Monday, November 2, 2015

Art Stangle, Owner of the Cannonball Bridge 1969

Bridgeport Leader July 17, 1969 St. Francisville bridge
Trestled  railroad bridge converted for truck and car traffic crossing the Wabash near St. Francisville by Art Stangle, owner of Stangle Farms Grain Service in Knox County. The 1440-foot-long structure was used by the New York central railroad until 1965. The photograph was published in the Bridgeport Leader July 17, 1969

Photograph taken by Larry Curry 2014

 Owner of Bridge over Wabash River Relates Details of his Project

Art Stangle, owner of Stangle Farms Grain Service, Cathlinette Road in Knox County, originally purchased and renovated the New York Central railroad bridge over the Wabash River near St. Francisville to accommodate the grain trucks of his business firm, but the conversion has already been a service to the people of Lawrence County as well as to those in southern Knox County.

Mr. Stangle told the Leader that his grain service company has a ‘dumping’ station for grains at Sand Barrens, west of St. Francisville, and the bridge development plan originated from that station's problem of transferring grain to Mr. Stangle’s Indiana elevators for processing.

“At Sand Barrens, the grain is dumped into trailers of the semi-tractor type trucks for transporting to the elevator. Before we finished the bridge, it was necessary to go well out of the way – up to the Lawrenceville- Vincennes bridge to reach the elevators and it took 12 trailers to keep the operation going then,” he explained.

“Since the bridge has been serviceable last year, we have only needed four trailers and two tractors for the same operation,” he said and added, “and we have had one going every 9 1/2 minutes.”

Mr. Stangle noted that he began negotiations for the New York Central bridge in September, 1966. 
He finally received contracts for the old ‘Cannonball’ or ‘Big Four’ Bridge on May one last year.

He immediately began renovation steps after pulling the railroad ties and rails, widening the driveway from 8 to 12 feet.

The biggest job of the restoration consisted of welding the steel bars which will serve as the safety railing, according to Mr. Stangle. He commented that the main bridge with trestle is 1440 feet long, and that the smaller flat – bridge which leads to the ‘Cannonball’ spans a 1280 foot ravine or ‘washout.’ “These steel bars were welded 8 feet apart on the bridges at a rate of seven a day by a full-time worker, Mr. Stangle said.

He noted that when Stangle trucks first began traveling across the bridge, it was posted private and had gates to keep the public off the structure. “Many people were slipping over the bridge then as we had no one supervising the road, and use of the route picked up gradually,” he added.

He had privately financed the rebuilding of the structure ‘at great expense.’ To help reimburse him on further improvement, he opened the bridge to the public for use at their own risk at this time with a ‘donation’ booth and hoppers for the $.25 automobile donation and $.50 for the truck donation.

to be continued tomorrow....