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Eli Cox - Bridge Builder (1914)


Posted By: Kent Transier (email)
Date: 5/10/2011 at 18:14:18

Eli Cox - Bridge Builder

(Article submitted for posting by Kory Darnall)

Winterset News
September 2, 1914

The Cox bridge in Union Township, Madison County, Iowa, marks one of the oldest crossings of North River, Whether a bridge was thrown across the stream before 1868 we do not know but that year Eli Cox, whose homestead was just south of the crossing, contracted with the county to build a bridge. The structure was entirely made of wood but when it was taken down last year to be replaced by the modern steel bridge, the timbers were found to be in a splendid state of preservation.

Eli Cox and his sons George, John, and Alfred built Madison County quite a number of wooden and wooden covered bridges. They sawed the lumber at their own mill and built the frame works of solid oak. The piers were built of stone quarried near the bridge sites, making them entirely a home-made structure. Even the mortar used in building the piers was Madison County's own product, the sand being hauled from the creeks and the lime burnt in our own kilns. Eli Cox commenced to build bridges in 1864, his first bridge being the one over the North River on the De Soto road near the Jonathan Cox farm. All his first bridges were the uncovered kind because the board of supervisors of that day had too many bridges to build and they could not afford the extra cost.

One of the first covered bridges that Eli Cox built was the Donahoe bridge over the North River near the eastern line of Madison County. It stands there today, a testimony to his honest workmanship. The cover protected the timbers and prevented the rain from getting into the joints and around the nails and bolts. When the Cox covered bridge was taken down last year the timbers were found to be in a good state of preservation.

Bridging the streams of Madison County has been an expensive proposition. The bridge fund has always been expended to the penny: North Branch, North River, middle River, Jones Creek, Clanton Creek, South River, Grand River and their tributaries have many crossings. In the old days a man was content to get across the rivers on any kind of a bridge. The steam threshing outfits now demand a heavy bridge and a man in his heavy motor car hits a county bridge full tilt at forty miles per hour and swears if it gives him a bump or he can feel the slightest tremor.

The new steel Cox bridge cost $8,024.00. It has a span of 96 feet. Madison County engineer Hiatt said steel is now 20% cheaper that when the first Cox bridge was built.

Coordinator's note: Transcribed and edited for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.


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