The Henry City Bridge

Taken From the Henry Republican, Henry, Illinois
September 2, 1869


The construction of a carriage bridge at Henry is destined to be a reality, and a fact. The necessary means and appliances to that end have been made step by step and the work had reached that stage of progress, that the town and city have voted stock to the amount of $57,000, the bonds already negotiated at a high figure, the contract for building the bridge let, and the time of completing it to be some time in 1870. These facts are inspiring as they are gratifying, and the future is indicated by a public ..?.. and accomplishment of results and must invariably achieve a prestige and substantial return to our town and county.

The first steps towards the bridge enterprise was the obtaining of a charter from the legislature of the state for authority to build a bridge as far back as February 17, 1857.  The incorporators of the company embraced some of our best and wealthiest citizens, whose names were Russell E. Heacock, Frederick Loyd(?), Jesse L. Jones, John A. Warren, Abner Camp, C. L. Baker, Valentine Wies, Robert Dawson, and Michael Kleinhenz. A board of directors was then formed, and its first officers were C. M. Baker as president, J. L. Jones secretary and Samuel Camp treasurer. In 1859 the company located the road on the Johune(?) Foster line across the bottom opposite this city and the survey was made by that efficient engineer, W. G. Wheaton. Then followed the construction of the turnpike by Messrs. Reynolds, Saulspaugh & Co., which was constructed about that time and which has proved to be so useful and advantageous to the city and the travel generally. Then came the purchase and lease of the (f...?) to the Henry City Bridge company, and the entire control of transit across the river through the supervision of the company and the leases.

For several years the effort towards a bridge looked stupendous though not insurmountable. The company were sanguine that their endeavors would ultimately be crowned with success, and they spared no exertion and were untiring in that direction.  They were composed of practical and business men, who know full well that success lay in perseverance, and steps were made slowly but surely from year to year. They at all times kept the bridge enterprise prominently before the public, and they educated the public mind to believe it could be done, and that it would be. They asked aid of the town and city, and in public meeting and through the local papers explained the history and ..?...

What had been done, had been well done, and the action of the company, gained them universal confidence. The people said: “Your company are composed of our own people; you have built us a turnpike that has been a great blessing to us; you have also labored for the best interests of the town; we believe you mean to do right by us, and we are willing (almost) to a man to aid you and will vote to be taxed for it.” And so an election was called, the town voting $20,000 stock and the city $(1?)7,000, the latter having a second election with an increase of $7,000 on first vote, the result bearing the same unanimity and confidence that the bridge would be built. This year matters assume tangible shape. The bridge bonds have been negotiated at a high figure, and the bonds transferred on Tuesday. The contract for construction has also been entered into, and the bridge is to be completed some time the coming year.

The contractors are Messrs., Boyington & Rust of Chicago who have the superstruction under contract, and a Mr. Bruce of Marseilles who furnishes the stone and performs the masonry of the piers and abutments. Messrs., Boyington, Rust & Bruce are large contractors, and have been very successful in constructing railway and carriage bridges throughout the country. They have now the following bridges in progress: The bridge at Peru, across the Illinois and also one at Havana, and across the Fox river, at Dundee.  They have also railway bridges under construction at St. Louis for the St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute road; the Iowa Falls & Sioux City road, Des Moines river bridge, Soldiers’ Creek bridge for St. Louis, Jacksonville & Chicago road, Missouri Valley road and all the bridges on the Peoria & Rock Island road. All of their work has given satisfaction and are wide and popularly known as amount the best bridge building the country over.

The bridge at this point is to be of the How combination metal - wood and iron. It will consist of four spans of 150 feet each, with a draw near the Henry shore of 200 feet in length, and running on 24 wheels. The width of the bridge will be 18 feet, with wagon road, the traveling public to observe in going upon it the ?ntailing etiquette - “turn to the right.” the length of the bridge will be 100 feet, and will be located from the lost(?) of School street connecting with the turnpike opposite. The contract is let for the sum of $65,000. The bridge is to be finished in good style, painted throughout and warranted in every part. The work is to be commenced at once, and completed at the earliest practicable moment, which will probably be some time in the latter part of next year.

