The Second Current River Bridge (1928-1991)

Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Through the legendary lens of photographer T.J. Price in 1928, the view is looking west at the second Current River bridge, shadowing (lower left) a portion of the first bridge built in 1898. The new steel and concrete structure was 1,493 feet long with a 23-feet wide deck. At the time, it was one of the longest bridges in the Missouri highway system. Work began in 1925 but following numerous weather delays, it wasn’t opened to traffic until March 21, 1928. According to The Prospect-News archives, a waiting line of eight cars crossed the new bridge at 3:35 Saturday afternoon. The first car, ‘loaded with a bunch of high school girls,’ was driven by Miss Alma Fritsch of Doniphan. A truck loaded with cross ties, driven by Ed Cox, was the first vehicle over the west side of the bridge. A formal dedication was set for May 22, 1928 (the date of the above photo.) After two days of rain, the ceremony was moved indoors to the high school auditorium. The American Legion Band of Poplar Bluff followed by various groups depicting stages of the area’s history and floats displaying Ripley County industries marched through a light drizzle around the courthouse square and back to the auditorium on Pine Street. Following speeches from various dignitaries, dinner was served at the Presbyterian church. A new bridge also meant a big change that some merchants opposed. The project included a one-mile stretch of new highway leading to the bridge from the east which would relocate Route 42 (now U.S. Highway 160) to the north of town (present-day Highway Street), bypassing the business district. In the 1960s that ‘new’ stretch of highway was replaced again by the road we use today.