|Madison County ILGenWeb posted|
NOTE:The Alton "Burlington" railroad bridge opened with great fanfare on May 1, 1894. The auto bridge in Alton was constructed in 1928. Shown in the 1912 photo is the railroad bridge, with one of its spans swung open to allow the steamer Alton to travel through. The railroad bridge no longer exists.
ALTON'S ORIGINAL RAILROAD BRIDGE BUILDER VISITS ALTON
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 23, 1916
100 years ago
W. S. MacDonald, the resident engineer who constructed the Alton [railroad] bridge which was thrown open to use in 1894, was a visitor in Alton Sunday as the guest of James Duncan and R. H. Levis. Mr. MacDonald has made very few trips back to Alton since he left here after the bridge was finished. He was a young man when he came here to start work on the bridge and it was the biggest job he had tackled up to that time. He was a highly competent man, and afterward he became a well-known bridge builder.
While here, Mr. MacDonald inspected the bridge which he completed 22 years ago last May. He recalled that he drove the first stake for the bridge, and that he had full charge of its construction. He was in charge of it for a while after it was completed. Mr. MacDonald made a trip over Alton and was astonished at how the city had grown. He recalled how the Alton bridge was a part of a big project to belt around East St. Louis, this fact being indicated by its original name, the St. Clair, Madison and St. Louis Belt Railroad Company. The dream has not yet been realized. The panic of 1893 under Cleveland's administration knocked out all hopes of a realization of the project then. The bridge had no feeders to make it prosper, it was soon in financial troubles and later was sold to a syndicate of railroads, and they have no interest in the belting of the city of East St. Louis. The Illinois Terminal now has a similar project on foot, planning to make the Alton bridge a link in the belt system that was long ago planned.
Mr. MacDonald could see that Alton, with her great manufacturing industries, could make a much better financial proposition out of a belt line than could have been done years ago when the bridge was conceived. Mr. MacDonald has been in St. Louis attending the Episcopal convention as a representative of his church in New York City. He is now a retired, wealthy man. He had kindly memories of Alton, and wished to see the city and the bridge that was his first important piece of work. [Comment from above posting]
|1941 Aerial Photo from ILHAP|
|Mike O'Neal posted|
Park downtown Alton the train bridge is gone and a new Alton bridge is in place today the train bridge would open and close on the lock and Dan 26 to let the boats go through. The dam 26 is move down the river about a haft mile.
|Dave Hall posted|
Dave Hall And it predates the bridge for the cars also! The auto bridge was finished in 1928.
[The old dam was completed in 1938.]
GRAND OPENING OF THE ALTON RAILROAD BRIDGE
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, May 1, 1894
125 years ago
Source: Alton Daily Telegraph, May 1, 1894
125 years ago
The grandest celebration in the history of Alton, and one which has been heralded to all parts of the country, is the great May Day Bridge Opening. Months ago, the opening preparations for this gala event were carefully planned by the enthusiastic Altonians, who joined hands with the constructors of the magnificent new bridge which spans the Mississippi from bank to bank, below the bluffs of Alton - the coming commercial city in the State. The committees have been untiring in their efforts, and the splendid success is looked upon with pride.
Thirty-five hundred formal invitations were sent out, and the immense throngs that came in from all parts of Illinois and Missouri taxed the town. At an early hour this morning, the town was alive. Business men, with flags and bunting were at work giving the town its holiday attire.
Upon the arrival of the trains, the doubts of a small attendance vanished. The trains loaded down with visitors, commenced unloading their freight at an early hour. The Big Four trains brought in visitors from Bunker Hill, Litchfield, Venice and St. Louis. The Chicago & Alton, and Bluff Line trains added to the throng with immense numbers from towns as far north as Bloomington. Many of the visitors were met by friends and driven to homes throughout the city. Numerous distinguished personages were greeted and taken in charge by the Reception Committee. The Standard and Hoge's bands met the trains and enlivened things materially. The throng at the depot was immense. The visiting Knights of Pythias, Uniformed Rank, were met by the home lodge and paraded the streets, headed by a band. The crowds scattered over the city, and no lack of amusements were furnished.
Immense crowds assembled on the riverfront to watch the arrival of the excursion boats. The steamers Grand Republic and Pargold brought in numbers of visitors from St. Louis. At noon the beautiful new excursion steamer, City of Vicksburg, arrived with the rowing clubs aboard. The Modocs, Western, and North St. Louis teams came in force with four hundred members and interested friends.