The present officers of the company are Alex. Hoagland president, F. S. Becker secretary and treasurer, and J. H. Jones, J. A. Warren, Lewis Kaufman, George Scott, W. W. Heath, C. M. Baker, Valentine Wies and A. E. Noe are its directors for the current year. All are assiduously interested in the progress of the bridge, and much credit is due them for the zeal and progress they have made in this laudable work. By another year the bridge will be built, and our commercial advantages will be amount the best of the towns along the river.


The Bridge

Taken From the Henry Republican
November 3, 1870

The prosecution of the work on the bridge across the Illinois river at this point, is now being pushed, and every blow seems to tell: The draw is completed and has given (..?...) spare time, opening with ease to the many steamboats that have commenced navigating the head waters of the Illinois since the late rise. The length of the draw is 290 feet, which is built compactly of iron and wood, turning on the pier in the form of a turn table, the ends of the draw resting when open, upon a trussel work built for the purpose on the upper and lower sides of the pier. The draw forms the second span from the west side, and being completed, some idea of the magnitude of the enterprise the company are achieving can be formed.

The other spans are fast being made. The first span on the west side is put together and awaits the floor and some other additions to complete it. The center span is now under construction, and is far advanced, when will follow the two other ones. The trussel work forming the eastern approach to the bridge is also under contract and construction, and the carpenters of this city are busily engaged in erecting it. On the west side the approach is made by, a filling in of dirt and wood, which also is nearly completed. The spawn of the bridge are 150 feet each, giving the length of the bridge proper, including the draw, as 740 feet; the approaches will equal about 1000 feet more, and with the bridge constructed opposite the city "some years ago of 590 feet in length, the entire bridge with approaches will be about 2240 feet. The cost of the bridge will be about $65,000, and the entire work about $80,000.

The contractors Messrs. Boyington, Rust & Bruce are doing the work to the satisfaction of the company and to the credit of themselves. The material is mortised, holes bored for pins, painted, and ready, so that when set in place completes so far the bridge. This is true both of the iron and wood work. The company expect the bridge will be in readiness for crossing by January 1, 1871.

The nulications are flattering that we shall have one of the handsomest constructed bridges in the state. We believe it will "draw" from the entire side, and that our mart of trade will be greatly benefited by the new approach to town. Henry will always be a center of a large trade, and that every effort is being made to improve its advantages by our people is evidence that it will continue to proper (prosper), and be one of the main points on the river and in the state.


The Bridge Celebration

Taken From the Henry Republican
December 8, 1870

A day of General Rejoicing - Over 3000 People Present - Ringing of Bells, Firing of Cannon, Procession, Speeches, Etc.

Saturday last, December 3d, was observed by the people of Henry and its vicinity, a day of as general and hearty rejoicing, in commemoration of the completion of its pet enterprise - the Henry Bridge - costing $80,000, and pronounced the finest structure spanning the placid waters of the Illinois river. It is a masterpiece of elegance, massive in its strength, admirable in its appointments and appearance, and pregnant with utility and comfort for all time to come to city, county and state.

One week’s notice only was given for the formal opening of the bridge, yet at an early hour on Saturday morning the people began to flock into town from all directions, so rapidly had the announcement got abroad. During the forenoon both entrances to the bridge had been appropriately festooned with our country’s noble colors and evergreens, with the motto "WELCOME" interwoven in the east, and "HAPPY DAY" in the west one, producing a fine effect.

At one o’clock the blasts from steam whistles, the ringing of church bells and the firing of cannon announced the hour for the assembling of the people, when with remarkable alacrity the procession formed on Third street, under the charge of the chief marshal, I. P. Bush, Esq., and his assistant, Mr. C. Gould, in the following order, to wit:

Henry Brass Band - 10 pieces

Mayor, City Council, Town officers

Distinguished speaker, invited guest, and prominent citizens

Officers and directors of Bridge Co.

