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Wagon Bridge at Clinton, Compares to Keokuk 1882


Posted By: cheryl moonen (email)
Date: 4/19/2017 at 12:45:02

The Clinton Age, Clinton, Iowa, February 3, 1882

A Wagon Bridge

We feel that one more effort ought to be made towards building a wagon bridge across the Mississippi River at this point.

Because the efforts made heretofore, have failed, and no reason why another should not be made to build.

Valuable and important experience without much expense has been gained by those active in a bridge project. The experience will all come in good play when the scheme is revived. The question is should it be revived?

We believe the time is opportune for re-opening such an enterprise. Time has demonstrated the fact that a wagon bridge is needed and will pay. The feeling in the city is, favorable to another effort.

In the outset there need not necessarily be a chartered organization. A charter from Congress in constructing a pontoon at this place is in existence. There are plans and specifications in this city, for such a bridge. What it needs is to ascertain whether sufficient means can be obtained to build the bridge. This information can be had by preparing an informal document, briefly setting forth the contemplated enterprise, and procuring the sentiments of the people in relation hereto. Such a document can be drawn, which when signed, will give the information as to whether the necessary money can be had with which to build the bridge.

The charter would probably require a structure which should accommodate any railroad desiring to cross the bridge. This can be done with the amount here named, except the laying of the rails, which could be laid whenever any railroad is ready to contract for the crossing of its cars, which additional costs could be readily procured in case any railroad would agree to use the bridge.

We presume that some, such a structure as that at Keokuk, changing to a pontoon, would be considered the best plan. There the railroad track is in the centre, and each side is planked for wagons. Teams can cross in both directions at once, and not occupy any part of the railroad track. The distance from one gate to another is 3,800 feet. Everything connected with the occupancy of the bridge by trains and teams is so systematized that one never interferes with or discommodes the other. Teams and trains pass over at the same time. Teams may follow directly in behind trains, and the only delay at any time is occasioned by teams desiring to in one direction waiting a few moments for a train going in an opposite direction.

We understand that the first year the Keokuk Bridge was operated from the earnings of wagon and other than railroad business was about $10,000.

The increase has been gradual reaching last year’s not far from $22,000-not including the course, the receipts from the transfer of cars.

The total expense from operating the Keokuk Bridge is covered by $100 per month, including about $175 per month for the extra cost occasioned by using the bridge for wagon purposes. The rate of toll each way is as follows:
25 cents for team of two horses
20 cents for horse and buggy
15 cents for horse and rider
10 cents each for cattle, mules and led horses
5 cents each for sheep, hogs, etc.
5 cents each for foot passengers

Clinton is better situated to draw wagon trade from Illinois than Keokuk is. In the first place there is the town of Hamilton, at the east end of the bridge, with 800 inhabitants, doing quite a flourishing mercantile trade. Then down the river about five, miles on the same side, is the city of Warsaw, with six or seven thousand inhabitants, also, being the terminus of the old Toledo, Peoria & Warsaw Road, now a part of the Wabash system-furnishing the business of the city a short line to the scaboard and convenient to Peoria, one of the best grain markets in the west. Then 12 miles from the river is the town of Carthage, with a population of 3,000, and doing a thriving business. Up the river on the same side, 10 miles from Keokuk id Nauvoo, quite a stirring place of 1,000 inhabitants. So it will be seen that Keokuk has more competitors for the Illinois trade than Clinton would have. Besides the farming country in Illinois tributary to Keokuk, is not as well cultivated or occupied by as wealthy farmers, as that which the pontoon would make tributary to this city. The mill wood business, alone, of which Keokuk does not possess more than a local supply, would be quite an item of income for the bridge tolls.

We understand very well that it is easy to put figures on paper, but who will say that such a bridge ought not for 10 months in the year to bring in twenty-five dollars per day. This would be only about one-third the wagon receipts of the Keokuk Bridge and $2,500 less than the receipts the first year of the bridge. The total receipts for 10 months would be $7,500.

The expense for operating the bridge for wagon purposes would be say $175 per month or $ 1,750 per year. The interest at 7 per cent, on $80,000, or a total annual cost of 47,350.00.

But suppose no interest was paid on $30,000 cash subscription to stock? Would it not be a good investment even then? Could not the business men of this city afford to donate outright $30,000 to a bridge that would earn $20 per day in tolls at the rate fixed by the Keokuk Bridge? Of course it is but guess work, yet we think the data we have given is sufficient to satisfy our people that the subscription would not be a donation, but as paying investment. Then add a reasonable assurance that the bridge once built would be used to a certain extent by at least one railroad, and we have a pretty sure thing of the investment be a paying one.


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