Archive for Tuesday, August 6, 2013

100 years ago: Federal regulations might alter Kansas River bridge plans

August 6, 2013


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Aug. 6, 1913:

  • "The United States government may have a voice in the location and erection of the new bridge across the Kaw river at Lawrence. Present plans, although incomplete and unofficial, may have to give way to a set of specifications and instructions that is in course of construction in the office of the United States engineer in Kansas City, Mo. Whenever a community considers the building of a bridge across any of the larger streams of the county the government is always represented in the planning and in the final construction of the bridge. There are certain regulations and specifications which must be complied with and these may materially alter the plans that have been made for the new $200,000 structure across the Kaw at Lawrence. The principal change may be in the location of the bridge. While this has not been definitely decided upon there was much favor in building the structure straight south on Massachusetts street, using the present south approach and filling in on the north side to raise the approach above the high water level. But the Kaw is rated as a navigable stream and as such the new bridge will have to permit the passage of boats up the river. It may be that the government will require as much as 40 feet clearance above the average water level. In this case the Massachusetts street location would not be practicable. Should such a requirement be made it is quite probable that the bridge will be moved down stream and constructed with the south approach on Rhode Island street and the north approach on New York street in North Lawrence. Here it will be possible to obtain a sufficient clearance. The banks on both sides of the river are the highest of any point in the city and the distance across is the shortest. A government engineer was here last week and returned to Kansas City with maps and charts and information regarding the situation here. From these a set of specifications will be drawn up and the county will be obliged to comply with them in the construction of the new bridge. While the Kaw in all probability never will be used for navigation if the government acts in this case several changes will be necessary.... City Engineer E. H. Dunmire ... is in favor of the building of the bridge at Rhode Island street. 'It is the shortest distance across, the best and highest approaches, it will be possible to give the required clearance for boats. Rhode Island street can be widened at the approach and the connecting street, Winthrop [Seventh] street, can be widened and traffic will be just as easy as at present straight up Massachusetts street. It will reduce the cost and give us a bridge above the flood water mark at all times.'"
  • "Indications of relief from the heat prevailing in Kansas-Missouri-Oklahoma are faint.... From the weather office at Topeka came reports of a whole state staggered by yesterday's heat. The highest record of yesterday was 114 at Clay Center. Hot winds swept wide sections, especially in the west, where the heat continued today.... The old weather record has tumbled. And in its stead a new figure has been hung up. Yesterday, August 5, claims the [Lawrence] record with a temperature of 104 1/2. The high figure was reached late in the afternoon and is a degree and a half above the former high mark, which was reached on the fifteenth day of July of this year. Thus yesterday was the hottest day of the year and no one who was in Lawrence yesterday will argue the point with you. The day started in hot and it continued to grow warmer and more oppressive as the day advanced. At 2 o'clock when the regular reading was taken the former record of 103 above had been reached, but the thermometer was still climbing and it was certain that a new record would be made, and it was.... The weather man scared up a few clouds and some lightning last night but this failed to produce any rain although there was a drop in temperature today."
  • "In spite of the heat of today a large number of people are spending the day at Woodland Park, the occasion being the big Douglas County C.P.A. picnic. Many country people came in this morning for the day, but no doubt the heat kept a number away from the city who had planned to spend the day here."


Sarah St. John 4 years, 8 months ago

"But the Kaw is rated as a navigable stream...." Well, that got me interested, so I tried to find more. Sorry this is from wikipedia; I didn't have time to get a better source and there weren't enough relevant footnotes for me to trace it back. But it's a good starting point for the curious:

"Beginning in 1854, steamboats operated regularly from Kansas City to Lawrence and Topeka, and sometimes as far as Fort Riley. This traffic continued through the territorial period and the early years of statehood, falling off rapidly about 1860. The last steamer to travel the Kansas was the Alexander Majors, which was chartered in 1866 to run between Kansas City and Lawrence until the railroad bridge at the mouth of the river, which had been destroyed by floods, could be rebuilt. This traffic into statehood gave the Kansas legal status as a navigable stream in the eyes of the Federal government. In the 1860s, the country's goods were increasingly transported by the extensive and comparatively efficient railroad system.

"On February 25, 1864, the state legislature declared the Kansas River nonnavigable, allowing railroad and bridge companies to build bridges and dams without restriction. This law remained in effect until 1913, when, after it had been characterized as "a crime against the public welfare of Kansas", it was finally repealed and the river's status was restored to a navigable stream. The status has not since changed, though modern commercial navigation on the river is largely confined to dredging."

AlexTJ 4 years, 8 months ago

Thanks for the post Sarah, that's exactly the first thing I was curious about after I finished reading the articles. Old home town and Town Talk always make me miss Lawrence, but in a good way.

915_Stroker 4 years, 8 months ago

you would think that if it was navigable , you could put a boat in at topeka and go to say eudora, but you cant , theres a power plant in the way, if you have to take your boat out and go around it hows that navigable?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.