History: Green Grove: Rustic Road
Contact: Crystal Wendt

Surnames: Molle, Zantow, Sloth, Bieno

----Sources: Scrap book one: by Elsa Lange Hardrath & Dorthaleen Edwards Hardrath

Contributed by Halbert "Bud" Hardrath


A wooden bridge dating from the late 1800’s, an elk farm and picturesque woodland and farms are some of the elements that helped win a "Rustic Road" designation for a 2.8-mile stretch in the Town of Green Grove.

The segments of Robin Avenue and Cloverdale Road were approved Sept. 25 as the State’s Rustic Road Number 73, and will be designated with the distinctive brown and yellow signs that identify all Rustic Roads in the state.

The Rustic Road system, according to a DOT pamphlet, invites visitors to take "A Positive Step Backward" by slowing down, appreciating the natural beauty of many Wisconsin settings, and exploring some of the cultural or historical points of interest on local roadways.

The Green Grove Town Board, interested citizens and Ed Bieno, director of the Clark County Economic Development Corp., were all instrumental in gaining approval for the county’s first Rustic Road.

The state’s newest Rustic Road include that stretch of Robin Avenue south of Hwy N in Green Grove to Cloverdale Road, and then heading west on Cloverdale to Hwy P.

Green Grove Town Clerk Dorothy Sloth explained that the application for Rustic Road designation was generated after a required public hearing and a town board approval. Town officers include Chairman Ron Lindgren and Supervisors Roland Hake and Greg Untiedt.

"Ed Bieno approached us at the township annual meeting in 1995 and we had several meetings after that with him and Evan Zantow (a member of the Rustic Roads Committee from West Salem)," said Sloth, who helped 0put the application package together.

The application noted that the "high bride," as it is known by local residents, is one of the focal points of the road. It spans the Wisconsin Central RR tracks, and the railroad owns and maintains it.

"A careful inspection of the wooden plants might reveal smoky scars left by the wood and coal-burning engines that earlier plied these rail routes," stated the application.

Bieno said that besides the town board route, applications may also be turned in by residents of a certain stretch of road who want it to be part of the special program.

Bieno took pictures of various spots along the roads and they were sent in with the township’s application. The 10-person Rustic Road met last week to hear from several applicants, and Bieno attended the meeting to urge approval for Green Grove’s nominee.

Local authorities are encouraged to preserve the natural and scenic characteristics of land along the Rustic Roads. The chance for development along most of them, including #73, is minimal, and Green Grove’s application estimated 30 to 50 vehicles per day on the two segments of roadway.

Bieno said the railroad bridge was built in the late 1800’s, but the recollections of two old-timers put it about a decade later. Both Harold Hardrath and Alfred Molle come from families that had land in that area when the railroad came through. Molle estimated the construction at 1910, and Hardrath 1908.

"I used to play on the bridge when I was a boy. The railroad went right through my grandpa’s land," said Molle.

Both he and Hardrath stated the bridge underwent a face-lift, possibly in the late 1950’s. In fact, Molle got some timbers from the old bridge.

"The crew was happy that I took them so they didn’t have to haul them up that bank. They just took them down the line and dumped them on my land. I got a lot of two-by-fours out of them," he said.

Hardrath said that the deck and railings of the bridge have been replaced, but that some of the supporting members are still intact from the original structure.

Bieno said an 8.6-mile stretch of roads in the Town of Hewett in southwestern Clark County is also tentatively approved as another Rustic Road. A public hearing on that application was to be held this week.

That segment includes the ruins of an old community known as Columbia, and old steel bridge, cemeteries with markers from the 1800’s and some splendid natural scenery.

[Photo captions - - The old high bridge over the Wisconsin Central Railroad tracks include some of the original structural members, according to several sources. The bridge was built almost 100 years ago. At left is another view of Wisconsin’s 73rd designated Rustic Road, which includes 2.8 miles of gravel on Sparrow Ave. and Cloverdale Road in the Town of Green Grove. The state’s Rustic Road program seeks to preserve little-traveled roads of historic or cultural significance or natural beauty.]



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