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1929 The Madison-Milton Bridge

Before 1929 the only public access to the Kentucky side of the river was by ferry boat. This was satisfactory until the advent of the automobile. The ferry was too slow and too small to handle the heavy, bulky automobile.

The concept of a bridge across the Ohio River from Madison to her sister city, Milton had been a long discussed dream that finally came to fruition in 1928. The general contract for building the bridge was given to the J. G. White Corporation of New York City and construction began in October of 1928.

One by one the piers began to emerge from the waters of the Ohio and along the bank and here we come to the curse of pier number 7. On Sunday morning, February 7, 1929 an “air blow” in the caisson of pier 7 let sand and water into the chamber. A “sand hog” was sadly crushed to death beneath the weight. Less than three weeks later, a worker’s clothing was ignited while he worked on the same pier. He died a short time later. Stories began to circulated among the workers that pier number 7 was cursed. It was said some refused to work there, others did so reluctantly.

The bridge was completed in 1929 and, by all accounts, the first person to cross the bridge was an 11-year-old boy riding a bicycle. The cost to build the bridge was $1,365,101.84.

The bridge was a toll bridge and if you wanted to cross in an automobile (or horse drawn wagon) it would cost you forty five cents, a hefty amount in those days. You could walk across for a nickel and there was a lot of foot traffic back then. Twenty years to the day of her dedication the toll was lifted from the bridge, her debts being paid off.

The day of the dedication was December 20, 1929. Many dignitaries gathered and the town celebrated with a parade and other activities. It was a cold day and everyone was bundled up against the frigid air but spirits were high because this link would make a big difference in the life of the town of Madison. Now people could zip across the bridge at a breathtaking 15 to 20 miles an hour. No more waiting for the ferry and enduring the slow fifteen minute ride to the other side. How exciting.

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