Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Say You Want to Buy a Bridge

Continued from yesterday ...the interview done by the Bridgeport Leader with Art Stangle, Owner of the Cannonball Bridge in 1969.

Mr Stangle, in part one of yesterday blog,  was talking about accepting donations from patrons to cross the bridge....

Expanding on the ‘donation’ phase, Mr. Stangle commented that he first thought he would need to clear the matter through the Office of Transportation of the federal government, but that his attorney advised him that this was unnecessary as the Coast Guard gave him all rights in the manner.

He added that he did not foresee any difficulty with donations unless they are extreme.

Mr. Stangle said that he is keeping the ‘donation’ form for the public use until the liability insurance he is negotiating is extended from his trucks alone to the public. He noted that he would first have to complete installation of guardrails and cover the center of the bridge which now has gaps between the wooden rail flooring, particularly, as well as directing proper signs, before the insurance is final.

“We are now experimenting with nailing corrugated tin in the center and black topping both the wooden running boards and metal center to meet the insurance requirements substantially,” he said stated.

Once insurance if effected, the bridge will properly be a toll bridge, he explained, with an electric eye gate system after we extend the power line to the area.

Discussing travel acceptance, Mr. Stangle commented that up to 400 vehicles a day have crossed the bridge. Gatekeeper Albert Witsman told the Leader that the average for weekends is about 200 cars and that about 150 to 175, average count, travel the bridge daily.

Mr. Stangle said that he is trying to obtain a traffic counter, but “Knox County does not have one although I would like to get one from Illinois.”

He noted that other insurance problems concern installation of stop signs on his property lines and improving the road. He told the Leader that the stop sign situation had caused him difficulty and had caused controversy with the local government of the St. Francisville.

Mr. Stangle said that he arranged the procurement of signs and post, but  stated the town council of St. Francisville initially erected them in such a manner as to hamper travel of his trucks. He said the community's residents and he compromised the situation and that truck travel may now be smoothly run. 

Commenting on his road, partially the old railroad right-of-way, which leads from Plum Street in St. Francisville, he said that it had been traveled for years, but with ‘no upkeep.’ It was reported that he did a lot of clearing, working on the banks along the roadside and has taken steps to reduce dust from the gravel surface. He said that he is experimenting with an application of salt water to his graded road every three days to make a glaze on top.

Remarking on the ‘donation,’ he also added that he must reimburse the grain company before he can form a bridge corporation. He complained that some local banks were unwilling to assist in backing the project, or he could have progressed faster with the renovation and with the future projection for the road and bridge.

He said,  “we are not afraid of competition in Vincennes, but if the bridge will bring people to St. Francisville, it will bring more money and better business establishments here. We are not getting anything down here as it is.”

To renounce personal profit motives, he projected that he would eventually be compelled to sell his private ownership of the bridge to state government.

Mr. Stangle said that original construction on the bridge began in 1897 and that it was built by Edge Moor Bridgeworks of Wilmington, Delaware. He said that the New York Central railroad used the bridge until about 1965, noting that the route was particularly used to carry coal for the Blackford Glass Company in Vincennes, and some grain.

Mr. Stangle established his grain company near St. Francisville in 1958. A major fire completely destroyed his elevators in November of 1966, but he immediately rebuilt and has continued operation of the company.
Photograph by Mark Putney 2014

Photograph by Stephanie Boatman 2014