Tayco Street Bridge Tower Museum packs big history in a small space

Tayco Bridge Museum

MENASHA - A small piece of Menasha's history on the Fox River has reopened to the public. FOX 11 got a look inside the the Tayco Street Bridge Tower Museum.

"This is probably the smallest museum in the state," said Menasha Mayor Don Merkes.

For such a small space, the Tayco Street Bridge Tower Museum packs a big historical punch.

The building is one of four bridge towers built in 1929. In 1989 the bridge collapsed. No one was hurt, but the bridge needed to be remodeled.

"We saved three of the four towers and created this little museum," explained Merkes.

That was in 1993.

The museum was closed for the last three years for cleaning and renovations. It opened again Monday to show the impact of the water on the city's development.

"They floated logs down the river, the paper mills were here, just how important this was to the history of Menasha and the water power and what that did for Menasha and the whole Fox River Valley," Merkes explained.

A big exhibit in the museum is an original bridge control panel where you can push buttons, flip switches, see what it was like to be a bridge tender.

"Kids just love it. They play with all the handles and look out the window," said Nancy Barker who was the first female bridge tender on the Fox River.

During the 70s and 80s she lifted the bridge for boats and once a week she crawled under it to grease the machinery.

"They were shocked that a woman would crawl under the bridge and grease it and I said, 'hey, I grew up on a farm, I can grease anything you got!" exclaimed Barker, laughing.

Barker played a big part in saving the three towers and creating this museum.

"There were a lot of people that worked on this, but I just thought of this as my baby. So I think it's a wonderful thing," she said adding she hopes visitors think so too.

The museum is open daily May through October. You can visit any time during navigation hours, about seven in the morning until nine at night.