Dedicated Lyons and Fulton High Bridge is a Reality

From: The Clinton Daily Herald; Sunday, July 6, 1891, P. 7
Transcribed by a Clinton County IaGenWeb volunteer.

Construction Gloriously Celebrated in Conjunction With the Nation’s Birthday.

Fourth of July, 1891, dawned unfavorably, only though as the weather was concerned; and skies seemed to join in with radiant thoughts of the day; gradually the sun crept out, and it became clearer and clearer. No cloud was seen to the depths of the azure blue, not a single star from sight.

It will long be remembered by the citizen of Lyons. Not only the fourth of July which they celebrate, but also, with that, ovation of the Lyons and Fulton bridge, one of the grandest bridges which spans the Mississippi River.

The work of construction had rushed rapidly forward that the great events might be joined into a grand celebration; and this was finished, with a success that was apparent to everyone able to be present.

Early in the morning, almost before dawn, the people began to arrive from the east, from the west, the south; by rail and by water; any conveyance whatever, the chief meaning to get there. Second Street Clinton to Lyons was already a line of people; over 800 arrived on the Midland, a contingent came from Mendota, boats arrived from LeClaire - several loads – and a large delegation from Savanna; every train and boat brought somebody until there were present in the city about 15,000 people, as near as could be estimated. The grand parade commenced to form at 10 o’clock, and shortly after the hour it started through the principal streets of the city, crossed over the new bridge to Fulton, and returned, after which the cannon fired salute and the line was dispersed to listen to the speeches.

The order of the line was as follows:
Orators of the Day.
Clinton Council.
Fulton Council.
Lyons Council.
1st Regiment, Chicago.
Uniform Rank K. P. Clinton
C. L. Root Drill Corps.
St. Irenaeus Cadets.
Uniformed Canton, Clinton.
Lincoln Lodge I. O. O. F., Clinton
Clinton Cannon.
Danish Brotherhood.
G. A. R., Lyons and Clinton.

Danish Cornet Band.
Danish Lodge.
A. O. U. W.
St. Joseph’s T. A. Society.

Martin Nasal’s Boy Band.
Deutcher Arbeiter.
O. I. H., No. 80.

Lyons Military Band.
Fire Company, No. 2.
Boy Firemen.
Company No. 1.
Company No. 2.
Hook & Ladder, No. 1.
Citizens in Carriages.

After the return a large number gathered on the square to hear the orations. Hon. Walter I. Hayes spoke first, with his usual force and power, dwelling more particularly on the history of the bridge.

We print that part of the oration which pertains to the bridge work done in the legislative halls of our country, in which Judge Hayes took such an active part. And to him is due great thanks of all for his hearty work in this cause.

It may be a matter of interest for me to state some of the history of the legislation required and had as preliminary to the actual building of this structure. I will premise this by stating that the Mississippi, being a great navigable river and artery of commerce, that jurisdiction over it and in all matters affecting its navigation is exclusively vested in the general government of the United States; and that no bridge or other obstruction to its free use in navigation can legally be built or maintained without the authority of Congress, and within the power by it conferred. This being so necessary the steps had to be thus taken; and I want to say here that the gratitude of this people is especially due to Hon. T. J. Henderson, who, as the representative of the people on the opposite shore, was ever alert to their interests; and at all times and places powerfully aided in the consummation of their desires in this regard. Also to Hon. William B. Allison, who had charge of the matter in the Senate; and, as in all matters which interest his people, left no stone unturned. Also to Hon. J. H. Sweeney, of Iowa, and Hon. Chas. F. Crisp, of Georgia, who as members of the committee on commerce in the two congresses in which legislation was required, were ever ready and willing to, and did promptly act and advance its interests.

The bill, by virtue of which this bridge was built and is maintained, is number 12,489 Fiftieth Congress, second session, and was introduced by myself Feb. 2nd, 1889.

