Highway Shop Picture

120 Bowen Circle,
Richland Center, WI 53581



120 Bowen Circle, Richland Center, WI 53581





The general shape of Richland County is almost a square, except along the southern border, where the line follows the Wisconsin River, and is therefore of an irregular shape. Richland County contains sixteen townships; it covers 620 square miles or nearly 400,000 acres. The general character of the land is steep, bluffy hills and fertile valleys, and streams course down each dale. The earliest overland routes were Indian trails, which in many cases determined the route of early roads.

In the fall of 1845, Samuel Swinehart, one of the early Richland County settlers, joined a party of men and opened the first wagon road from Richmond (Now known as the town of Orion) to Rockbridge. In many areas, the "blazed" track through the woods was the early settlers only pathway or road available for them to travel the 70 miles or more to the nearest mills. The roads were frequently mud-clogged and rutted which made traveling hazardous and uncomfortable.

As settlement spread across the county, there were several petitions presented to the Richland County Board of Supervisors asking if companies might be empowered to build plank roads. The Richland County Board of Supervisors appointed a committee to look into the matter.

The newly appointed committee reported that it is in the best interest of this county that the said petitions, with restrictions, be granted; and the committee recommended that Garwood Green, Joseph C Clark and J W Coffinberry, of the town of Buena Vista; D L Downs, Charles G Rodolf and Napoleon Graham, of the town of Richmond; R M Miller, Jacob Rhodes and Reuben Powers, of the town of Richwood, be appointed commissioners to draft and compile charters, open stock or subscriptions for one, two or three plank and turnpike companies.

The committee held their first meeting at Richmond, Dec 20, 1856, and agreed that one road may commence at Richland City (Lone Rock), one at Richwood and one at Port Andrew, to run northerly in direction and end at a location as determined by the commissioners, with capital for all the highways not to exceed $20,000.

It was not known at that time, but the Richland County Board of Supervisors and this newly formed committee were making decisions that lead to the creation of the Richland County Highway Commission in the near future.

Richland County’s first recorded Highway Commissioner was G. W. Mainwaring who began his career in 1909. In his youth, he was a telegraph operator and then became a civil engineer. Mainwaring served Richland County Highway for approximately 8 years. He passed away at his home in September 1944.

Public support for permanent, safe and efficient roads spread across the state in the 1890s. A state-supported highway program was then established. The State of Wisconsin Highway Commission was created and appropriated $350,000 of state money to aid towns and counties in the construction of roads and bridges. The first work under this law was done in 1912. It was during this time that the State of Wisconsin Highway Commission required all counties to elect a County Highway Commissioner if they wanted to participate in the state funding. Richland County already had a Highway Commissioner as noted above. During the first year of this program, Richland County was awarded $2,840.85 to use on its roads and bridges. The policy for state aid for construction and maintenance was very successful, so successful, that the counties and towns petitioned for a total $823,000 of state aid for the following year of which Richland County was awarded $3,354.86.

Melvin Carter was Richland County’s second Highway Commissioner. He remained employed for Richland County for only 1 year, from 1918 to 1919. Virgil Robinson, Mainwaring’s nephew, was the third commissioner in Richland County. Robinson was commissioner for thirty-eight years. Richland County has had 8 commissioners at the helm since 1909.

Richland County Highway Commission Commissioners:

George H. Mainwaring 1909 - 1917
Melvin O. Carter 1918 - 1919
Virgil Robinson 1920 - 1958
Tony Pokorny 1959 - 1963
Ken Rentz 1963 - 1979
John Huth 1979 - 2001
Randy Schoeneberg 2001 - 2010
James Chitwood 2010 - Current Commissioner

1911 Wisconsin State Statutes, Section 1317m-6, page 846

History of Crawford and Richland Counties, Wisconsin - Union Publishing Company - Springfield, IL – 1884

History of Richland County by Judge James H. Miner – 1906

Finances, Viola News, October 30, 1919

Former Highway Commissioner Dies, Richland Democrat, September 28, 1944, Page 1.

George Mainwaing Dies at Richland Hospital, Republican Observer, September 28, 1944, Page 1.

Wisconsin Historical Society, Hit the Road: Early Road Development,

Wisconsin Public Documents collection,

Wisconsin Farmers' Institutes / Wisconsin Farmers' Institutes : a hand-book of agriculture. A report of the twenty-fifth annual closing Farmers' Institute, held at Hudson, Wisconsin, March 14, 15, 16, 1911, Bulletin No. 25 (1911) Hotchkiss, W. O. Wisconsin's new highway law, pp. 284-293

Extended History,

Below is a picture of Richland County Employees out in front of the Courthouse. Note our very first Highway Commissioner, George H Mainwaring, pointed out in the crowd. He served Richland County from 1909 - 1917.
Richland Employees

Below is a picture of the old Richland County Highway Shop when it was new. This shop was located downtown where the USH 14 and STH 80 intersection is now.
Old Shop

Below is a picture of the old Richland County Courthouse in the year 1889.
Courthouse 1889

Below is a picture of the very first concrete bridge built in Richland County. It was located on CTH JJ in Buena Vista Township.
Concrete Bridge

Below is a picture of an accident on the Lone Rock Bridge. A tractor has fallen off of the bridge. The picture was dated 1905.
Accident Bridge

Below is a picture of CTH D just west of STH 80.
Highway D

Below is a picture of county workers working on CTH I.
Highway I

Below is a picture of county workers installing culverts on CTH O.
Highway O

Below is a picture of county workers installing drain tile.
Drain tile

Below is a picture of Simmons Bridge in Richland County.

Below is a picture of the county workers crushing rock in Shannon Quarry in 1937.
Rock Crushing

Below is another picture of our workers crushing rock in Shannon Quarry in 1937.
Rock Crushing

Below is a picture of county forces crushing rock in a Richland County Quarry.
Rock Crushing

Below is a picture of a county worker on a Case Tractor.

Below is a picture of a county worker on a Case Tractor.

Below is a picture of a county worker with his Richland County Highway Truck.

Below is a picture of a Buckeye Dacton Ditch Digger being used on a county road.

Below is a picture of an excavator at work and Richland County Highway workers with a truck.

Below is a picture of STH 80 South of Dunn Bridge.
STH 80


The Richland County Highway Shop was built in 1994.

The facility consists of:


Vehicle Storage and Repair
36,700 square feet
Storage of 15 trucks
Wash Bay
Parts Storage
Mezzanine Storage
Three-bay Repair Access
Five-ton Overhead Bridge Crane
Welding Shop with Isolated Exhaust System

Office and Employee Services Area
Lunch Room
Locker Roon
Conference/Training Room
Administrative Offices

Below is a picture of the New Shop. Administration Offices and Shop.


50 Ton Capacity
Lever Weighing System Below Platform
Remote Monitoring from Administration Office

Below is a picture of the truck scales.


1,000 Gallon Waste Oil Collection System
Empty Container Storage
Spill Containment Sump

Below is a picture of the waste oil facility.
Waste Oil


Salt Storage for 5,000 Tons of Salt
Shared facility with WisDOT
30' Doors allow Trucks to unload inside building
Lean-to canopy for Summer storage of Sand Spreaders

Below is a picture of the Salt Shed.
Salt Shed


Two 8,000 Gallon diesel fuel tanks
One 1,000 Gallon unleaded fuel tank
Self contained design with spill sump
Designed for future monitoring from Administration office

Below is a picture of the Fuel Facility.
Fuel Pumps


Tire Storage
Sign Shop
Master Plan for future growth

Below is a picture of the Storage Shed and Sign Shop.

Do you have a question about the Highway Shop Building & Grounds?

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