Towns like Boscobel developed along the Lower Wisconsin River as a result of the confluence of transportation networks.
[map of stagecoach routes between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River]
In the 1830s and 1840s, lead mining in southwestern Wisconsin peaked. Mining companies used the Wisconsin River to ship lead to the Atlantic coast via the Great Lakes and To St. Louis on the Mississippi River. When lead prices fell in 1847, river commerce shifted focus to the lumber industry. Thomas Sanders and Asa Wood first settled Boscobel in 1846 and began cutting and floating logs down the Wisconsin River.
The first successful steamboat trip up the Wisconsin River from the Mississippi River to Portage was in 1834. Boscobel became a stopping point for steamers traveling upriver transporting goods and passengers to Sauk City and Portage.
Some travelers arrived in Boscobel by stagecoach. A system of stagecoach routes linked communities and brought travelers to places like Boscobel, where they continued their travels by other means. In 1849, a ferry service crossing the river near Boscobel was established. The ferry ran until the construction of the first bridge in 1874.
In 1857, 192 miles of railroad track opened, following the Lower Wisconsin River valley for much of its length. The tracks started at Madison, crossed the river at Spring Green, Lone Rock, and Woodman, and ended at Prairie du Chien.