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f/8 and Be There
Fred Lynch

The Bridge over 'The Big Ditch'

Posted Wednesday, May 31, 2017, at 12:00 AM

Glenn Lampley, left, and Milburn Miller pose for this photo taken in 1927 at the bridge over the flooded Diversion Channel. (Photo courtesy Eloise Schrader)


Feb. 7, 1925 Southeast Missourian

Big Bridge Spans are in Place

$150,000 Structure Opens Soon

The $150,000 bridge spanning the floodway on Kingshighway, south of Cape Girardeau, will be completed within less than six weeks, Dennis Scivally, resident engineer for the State Highway Commission said today.

The three spans over the diversion channel proper have been swung into place, the piers completed, and all that is needed to complete this section of the long bridge is the pouring of concrete on the roadway, and painting of the beams.

This was the most difficult part of the construction of the bridge. To span the diversion channel, it was necessary to erect piers at the water's edge on each side of the channel, and others 100 feet back from the bank. The span across the channel proper is in three sections, two of the spans being 100 feet in length and one 150 feet.

Scivally said that grading is being carried on daily on both the Cape and Scott county sides of the channel, with indications it will be done by early spring.

A dedicatory celebration, when the bridge is formally opened, is being planned.


Oct. 5, 1925 Southeast Missourian

New Bridge Open for Use Tomorrow

The big diversion channel bridge, completed at a cost of $150,000, and the stretch of concrete on either side, will be thrown open to traffic Tuesday morning, according to Dennis Scivally, state highway engineer. The new piece of highway cuts off several miles in state road No. 9 [later known as U.S. 61] south of here.

Some delay has been experienced in completing the bridge on account of late shipment of some asphalt materials to be used on the floor of the structure. It was necessary to lay the asphalt to cover the expansion joints which are at regular intervals across the bridge. The last panels of the floor were covered today and the project will be ready for use Tuesday. Motorists removed the barricades last night and drove over the rough floored section of the bridge, so anxious were they to try the new highway and escape going over the rough road formerly used.

Although the last of the asphalt was laid today, workmen will be doing finishing work on the shoulders and on the bridge for several days, officials said today. Warning flags will be kept up in such instances as much as possible, but motorists are asked to watch for the men so as to prevent accidents.


Editor's Note:

The old U.S. 61 bridge no longer exists.

Fellow blogger James Baughn details the history of "the audacious project to drain Swampeast Missouri" in a three-part series:

The Great Diversion Channel Bridge War (Part 1)

The Great Diversion Channel Bridge War (Part 2)

The Great Diversion Channel Bridge War (Part 3)

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    Never was much clearance during floods for this bridge. I know we had a neighbor, whose son was learning to drive, so they decided to use that approach to help him practice. Very unfortunately, the young man drove off the approach, flipped the car and his dad, who was teaching his son to drive, was lost. Very, very sad.

    -- Posted by Denis Rigdon on Wed, May 31, 2017, at 5:30 PM
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    I worked that wreck. I've thought about how that young man must have felt many times over the years. It was one of those scenes I'll never forget.

    -- Posted by Ken Steinhoff on Sat, Jun 3, 2017, at 1:14 AM