Sunday, February 9, 2014

Bridging the Past

Stan Musial Bridge
Yesterday was the ribbon cutting for the new bridge spanning the Mississippi River between Missouri and Illinois. It is named the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge in honor of a great man who was a World War II Vet as well as a Cardinals ballplayer, and for all veterans in America. For one day only, you could walk, run or bike across the bridge yesterday. I wanted to attend the event for a couple of reason. Despite the cold, I thought it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity as this is a vehicle-only bridge with no pedestrian or bike lanes. But the second reason was maybe more important. The first bridge to span the Mississippi River at St. Louis was the Eads Bridge, which opened 140 years ago in 1874. John Murdoch and his partner Charles Dickson were investors in both the company building the bridge. In fact Dickson was President of the Illinois and St. Louis Bridge Company, which built the bridge.

Dickson died before the Eads Bridge was completed, but I imagine that Murdoch attended the opening ceremonies on July 4, 1874. The bridge was first christened by Mrs. Julius Walsh, daughter of Charles Dickson, followed by a 100 gun salute and multiple speeches. Then the parade began. Police, politicians and key citizens were the first to cross, followed by a line of people that reportedly stretched for 13 miles! There were marching bands and fireworks to mark the celebration as well.

In attending the opening of the new Mississippi bridge 140 years later, I had a similar experience to Murdoch. There were police and politicians, key citizens and a parade. Nine speeches were given, and while it was a little chilly to just stand and listen, I have to say that each speech was fairly short, mostly non-political, and predominantly inspirational. After walking across the bridge to Illinois, we stayed and enjoyed the parade. There were no marching bands, but the military units, classic cars and the Clydesdale horses more than made up for the lack of music. And I appreciated the fact that the parade was far from being 13 miles long.

A walk on the bridge of the future gave me an opportunity to take a glimpse into the past. And that will hopefully make a nice addition to my John Murdoch story.

1 comment:

Mrs. Wryly said...

That really seemed like fun, except for the cold..... You are a hardy historian.