This aluminum token was good for one crossing of the joint
railroad / highway bridge in Sturgeon Bay.
The toll bridge across the Sturgeon Bay ship canal was built in 1886 for
horse-drawn wagons. It was strengthened to carry both railroad and vehicle
traffic when the Ahnapee & Western was
completed to Sturgeon Bay in 1894. For decades, the bridge carried both
automobiles and trains, and was the only crossing of the ship canal into
northern Door County.
The bridge was privately owned from its construction until 1911. John Leathem,
Tom Smith (father of Leathem Smith who established a large shipyard in Sturgeon
Bay), and Rufus Kellogg (on the Green Bay &
Minnesota RR Board of Directors 1876-1888) organized the bridge company
and received a 25-year charter to own and operate the bridge in 1886. The bridge
opened in June 1887, and at the end of the charter in 1911 the bridge reverted to
municipal ownership; the city of Sturgeon Bay then operated it using tolls until a
new highway bridge was built in 1931.
The token to the right was used to
pay the fare. After a new highway bridge on Michigan Street opened in
1931, Sturgeon Bay sold the old swing bridge to the Ahnapee & Western for
$1.00, who then owned and operated it until July 1966, when the railroad sold
the bridge back to the city for $1.00.
The railroad was threatening to abandon service to the east side of the city
because of the bridge's condition. The city of Sturgeon Bay and the
railroad tried to get funding for a replacement railroad/highway bridge but were
unsuccessful... the bridge was ordered closed in May 1968 and the A&W filed
to abandon their line from Algoma to Sturgeon Bay later that same month.