Florence Bridge

Between Pike County and Scott County

EKKP Stamp Back (1904-1950)
dated from the sender Aug 1936
Contributed by Carmen Megehe

Quincy Herald Whig March 19, 1930
Contributed by Margaret Rutledge
Approximately 10,000 persons from western Illinois witnessed the formal opening of the Illinois river bridge at Florence yesterday. Gov. J. I. Emmerson cut the ribbon across the center of the bridge while Sergeant Simpson of the state highway police department is announcing that the bridge is formally opened for public use. Crowds packed the bridge to witness the formal opening. An even larger crowd was on the west end of the bridge. The bridge was packed from end to end of its 2,000 feet.

Barry Adage June 21, 1930
Delegation of Some 500 From This City Assist In The EVENT
Contributed by Margaret Rutledge

A host of Pike county citizens indulged in a holiday last Monday when they united with the citizens of Scott county and other sections of Illinois and Missouri in celebrating the opening for motor traffic of the Florence highway bridge. The day opened with lowering weather and light showers fell, but by noon the clouds had cleared away and the afternoon was all that could be desired. A crowd of several thousand was present and almost every section of this county was represented. Barry and vicinity sent about five hundred persons. The Chamber of Commerce delegation was one hundred and sixty strong and made a good showing with their badges and decorated autos. The high school band led the procession and attracted much attention both on the way over and on the scene of the exercises. They took part in the program and received compliments for the fine appearance of the young people as well as the quality of the music. Two other bands were present - War Veterans band from the state hospital at Jacksonville, and the Perry, Ill. band. In the gathering were many prominent men in highway and bridge building affairs, several of whom were connected with the promotion and building of the now famous bridge, and others who were attracted to it through personal and other interests.

Hundreds Viewed the Bridge
The bridge was viewed and inspected by the hundreds there both before and after the exercises, and upon the arrival of the Governor's party at 2:00 p. m. the lift section was raised and lowered to show how it was operated. The machinery was in the best of order and the movement was a perfect success. While many citizens of this county and surrounding territory had witnessed the work of erecting the structure as it progressed, scores of others had never seen it before. All pronounced it a beautiful and substantial bridge and were delighted that the day of deliverance from the transportation handicap the county had been subjected to was at an end.

Largest Bridge Spanning Illinois River
The Florence bridge is the largest of the several bridges that span the Illinois river. It is 3180 feet long and required approximately 2600 tons of steel and a total of 8440 cubic yards of cement to build. The total cost was $681,391. The bridge was started in July 1927, but there were delays from high water and other sources until its completion this spring. Its strength and stability were thoroughly tested by the surging crowds last Monday. Twenty patrolmen from this and other sections of the state highway system handled the crowds and looked after the hundreds of autos to prevent mixups and congestion. Everything went along in good order. Not an accident occurred nor anything that would disturb the gathering. The perfection of the arrangements was a subject of favorable comment on all sides. The celebration was not intended for a big demonstration but a simple and impressive reminder of what had been accomplished.

Dedication on Lift Span
When Gov. L. L. Emmerson and party, consisting of Director Cleveland, Chief Engineer Frank Sheets and other highway officials, arrived at the east of the bridge they were conducted across the full length of the structure and back to the platform in the center of the lift section, where the dedicatory ceremony took place. No other autos were permitted to cross up to that time. The Jacksonville banc and a quartet of patrolmen led the official party. Assembled about the platform where the exercises opened were the Jacksonville and Barry bands and the official guests from several cities and towns of Illinois. Hannibal and Louisiana, Mo., were also represented. The afternoon program opened with selections by the two bands and a cornet solo, "Illinois", by C. J. Lorch, Director Cleveland made the opening speck which largely consisted of an historical review of the bridge affairs from start to finish, with the financial statistics, etc. he was followed by Gov. Emmerson, in a more extended address. He spoke for about thirty minutes on the urgency of the bridge, its inception, the fulfillment of the undertaking and what a vast improvement it meant to Pike county and transportation interests generally, dwelling on the fact that our county is in many respects an outstanding one in the state and that its prospects had been greatly retarded by its lack of highway communication with the rest of the country. The new bridge transforms the situation. He spoke very highly of the citizenship and enterprise displayed in the county affairs. He was in good voice and his words were plainly heard by the large crowd, amplifiers carrying his voice to those not near enough to hear him otherwise. He expressed himself as greatly pleased with the day's reception.

Will Fill Long Felt Want.
The opening of the bridge was certainly a pronounced success. That it will fill a long felt want is certain. It provides the connecting link in the great National Route 36, which is as direct as may be between New York City and Los Angeles, Calif.

The "Day of Days"
"By thy rivers gently flowing, Illinois"

No more appropriate solo could have been chosen by the cornetist at the Florence bridge dedication Monday than "Illinois". One of her rivers flows as gently as ever but it is spanned by two state built bridges already and a third is under contract. These bridges consume enormous sums of the state road money but they are as necessary as the roads themselves. It was Director Cleaveland who made the statement that the material that went into the Florence bridge, loaded onto freight cars, would make a train five miles long. The joy of seeing the Florence bridge completed was not dimmed by the thought of how long it had taken to complete the structure. The dedication Monday was a thanksgiving for Western Illinois.

A stretch of over 1200 foot concrete approach on the Scott county side, now complete with the exception of side railing. Pouring concrete on the extreme east end of the approach on the Scott county side. This paving work was completed last week. There are 27 spans in the long approach on the Scott county side of the river. Contractors say the bridge will be completed by June 1929. The ferry at Florence which will be put out of business when the bridge is opened for traffic next summer. It has a capacity of 16 cars, and is propelled by a small gasoline launch.