Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bridging the Gap Boonville's New Highway 5 Connection

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bridging the Gap Boonville's New Highway 5 Connection

Article excerpt

Where Missouri Highway 5 and Interstate 70 intersect is situated this old-time river town, dating back more than a century and a half. The Main House and other buildings prove it.

A younger landmark, the old Boonville bridge over the Missouri River, also claims a place in the town's cherished history. Many folks will be sorry to see it go when the new bridge paralleling it is completed in 1997, say local historians Bob Dyer and Wayne Lammers.

The old bridge dates to 1924, when Boonville entrepreneurs persuaded the Missouri Highway Department to build it. It was wood-planked at first, but steel decking was added in 1936, and it has never been changed - one of the few bridges to boast such decking.

In obeisance to the old bridge and its pedestrian walkway, the new one will also have a walkway - for an additional $300,000. The money comes from the Highway Department, the Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the local Katy Trail, and residents of Boonville.

"That's a lot of money for Boonvillians," Lammers says. "But we're a very giving community, and we love our local history."

Some years ago, a cobblestone road leading to a river wharf was discovered directly under the old bridge. Those cobbles have been excavated and are stored, awaiting the eventual construction of Cobblestone Park.

Rumors about the old bridge abound: It will be saved, it will be destroyed, it has been sold - take your pick.

Bob Dyer, a poet and balladeer, is practically a local treasure, as well as an ardent historian. "I want to save everything old," he laughs, "but, of course, it can't be done."

With folk singers Cathy Barton and Dave Para, Dyer creates and markets tapes of historic songs. He also writes ballads. His wife, Sharon, teaches art at the University of Missouri at Columbia. A popular tape of Dyer's is "Johnny Whistletrigger - Civil War Songs From the Western Border" with Barton and Para. …

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