It was referred to the committee on commerce immediately, under the rules of the House of Representatives; and on Feb. 9th was referred by this committee to the War Department of the government for its views upon the question of its effect upon the interests of navigation. On Feb. 15th it was favorably reported back by Hon. Wm. C. Endicott, Secretary of War, with some slight amendments suggested by Gen. Thos. Lincoln Casey, Chief of Engineers; and on this report the committee on Feb. 19th, through Hon. Chas. F. Crisp reported favorably to the House of Representatives, adopting the suggestions of Gen. Casey; and it was committed to the whole House on the calendar. On Feb. 20th, the evening of that day having by order of the House been set apart for business, reported by the committee on commerce; and hon. N. H. Hatch having been appointed speaker pro tempore on motion of Mr. Crisp the amendments suggested were adopted and the bill passed the House.

On Feb 22nd it reached the Senate, and was there referred to its committee on commerce; and on Feb. 26th this committee, through Senator Vest of Missouri, reported it favorably, but with some further suggested slight amendments; and it thus went upon the Senate calendar. On Feb. 28th the proposed amendments were adopted by the Senate, and the bill as thus amended, there passed. In this connection and on motion of Mr. Vest it was agreed that the Senate should insist on its amendments and that a committee of conference thereon with the House should be appointed and Senators Vest, Sawyer and Frye were appointed the conferees on the part of the Senate. On March 1st the House, on motion of Mr. Crisp, concurred in the Senate amendments and did away with any necessity for a conference; and it was sent to the committee on enrolled bills for examination and comparison, and on the next day this committee, through Mr. Enloe of Tenn., reported the bill duly enrolled. It was signed by Hon. John G. Carlisle, Speaker of the House, and sent to the President of the United States for his approval. On the next day, being the last day of the Fiftieth Congress of the United States, it was returned to the House bearing the signature of Grover Cleveland, President of the United States, and became a finality as law and is chapter 407 laws Fiftieth Congress, second session.

The signing of this bill was one of the very best official acts of President Cleveland.

After the passage of this law the parties in interest here desired certain amendments before proceeding with work, and the same were sent to me and were introduced in the Senate by Senator Allison on Dec. 17th, 1889, and were also subsequently introduced in the House by myself; this course being taken to expedite its passage.

The matter was again referred to the War Department, and by the Department to Major Alex. MacKenzie, of the corps of engineers at the Rock Island arsenal; and he made an examination and suggested certain amendments which were reported to the Senate by Hon. Redfield Procter, Secretary of War. The same amendments were adopted and the bill as thus amended passed both houses and went to the President, and on March 18th, 1890 was returned to the Senate bearing the signature, made March 15th, of Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States, and became a law and is chapter 32 laws Fifty-first Congress, first session. This completed, with the joint labors of the Representatives of two States, with the Acts of two Congresses and the approval of two Presidents, the legislation that authorized and sustains this work.

It is to be hoped that this work so jointly done by two great States and communities may be a boon of commercial union and result in the mutual advancement and prosperity of both.
Hon. R. G. Cousins came next, the silver tongued orator of the Cedar, as he is generally known. His oration burned with the fire of loyal patriotism, and was one of the ablest ever heard in this part of the country, containing many truths which were presented in most forcible and elegant language. In speaking of the American of to-day he said:
“Most of the American people are looking into the future. Every now and then some man who is watching his cork bob up and down in the waters of speculation gets struck in the back with a locomotive. There are very few wanderers among the tombs, only now and then you see a queer individual hunting for old pieces of china and ancient bric-a-brac. History is quarantined. The typical American has little to do with it, unless in the form of antique oak or oxidized silver. Sixty millions hands are reaching out for the daily paper.”

Continuing as to our future he added:
“And in the coming century there will be much misery, and sometime it will lift up its soul and America shall hear music – such as she has never known before – and then there will be great artists.
“Bye and bye some millionaire, tired of killing pigs and packing pork, will see something beautiful or, maybe, something sand, and he will endow an institution where poverty can come and dream, and mark its pain and thought upon the canvas and the marble.”

This glowing effort closed as follows:
“There has been the age of marble and the age of bronze; ours is the age of iron.

Commerce needs strong arms. It makes them out of steel and iron. It has belted the globe with them. Where it cannot find a place to set its feet, it spans with iron. Commerce will not stop. It elevates itself above itself; undermines the mountains; lays cables underneath the billows of the sea and scorns the fury of their crests. Commerce is a moiling, tireless spider, catching all the world in a web of iron, and it will weave its wires wherever there is life. It has found the Orient and the Occident, and it will never rest until it ties its cables to the poles.