At 1 o'clock, the throng had gathered at the river front and lined up between Henry Street and the Union Depot. The special Bluff Line train bearing Acting Governor Gill and Staff, had arrived at 11:15. The Governor was escorted by the Reception Committee to various friends in the city. The Burlington train, with Acting Governor O'Meara, ex-Governor E. O. Stanard of Missouri, Mayor Waldbridge of St. Louis, ex-Mayor Brown of Alton, the Burlington officials and distinguished visitors from St. Louis, did not arrive until shortly before one o'clock. The train crossed the bridge to the east "Y" of the trestle approach. Shortly after one o'clock, the Burlington train of four coaches, with the Missouri Governor and staff, headed for the Missouri shore amid the applause of the crowd, the shrieks of engine and the Illini yacht whistles. At the center of the bridge the train stopped. The Bluff Line train with Acting Gov. Gill and staff, Mayor Brenholt and daughter, Miss Edith, who was accorded the honor of breaking the bottle of champagne, members of the City Council, Board of Trade and Press. The Bluff Line train backed out so that the platforms of the two trains came together in the middle of the bridge. Here an address of welcome, choicely worded, was made by Mayor Brenholt, followed by the breaking of the bottle of champagne over the steel structure by the fair christener, Miss Edith Brenholt. As she scattered the contents on the bridge, Miss Edith pronounced these words:
"I name this bridge the Alton Bridge, and dedicate it to the cause of commerce, and may the Giver of all good guide and protect and watch over it and all of us."
The Governors then greeted each other in a formal manner. Governor Gill's short and pithy speech is here given:
"Illinois, third in the Union, with out-stretched arms on the bosom of the Father of Waters, exchanges courtesies with younger Missouri, fifth in rank, and extends a cordial welcome to the Governor of her sister commonwealth, requesting that he accept the hospitalities of the day as guest of the prairie state."
The reply from Missouri's Lieut. Governor O'Meara was a choice, but of formality, made in response to the greeting of Governor Gill. He spoke as follows:
"In the name of the great commonwealth of Missouri, whose people I have the honor to represent on this occasion, I bear friendly greetings and good wishes to the people of the grand state of Illinois. In ancient times, it is related that it was the custom of the Doge of Venice, upon assuming his office, to figuratively wed the Adriatic by casting a mug of gold into its waves, but our States are bound together by the great precursors of modern civilization steel and stone and stronger and more indestructible, yet are the ties that hold us for we are united by the brotherhood of man in liberty, equality and fraternity. I will not consume your time with any extended remarks at present, but will express the wish in behalf of three million people of Missouri, that the fraternal spirit that has ever existed will last as long as the immovable rocks on which the foundation of this magnificent structure is placed."
The Governors then shook hands and the dedication was complete. Both Governors were then taken on to the Burlington train, and both trains headed for this side. Carriages were in waiting, and the speakers and committees were driven to their places in the procession then forming at City Hall.
At 2 o'clock sharp, the parade commenced to form on the west side of the City Hall. For a time the public square was a busy scene of arriving carriages, societies, bands, etc. Under the management of Grand Marshal W. D. Sparks and Marshal of the Parade A. L. Floss and his aides, order was finally brought out of chaos, and the confused mass at once became one of order. The procession was headed by the Alton City Band, discoursing an inspiring tune. Next in line came the Uniformed Rank Knights of Pythias, resplendent in showy and beautiful uniforms. Besides the Alton lodge, there was in line White Cross Division No. 14 of Litchfield, with 25 men; East St. Louis with 20 members; Venice with 25; and Grafton with 20 members. The K. of P.'s appeared in fine style and were greatly admired. Next came the Standard Band, followed by the cadets of the Western Military Academy with their officers. Then followed Acting Governor Gill, of Illinois, with his staff drawn by a handsome team of blacks; Lieutenant Governor O'Meara of Missouri, drawn by a spirited team of brown horses. The Governors staffs were attired in full uniform, making an imposing sight. The speakers, Mayor J. J. Brenholt, Hon. E. O. Stanard, and Mayor Walbridge of St. Louis, followed in a carriage. Then came the city fathers in carriages, with the Board of Trade following. It was a beautiful line of carriages, with thirty in procession, and extending a distance of several squares.
The Jerseyville Band headed those of foot, the G. A. R. soldiers and sailors, in uniform, bearing their war-stained colors. The Fire Department, with their glittering carts, active firemen in uniforms, made a showy appearance. Then came the Societies, Trade Unions, and citizens, interspersed with bands.
The procession moved in orderly array and took up its line of march as follows: From City Hall west to Piasa, Piasa north to Third, Third west to Belle, Belle north to Ninth, countermarch Ninth and Belle to Fourth, Fourth west to State, State south to Second [Broadway], Second east to Ridge, Ridge north to Fourth, Fourth west to Henry, Henry south to Third, Third west to speakers' stand. It was a gorgeous array, and was a glittering line of carriages and uniforms. The bands were universally good. A more beautiful show was never before seen in the Bluff City.
The greatest congregation of the day was at Court Square [this was at W. Third and Easton Streets, next to the present-day City Hall]. The terraces were massed with visitors. The carriages blocked the driveways and it was difficult to reach the stand. The Speakers Committee had made thorough preparations and arrangements. The Governors' staffs and speakers were escorted to the stand by the committee. At the proper time, Mayor Brenholt was introduced by Mr. L. D. Yager to make his address of welcome.
The address made by Alton's Mayor aroused much enthusiasm and applause. Acting Governor Gill was next introduced. His speech was received most warmly and was admirably delivered. Following Col. Brenholt's remarks, Acting Governor Gill was introduced and spoke.
[Note: The railroad bridge was demolished in 1990.]
On the west side of the river, you can still see the abandoned CB&Q embankment and the tree line from the old junction with the west bank branch.