The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 18, 2013

History of bridges outlined in program Sunday at Martin House


Special to the Herald

FULTON, Ill. — The history, construction and replacement of bridges in and near Fulton will be presented at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Martin House Museum, 707 10th Ave.  

A Powerpoint presentation will feature three bridge sites times two as each site has had two bridges constructed on them. In the future, a third railroad bridge will be erected replacing the current one built in 1909 and claimed when it was built to “last as long at the pyramids.”

The six bridges include: The First Railroad bridge, 1860-1909; the Second Railroad bridge, 1909 to present, including drawings of the proposed new third railroad bridge; the Lyons-Fulton High bridge, 1891-1975; the Mark N. Morris bridge, 1975 to present; the Clinton-Illinois bridge, 1892 to 1954; and the Gateway bridge, 1956 to present.

The Lyons-Fulton High bridge became well-known nationally as the Lincoln Highway Bridge. It continued to be part of the transcontinental highway system for many years as U.S. 30. This bridge was considered the most impressive structure on the Mississippi River when it was constructed. It was replaced in 1975 with the Mark N. Morris memorial bridge and is commonly referred to as the north bridge.

The Clinton-Illinois bridge was often called the wagon bridge. It also was a high one, but did not have the word in its official title like the Lyons-Fulton High bridge.  The wagon bridge is remembered because of its sharp turns, wooden-plank floor and elevation. On July 3, 1904, two spans, one 150 feet and one 210 feet, were blown down in a wind storm. The Sweet brothers, Sam and Clarence, from Garden Plain, Ill., rode across both the old and new bridges on opening day, Sept. 11, 1892, and June 30, 1956.

The first railroad bridge, constructed in 1860, didn’t go all the way across the Mississippi River. It ended at Little Rock Island and cargo, passengers and the train cars were moved to the Iowa shore by a steamboat/barge named the Commodore. The western span was completed in 1865. That single track was replaced with a double track bridge in 1909.

Pictures from the Fulton museum photo archive collection will be included along with photos from other sources. Personal stories and memories are welcome. Refreshments will be served. The museum is handicap accessible.