Making a town whole

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Restoring the bridge washed away by a 1982 flash flood became a matter of civic pride for the tiny community of Old Appleton.

When erected in 1879, the bridge linked the two sides of town, one in Perry County and the other in Cape Girardeau County. Children who grew up in the community spent their summers jumping off the bridge into Apple Creek or tossing rocks into the water. Old Appleton wasn't Old Appleton without its bridge.

Last weekend, the community of 82 residents celebrated the completion of a project that took 25 years of planning, overcoming setbacks and fund-raising to accomplish. The federal government paid 80 percent of the $519,000 restoration cost. Private donations and the town's road fund took care of the rest.

In one sense, restoring the bridge was not absolutely necessary. The restored Old Appleton Bridge is limited to pedestrians and bicyclists. Vehicles traveling through the area can use the nearby U.S. 61 bridge built in 1931. But in the larger sense, the bridge restores Old Appleton to the hometown those who live there know and love.

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