Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Death of the Plank Road

The Death of the Plank Road   (continued from yesterday)

April 14,1858, the editor of the Gazette was still complaining about the Plank Road.

The Vincennes and Lawrenceville Plank Road is in a most dilapidated condition—it is worse than no road at all. If there is any vitality at all left in the corporation to which the road belongs, something ought to be done towards repairing the grade, relaying the plank, and rebuilding the bridges. The road is now wholly impassible.

A judgement was then obtained in the Lawrence Circuit court and the Sheriff of Lawrence County advertised the road for sale on August 27, 1858. 

The Vincennes editor thought this was unfair to the stockholders, mostly Vincennes investors, and that they should do the honorable thing and pay the company’s debts. By suing the stockholders, the citizens of Lawrenceville were starting a war, and that the shareholders would probably resort to tedious and protracted lawsuits, that would result in good for nobody, save the lawyers, and foster hatred, bitterness and jealousy—the bane of all enterprise and progress. 

The stockholders then took to writing letters defending themselves, and saying they wouldn’t pay for a “dead horse”.

In the July 28, 1859 the Vincennes paper reported more trouble for the Plank Road:

The Vincennes and Lawrenceville Plank Road Company is certainly afflicted with more than the ordinary ills.   It is without money, in debt, sued in two courts, their road is held by judgments, and is "down at the heels." J. B. Watts, Esq., of Lawrenceville, told the editor that the bridge belonging to this Company, across the Embarrass River, had fallen in.

In that same paper, the title of another article read: The Plank-Road to be sold without Reserve—a rare Chance for Speculators. It was alleged that the debts for the road were in excess of two thousand dollars and the editor was still haranguing the stockholders for not paying their share.  The stockholders responded that they wanted an accounting of the tolls taken in and costs of operating the road.  

After several public meetings, and apparently a satisfactory accounting by August of 1865, six years later, the Supervisors of Lawrence County made an appropriation  of money out of the swamp land fund to build a good substantial bridge across the Embarrass river at the site of the old plank road bridge.

The rock for the abutments and piers was in the process of being delivered, and the work would progress as soon as the water subsided. The superstructure was to be of iron, thus making it permanent— the whole to be completed by the 15th of September 1865.


The Supervisors also proposed to make a liberal appropriation to repair the road across Allison prairie, if the business men and others in Vincennes would likewise contribute. The plank road in which Vincennes had invested proved a failure, as had all plank roads according to the Vincennes newspaper editor.