.

In the year of 1909, all of the Wisconsin Railway lines were leased by the Sault Ste. Marie Railway Company rnore briefly and familiarly known as the "Soo Line" a part of the Canadian Pacific Company. The Soo Line still continues to -make its daily trips between Marshfield and our city, excepting Sunday.


The dam across Black River was started in October 1905 and accepted by the city council August 6, 1906. To construct the dam fourteen carloads of cement, forty-two of sand and seventy of gravel, one hundred twenty-six loads in all, were needed.

The power house was 16x34 feet with an eleven foot ceiling. The dynamo was of the sixty-kilowatt, sixty cycle, alternating current type, running nine hundred revolutions per minute, and requiring seventy-five horsepower with full load. The system, covered nearly four miles of poles, with seven street arc lights, and. twenty-nine side-street lights.

In June 1914, during a season of very high water, the sand soil on the east bank washed out, leaving the power house standing in the middle of the stream. Much expense and much labor has been spent on this dam.

The High Line was built through Greenwood in 1919 by the Northern States Light and Power Company, who have their powerful dam at Chippewa Falls. In 1926 this company bought the city's equipment with tools for about $7,000.00.

Before electric service was available, streets were lighted by oil lamps placed on posts perhaps six feet high. This type of illumination was used for at least ten years previous to 1905.


In 1878 The Black River Improvement Association built their own telephone line between Dells Darn and Hemlock. This was practically an individual line for logger's use, to order supplies, etc. The company did install a telephone in Jones Bros. And Johnson store.

Later H. H. Heath of Neillsville secured and rebuilt that part of his line between Neillsville and Greenwood. The next improvement was made by J. C. Marsh of Marshfield and W. L. Smith of Neillsville after purchasing the system from Mr. Heath. This line was known as "The Badger State Telephone and Telegraph Company."

Early in the year 1905 the Greenwood Telephone Company was organized and legally incorporated on April 3rd, with K. W. Baker, P. W. Anderson, John Bryden and A. S. Armstrong as incorporators. The officers elected from the board of directors were C. 0. Baker, President; John Bryden, Vice President; S. J. Tscharner, Secretary and J. B. Stair, Treasurer.

On July 29 of the same year the company purchased from The Badger State Telephone Company that part of their plant which was located within the city limits for $800. There were twenty-two phones in operation in 1906.

In the summer of 1930 The Greenwood Telephone Company rebuilt the lines in the city, removing all, poles to the alleys. At this time the company owned and operated 102 miles of poles, 200 miles of wire, 45,325 feet of cable pairs at which time there were in service 130 city phones, 142 rural phones, besides giving switching service to 61 other rural phones.

The first operator for the Greenwood Telephone Company was Pearl Shanks Plecity, who now resides at Gilman in this state.

The present officers are C. C. Hoehne, President; Everett M. Peterson, Vice President; Robert Zetsche, Treasurer and P. E. Peterson, Secretary and Manager. In 1913 the stockholders received their first dividend and the company has paid out in dividends up to the present time $6,303.70, beside the stock dividend of fifty percent.


Prior to 1920 the Wisconsin Central and the Soo Line Railway Companies used their own telephone lines for business. In that year the Western Union came in. Throughout these years Myron E. Kenyon has been station agent and telegraph operator also.


Bernard E. Hogue, after reading and experimenting for several months before 1916-1917, finally made a wireless on which he received in code the correct time from Arlington Station. This was dismantled during the World War, but after the war this set was put in order for use. His next experiment was with the radio on which he was able to hear the announcer at Detroit. In 1922 he made a similar radio for Charles Varney and in 1923 one for Dr. F. A. Boeckman, who was Located here at that time, but who is now at Marshfield. These were both battery and earphone sets.

In 1931 he made an electric radio for himself, and in 1932 another one for his parents. Bernard has also made and installed a short wave broadcasting outfit on which he has talked with a party in New York City, in Buffalo and San Francisco. In 1931 he made and installed a public address system in the school where he is teaching, Washington School, Cudahy.

Bernard E. Hogue is the older son of William E. and Ingeborg (Peterson) Hogue, and grandson of our centenarian, Elias Peterson.

On the afternoon of May 20, 1933 the first radio broadcast by Greenwood talent was given at the studio of WLBL at Stevens Point.

This program of classical music was under the direction of Miss Mabel Bishop, assisted by the following: Mrs. G. Heilman, Allen Wuethrich, Donald Stabnow, Lloyd Kenyon, Clarence Maddock, Lucille Schwarze, Vera Humke, and Emelia Matkovich.

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