Fellow citizens of Iowa and Illinois, of Fulton and Lyons: - Commerce has taken the Mississippi river from between you, without hindering water traffic. The age of iron has built a monument of beauty and of usefulness before your very eyes and your very feet. It has made you independent of the ferry, (I don’t know what will become of that unless they convert it into a traveling saw mill, like they did at Muscatine, or go fishing with it.)

Progress never provides for what it supersedes. It laughs and thunders on. It left despotism on the shore to die, and sheds no tears for vanquished tyranny; lets hunkerism lose its capital invested; leaves the implements of yesterday in the furrows of the past; lets old ferries take care of themselves. It reaches out its arms of iron over danger’s chasms, across the widest rivers, over the very steamboat’s head, lays a floor of commerce in mid air, and says to citizens of sister States: “Cross over here!”

It has a mania for building bridges. It delights to leap. It laughs at the earth’s contour. It tries to stand on nothing but its own strength. It is an egotist. It would improve upon creation. Now and then it falls to earth and dashes human life into the chasms of destruction; then it blames its servants; it curses engineers and condemns materials, - but it never stops.
The bridge builders of America lead the world. They have already outdone the past. They have long since quit borrowing, both in mechanics and design. They set example now for all the world.

If underneath the floods of time our civilization should be buried, and the antiquarians of some future age should finally unearth the debris and the skeletons of all our arts and sciences, this continent and age would be forever famed for the wonder and superiority of engineering and its bridges.

After the superb design of Horace E. Horton, president of the Chicago Bridge and Iron Co., the enterprising citizens of this community have recognized the progress and the independence of the age, and given to the traveling public and to commerce a thoroughfare that looks down with scorn on steamboats and smiles on floods and ferries, and makes the two most productive States in all this progressive Union contiguous.

Your chairman tells me that according to the memory of man there’s been no bridge across the river here for half a century, and according to Genesis none for over 6,000 years. According to either statement, and the laws of Iowa, Lyons has gone dry for quite awhile. If Illinois has been pining for the theoretical purity of Iowa as long as Iowa has for the practical privileges of Illinois, there’d no doubt be hearty mutual dedication and extensive traffic on the bridge.

I don’t wonder that you’ve all got on clean clothes to-day and that your famous Lyons Drill Corps, champions of the State, and drilled to such perfection by their captain, Mayor Root, are all on duty receiving and escorting this countless throng of guests from far and near.

And now in the name of Commerce and of Progress, and of the Constitution of this Union, we join the hands of these great States – the States of Iowa and Illinois, like in situation and similar in enterprise, and whom we and this occasion, the 116th anniversary of American independence, have joined, let no man or steamboat put asunder – if they want to pass they may go under, and with the approval of her designer, and by the authority of her proprietors, and in the name of Capital and Labor, and for the purposes of commerce, your worthy chairman gives away the bride – the queen of all high foot and wagon bridges on the Mississippi.

After the speeches the large crowd obtained dinner, and then gathered to watch the hose races which resulted:
W. D. Warner’s - 33 sec
No. 2 (ruled out – no coupling).
No. 3 – 41 sec
No. 2 (made up anew) – 40 sec

The Hook & Ladder contest resulted in first prize, $50, for No. 1, and second, $30, for No. 2. There was some difficulty over this contest on account of local instead of State rules being used.

Several drills were also given during the afternoon by the Chicago company (composed of members of four companies of the 1st Regiment I. N. G., and the C. L. Root Drill Corps, the State champions.

In the evening, the crowd which gathered to see the fire works shown from the high bridge was immense. All convenient high points were sought, and many were out on the river in skiffs. The display was very good, and a fitting close to this glorious day, without doubt the most famous in Lyons’ history.

The Clinton Daily Herald; Sunday, July 6, 1891, P. 7

The toll collected on the bridge on the Fourth was reported to be for the benefit of the widow of the late Edward Depew, who was recently killed by falling from the structure upon which he was at work.