Gallatin’s First Successful River Bridge Built in 1869

The first successful Grand River Bridge to be constructed in Daviess County was an iron “Smith Patent Truss” bridge, built by C.W. Wheeler in 1869.

The first successful Grand River Bridge to be constructed in Daviess County was an iron “Smith Patent Truss” bridge, built by C.W. Wheeler in 1869.

Wheeler was contracted to build an iron truss bridge across Honey Creek south of Gallatin in late 1868. Bond was set for that bridge at $3,000 on Dec. 22, 1868. This bridge was accepted as complete on March 2, 1869, and the county court made special crossing orders since they doubted its capacity to stand under all loads. The court order included a fine for anyone crossing faster than a walk.

The court made plans on Feb. 5, 1869, to have the same kind of bridge built at Groomer’s Mil and at the Rodger’s Ferry site, one and one-quarter miles northeast of Gallatin. These bridges were to cost $7,500 each. William S. Brown, road commissioner, selected the two Grand River bridge sites. The Dave Groomer Mill Bridge was to be 100 yards below the mill.

Wheeler was awarded the contract for the two bridgs on April 5, 1869, and work was started by May 5, 1869. William C. Gillihan was to borrow money to pay for the bridges, and James S. Davis was to be the collecting agent for Wheeler. The south bridge was first called the Rogers Ferry Bridge (in the county records) in October, 1869. This bridge was completed Dec. 20, 1869, and Wheeler was paid the next day.

Dave Groomer was paid $300 for approaches to the Groomer-Wheeler Bridge in March, 1870.

The county appears to have been very proud of these bridges since additional payments were made for painting each one. Driftwood was cleared when needed, and the piers were boxed with wood to protect them, all at county expense.

Records show that the Groomer-Wheeler Bridge was replaced in 1886; however, the Rogers-Wheeler Bridge (Rogers Ferry Bridge — Old Wagon Bridge) was removed and sold for its iron value after over 100 years of continuous use.

MORE HISTORY OF OLD BRIDGES

Soon after the Stallings-Shriver Bridge washed away (1852) the county court started plans for a new bridge across the Grand River notheast of Gallatin (June 1853). John Comer was appointed as commissioner to plan the bridge. A bridge was proposed at Shriver’s Mill (Mill Dam) but was rejected by the court (May 3, 1854).

The court ordered Mr. Comer to le the contract for a wooden bridge, “Arch Plan” with stone abuttments at Adkinson Ford and for Comer to supervise its construction. Notice of the contract was published in the Bruswicker and Richmond Mirror. The contract was to be awarded o nthe first Monday of July, 1854, but was delayed to the second Monday of August and was “readvertised” in the Missouri Sun.

The contract went to James B Heaton for $7,000. It was to be completed by May 5, 1856. The bridge was described as a “Buckingham Bridge” (covered with a good shingle roof) and was to be at the site one and one-quarter miles northeast of Gallatin. This would cause more busienss to pass near Gallatin. There were to be stone peers on either bank of the Grand River, 160 feet apart. The peers were to be 30 feet high and taper to 5×6-1/2′ at the top. The bridge was ready to be “raised” on May 8, 1855, but other work was not completed on the date contracted because of high water.

The contract was renegotiated by the court on May 8, 1856, and Mr. Heaton was required to add a “protection wall on the east bank.” Two thousand dollars of payments were held for completion of that work and a bond of $4,000 required for surety for construction and service for three years. Also, in May, 1856, a road was approved from the east end of the bridge to Auberry Grove. The bridge must have been done by June, 1856, since Mr. Heaton was paid then $900 for the covered “similar” bridge across the old bed of Honey Creek south of Gallatin.

The Adkinson-Heaton Covered Bridge probably failed by March, 1857 since a ferry license was sold to Caniel Culter on the Gallatin Chillicothe road and George N. Rogers was sold a ferry license at Shriver’s Mill in partnership with Andrew Shriver.

Another bridge across the Grand River was not considered by the court, prior to Feb. 5, 1869. Free ferrys and low water crossings were considered during this 12-year period of time.

After the successful construction of the Smith Patent Truss Bridge in 1869, two other bridges were built by C.W. Wheeler on the Grand River. The one near Gallatin was called the “Roger’s Ferry Bridge.” It is remembered as the “Old Wagon Bridge” which was in use for over 100 years. Evidence of this bridge was still visible more than a century after it’s construction one-quarter mile above the Highway 6 & 13 bridge near Gallatin.

Written by David Stark, Gallatin.