This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.
Lyndon Bridge is falling down, falling down, Lyndon Bridge is falling down, my fair lady. So why should you care? Because this historic Lyndon Bridge sits out on the Illinois prairie astride the Rock River between Lyndon and Prophetstown.It was in 1894 that the town of Lyndon floated a bond to build the original bridge, a seven-hundred-foot wooden span eighteen feet wide. As was the practice in bridge building in the nineteenth century, the wood was not painted, left to oxidize and form its own protective coating.
Sturdy Lyndon Bridge stood strong for almost a hundred years, but by the 1970s, it was clear that Lyndon Bridge was falling down. The county bridge commissioners had to lower the load limit to four tons, and the speed limit to ten miles an hour. In 1980, the bridge was closed to all traffic except motorcycles, bicycles, and snowmobiles.
In 1996, the commissioners closed the bridge completely, and began to demolish it. Suddenly, a cry of "save the bridge" rose up. A petition to save the bridge, signed by 500 townspeople, stopped the demolition. A Save the Bridge Committee was formed, with an ingenious plan to restore the bridge. Individuals were invited to buy a Douglas fir plank, three inches by twelve inches by eighteen feet: two hundred pounds of plank. The plan currently is to install seventy of these planks a year for the next ten years, until London Bridge is solid once again.
You can help. Each plank will have a plaque with the donor’s name on it. If you've been looking about for a suitable memorial, a plank on Lyndon Bridge will run about eight-hundred thousand dollars less than an endowed professorship at a university.
And you'll be making history as well as preserving it. The project is being paid for in a very old fashioned nineteenth century way: without a single penny of tax money, and with no Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. The Lyndon Bridge restoration is literally "pay as you go."
Rock Island Lines with Roald Tweet is underwritten by Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.