Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rebridging the Blue Grass gap

I'm trying to remember how many years it's been since it was possible to drive directly into and out of Chariton on the Blue Grass Road, which follows the Mormon Trail's route into town from the southeast. Established by Mormon pioneers during the summer of 1846-47, this was the only road into town when Chariton came along during 1849.

The Blue Grass part of this transportation sandwich closed a good many years ago when the old wooden bridge across the Union Pacific railroad tracks failed and was condemned. Detours were established and  a whole generation grew up barely aware of the barricaded bridge.

But now, at last, the bridge is being replaced.

The Blue Grass, obviously, was the first layer established here. When the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad (later C.B.&Q. and now Burlington, Northern & Santa Fe) tracks were laid into town during the summer of 1867, the Blue Grass climbed over on a grade crossing. In 1912-13, the deep cut that the north-south Union Pacific (then Rock Island) tracks follow through town tunneled under both the older rail line and the road (the bridge that failed was built then).

Finally, when the U.S. 34 bypass that curves around Chariton to the south was constructed, the big bridge that soars over it all was built. 

It's going to be a while before the new bridge is complete, but when it is, I think Chariton and Russell should get together and throw a big party right in the middle of it.

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