Lodge of Masons in regalia

Lodge of Odd Fellows in regalia

Encampment members in regalia

Protection Fire Company in full uniform, and fire engine decked with flags

Hose Company in uniform, and with carriage ornamented with flags

Teachers and children of Public school - about 400

Children of German school - about 150

Carriages, wagons, etc.

The procession which was very long, marched from Third street to Edwards, down Edwards to Front, east on Front to School, and so across the new bridge on one side and back on the other, to the location selected for the speaking, where all gathered in convenient distance to hear, near the lock and dam office.

In the absence of T. L. Davis, Esq., the president of the day, D. W. Danley, Esq., was chosen to preside, who called the multitude to order and introduced the orator of the occasion, Hon. P. S. Perley, who addressed the large concourse of people as follows:

Ladies and gentlemen: We are met here to charivarl, in decency and daylight, the wedding of these shores; - and what man has joined together, let not God in his providence, by lightning nor tempest, by wind nor wave, by fire nor flood, put asunder.

Beat the drum and slash the cymbals,

Let the bugle shake the aire,

With its wild, triumphant music,

Worthy of the wedded pair

The license was long since issued, the banns have long been published, and, betrothed from their birth, bathing in the same stream, sleeping in the same bed, it is high time they were married, and we clap glad hands that they are linked indissolubly at last. A silken tie will bind willing hearts, but for two such coves as these, it takes something stronger. They freeze together, but they thaw apart, and in mosquito time it takes all the strength of wood and stone and iron to hold them together.

There are some emotious that trill to the very depths of the soul, and one of those to day stirs every heart, making us feel that we are all linked together by a closer and more enduring tie than ever before. We have overcome one obstacle that lay in our way to a freer intercourse and a fuller life, and there is no satisfaction more sweet than the consciousness of difficulty vanquished, of chasms spanned, of dams built, of waters bridged, of human power asserted over the blind forced of nature. There is no reflection more delightful than that of handing down a happier and a better world to our children and our children’s children, and that reflection we will indulge to-day. We have hardly thought of it before. Our hands have been busy with the work. Our brains have been bothered about the ways and means, but now our hearts rejoice at the accomplished fact.

We have thought only of ourselves, of this wicked generation of which we are a part; of a bridge for our own use for getting across the river easier and quicker - over in the morning with an earlier load of wood, back in the evening with a later drink of beer. The thought of their sons who shall inherit them may have occurred to some, but not a thought of grandchildren has been framed into this structure. We did not think when we laid those piers and raised that super-structure, as Ruskin says, every man should when he builds, that we built forever, but we done it nevertheless. We have builded forever. As so many men have done before us, we have builded better than we knew. Our motives were worthier than we wot of, and to-day we feel that, unconsciously to ourselves; we have been moved by more unselfish impulses than we supposed, and have wrought for those who shall come after us, as well as for ourselves, and it is pleasant now, if never before, to be conscious of the fact, that the time will come when these stones will be held sacred, because our hands have touched them; when these timbers will be held dear because our feet have trod them; that the time is coming when our children will rise up and bless us for this bridge - if not us, our names and memories when we are gone across the bridgeless river, and the names of these directors - Hoagland, Becker, Potter, Baker, Warren, Jones, Everett, Heath, Kaufman and Weis - who have put so much of the best labor of their best years into the construction of this great work, will live in our local annals when these wood work shall have decayed, and when those iron letters, which look so enduring shall been (...?....)


Graveling the Turnpike

Taken From the Henry Republican
January 31, 1878

The turnpike opposite this city, is now being covered with gravel some 15 inches deep, and a large force of bands and teams are engaged in the work. The turnpike is 220 rods long, and over 1000 yards of gravel will be required to complete it. The road committee of the bridge company, Messrs. Hutchins and Yaeger, are devoting a good deal of time in overseeing the job, and they hope to have it accomplished this week. The gravel comes from Mr. Yaeger's bank east of town, and is hauled over the bridge to the place of deposit, a sufficient number of teams being engaged to make the work go lively.


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