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Dave Darby

Some Don't Make It

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Back when I was a kid, we had a camping spot in Moscow - no, not in Russia, but Iowa. Whenever we'd ride our trail bikes in the woods near the Cedar River, we'd see these old bridge piers.

 

MoscowBridge-vi.jpg

 

Back then, I had no idea how old they were, or what historical signifcance they had. It wasn't until 2007, when I met Historian Lyell Henry, and he loaned me a copy of Huebinger's Map & Guide to the River to River Road that the light bulb clicked on... There it was, this odd "S" curve, west of Moscow, where the river bent. And "the bridge."

 

Pg046-vi.jpg

 

Moscow has a piece of arguably some of Iowa's oldest highway pavement, dating back to between 1912 and 1915. This strip obviously dates back to the River to River Road days, through IA Primary 7, Whiteway 7, Detroit Lincoln Denver Highway, and for about 3 - 4 years, US 32...

 

PB090045rt-vi.jpg

 

At the end of this stretch of pavement, to the right, is this bridge pier...

 

PA120182-vi.jpg

 

Which goes with these bridge piers...

 

MoscowBridge_Panorama1asm-vi.jpg

 

Now, through my research, I learned that "Call of the Wild" author Jack London's father lived in Moscow around that time, and was involved in building a bridge near Moscow. Possibly even THIS bridge... Now, finding actual photos of this bridge turned out to be quite the challenge. In fact, it took me about 3 years, but when it rained, it poured, as I managed to find an old post card on Ebay, and someone from the area sent me a scanned copy of another...

 

They sure don't build 'em like this anymore!

 

MoscowBridge01BW-vi.jpg

 

By 1926, the Federal government was in the highway business, and the route that the Moscow bridge was on was both too narrow, and to convoluted. So in 1930, when US 32 was paved, a new bridge was constructed to the south, and the the Moscow bridge was decommissioned. That straight route at the bottom is US 6 in the late 30's...

 

MoscowBridge19373923798-vi.jpg

 

By 1942, we were at war with Germany and Japan, and steel was at a premium. On March 2nd of that year, the Muscatine Journal reported that "The board of supervisors has condemned and closed the bridge." The farmers got up a petition to repair and reopen the bridge, but by the time this 1944 flood photo was taken, the Moscow bridge was gone...

MoscowBridge1944-vi.jpg

 

People driving over the Cedar River on Route 6 can still look north and see the piers, as they drive by. So one of Iowa's oldest highway bridges is gone - but it isn't forgotten.

 

MoscowBridge200923850-vi.jpg

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I tell you what, you Iowans sure know how to obliterate enough of an old road's path so it's hard to figure out where it once lay! I never would have guessed the 1920s alignment from the modern aerial image.

 

We have our moments of this in Indiana, too: http://jimgrey.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/the-bedford-puzzle/

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Dave,

 

A really splendid write up and photo documentation. First class!

 

BTW, the Huebinger's map is a real gem. I wish they had operated in my "neck of the woods." The detail is terrific.

 

Also, note the lack of a center joint in the concrete road. I'm hoping to use the lack of a center joint as a clue to help date old pavement, and this appears to contribute to that method.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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I tell you what, you Iowans sure know how to obliterate enough of an old road's path so it's hard to figure out where it once lay! I never would have guessed the 1920s alignment from the modern aerial image.

 

We have our moments of this in Indiana, too: http://jimgrey.wordp...bedford-puzzle/

 

They do a pretty good job of obliterating old road alignments here in the Memphis area. Trying to follow old 61 from Memphis to Walls, MS, - (as they say in New York "for-ged-about'it" :D It's obvious down Florida Avenue to Kansas - then the I-240 tears up the area. On the south side of 240 you have to know where you are going, but it is there. Once you get back on Old Horn Lake road 61 goes under the railroad yards (obvious because of the underpass construction), then past some commercial outfits, finally wandering into a housing development and coming to dead end. Between there and Walls there are faint traces now and again, using Google Earth, but nothing definite. Of course it is within the realm of possibility that some of that part of the alignment was washed out by Ole Missy at one time or another - there are several oxbows in the area separate from the main river course.

 

What the heck - it ads to the excitement and mystery.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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