The Miller County Autogram
Tuscumbia, Missouri, Thursday, November 2, 1933

The bridge celebration began Saturday at 11 a.m. with a parade which started at the public school building on the hill. The Band of 35 led in the parade through town to the bridge. The Band was composed of members of the Eldon and Tuscumbia organizations, about equally divided in numbers, plus three members of the California Band. Sumpter Gunn is leader of the Eldon Band and T.C. Wright of the Tuscumbia Band. Ward Kelsay of Eldon served as drum major. This is the largest Band composed of local talent to ever assemble in Miller County, and the Tuscumbia Band wishes to express its appreciation for the wonderful cooperation and assistance given by the Eldon and California boys. Many compliments were heard on the performance of the combined Band. The Eldon boys were dressed in their natty powder blue uniforms and the Tuscumbia boys were "dolled up" in new white suits and new caps.

 Tuscumbia's New Bridge
Tuscumbia's New Bridge

The new bridge is 1080 feet long; the main span over the river is 400 feet, supported by 3 piers. The highest on the southside is 120 feet from bedrock to the top of the cap. Shortly after this bridge was dedicated, the old toll bridge (seen at the right) was torn down. It sat just a short distance downriver from the present bridge.

As the Band neared the bridge it was observed that a car bearing Missouri license No. 1 was following closely. One of the occupants was our honored Governor, Hon. Guy B. Park, who had not been expected before 12 o'clock, but he arrived in time for all the festivities.

It had been arranged for Mr. T. H. Irwin of the State Highway Department to "officially" open the new bridge for traffic, but through a misunderstanding of the hour, he was late in arriving. However, his brother, Hon. W.C. Irwin, who had no little hand in bringing the question of the Department's right to build a bridge over a navigable stream, before the Supreme Court, was present and substituted for his brother.

Mr. Irwin recalled the progress which had been made in the mode of transportation across the Osage River here; how that the crude flatboat was first, then the ferry boat, and then the suspension bridge, which was , when built in 1905, the only bridge for public traffic between Warsaw on the Osage and the mouth of the Missouri River.

He told of the part that Mr. C.O. Short, in 1921, as representative, secured the designation of routes 17 and 52 to Tuscumbia and how that later, Mr. Fred Spearman, who was then serving in a like capacity, assisted in having the second bond issue measure so drawn up that there would be no restrictions placed on the Department for building bridges over navigable streams.

Mr. Irwin stated that the Commission had been friendly to the question of a bridge here, but that it only wished to determine its right to proceed, since there had been the question as to whether or not the Department could, even after the passage of the new bond issue, build a bridge over a navigable stream with State money.

In order to determine this matter, the county court of Miller County employed Mr. Irwin to institute proceedings that would bring a decision from the Supreme Court. Mr. Irwin, in his talk recited these facts, how the Court finally handed down a unanimous opinion that the Department could expend State funds for the bridge. Immediately after this decision was handed down, Chief Engineer T.H. Cutler proceeded with the letting of the contract.

In the dedication of the new bridge, Mr. Irwin said the structure symbolizes the very latest construction, reminding that the Missouri State Highway Department kept abreast of the times in this field, and that this was the latest bridge to be added to our State system.

The people of this county as well as all those throughout the State who have occasion to cross the bridge appreciate the cooperation and interest shown by Mr. Cutler, members of the Commission and employees of the Department.

The story of the bridge dedication would not be complete if mention were not made of one of our most honored pioneers, John Ferguson. After Mr. Irwin had finished speaking he called the attention to the fact that Squire Ferguson "95 years young," was present and would speak for himself; and he did. He recited how he crossed the Osage River when he first came to Miller County on a flat-boat manned by two men with oars and a third man at the stern of the boat wielding an oar as a rudder; and how that the boat was pulled up some distance above the landing in order to make the landing on the opposite side, since the current would carry the boat downstream while crossing.

He told the story of how he and Charlie Myers came to town way back in the days of the ferry boat to serve in circuit court as jurors. When they reached the south bank of the river they called for the ferryman to come over after them. They failed to respond for sometime, and when they arrived in the courtroom late the august Judge proceeded to fine each of them $5.00. However, they explained why they were late and he called for the two ferrymen. They made their appearance and after hearing their story he remitted the fines of the two jurors and assessed each one of the dilatory ferrymen with a fine of $10.00.

Squire Ferguson expressed his delight in being present at the dedication of the new bridge, he having lived to see the complete transition from flat-boat ferry to cable ferry, and from suspension bridge to a modern bridge of all steel and concrete.

Following the governor's speech were a number of very excellent addresses. Congressman Ralph F. Lozier told of the problems and accomplishments of the Congress; Mr. Wm. L. Nelson, former Congressman, delivered an inspiring address, his subject being "The Bridge;" Hon. Willis H. Meredith, Speaker of the House of Representatives, made a brief talk, asking the cooperation of the people during the present session of the Legislature and pledging himself to assist in the passage of wholesome legislation; Mr. W.W. Gibbany, statistician of the State Department of Education, speaking for the State Chamber of Commerce, urged the people of Missouri to use more of its own products from farms, mines and mills; Mr. Gerard Schultz, professor of history and German, Iberia Junior College, and compiler of the latest History of Miller County, gave an interesting talk on the subject, "The Development of Transportation in Miller County;" Robert Kallenbach, of Tuscumbia, M. U. Student, appeared to discuss the subject of "Missouri's Resources and Their Relationship to Miller County." Mr. Joe C. Stites, our representative, made a brief talk and also introduced Mr. Meredith, Speaker of the House and others.


The Bible relates the story of how the Lord fed the five thousand people with five loaves of bread and three small fishes, but the committee in charge of the big barbecue held here Saturday had difficulty in feeding that many people with 3,000 pounds of beef, pork and mutton, and three hundred loaves of bread. That was the bill of fare prepared for the occasion, and then many failed to get a taste of barbecue meet owing to the press of the crowd.

The barbecuing was I charge of Mr. D.C. McClung, former Collector of Cole County and warden of the State penitentiary. He has had forty years' experience in barbecuing meat, and he is therefore an adept at this. He had four colored assistants from Jefferson City with him and also had local help. The digging of the trenches for the firing was quite a job as well as the preparation of the meat on the rods for suspending over the embers.

The meat barbecued consisted of 59 lambs, 800 pounds of beef and 500 pounds of pork spareribs. One beef, a prime, fat yearling, was donated by our County Collector W. C. Brumley. He and Sheriff Lafe King butchered the yearling Friday evening and brought it over to augment the supply of meat, and it aided materially in satisfying the hungry. The Jefferson City Baking Co. contributed 50 loaves of bread free, and the H.D. Lee Mercantile Co., through the local dealer, Hauenstein's Store, contributed H.G.F. coffee free. Walker & Weeks and Blue Grass Valley dairies contributed cream.

On behalf of the county court and the committee in charge of the arrangements for the celebration we wish to thank all those who contributed. Mr. McClung is one of these, for he refused to accept pay for his services, giving three days of his time free of charge, besides the use of some of his equipment.

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