The old and the new bridge at Appleton-North Lanark Regional Museum (2012.87.2)
In the year 1858 Albert Teskey built a bridge in Appleton at a cost of $175. At that time a good deal of timber was floated down the river, and the bridge had to be built of long spans to allow the free passage of the timber. Consequently there were five spans, making a total length of 245 feet.
The bridge was constructed of wooden piers, filled with stone, and each span was strengthened in the centre by needlebeams and braces. The stringers of this bridge were of pine, and were covered vith pine plank three inches thick, end joined in the centre and pinned down with wooden pins, consequently the structure did not last very long.
Then in the years 1866-1867 the late Dennis Sullivan rebuilt the bridge, replacing the pine stringers with cedars and covered them with 4 inch cedar planks, which in the course of time got worn, when the covering of 3-inch planks was placed on top, it had a tendency to rot the cedar.
The heels of the braces were decaying, and again to strengthen the structure a bent was placed under the needlebeam of each span. These bents were constructed by bolting a sill on the rock bottom, and posts were mortised into these sills and also into the needlebeam above and braced from the bottom of one post to the top of the next one to it from the lower side, and the icebreaker acted as a brace against them down stream.
In the bay below *Munro’s Rapids, about one-half mile above the bridge, there was always an accumulation of sawdust about three feet deep, and in the winter the water froze this sawdust to such an extent it became a hazard. In the spring of 1899 when the ice was moving away it lifted this frozen sawdust from the bottom of the river and carried it down in one solid mass. The cake of this ice and sawdust, that was 20 feet long, came down the river and filled the space between the pier and the bent, with the result that the ice-breaker and two upper posts were carried away.
Teskey immediately notified the pathmaster, who repaired the damage by placing a long timber across the span on top of the bridge and chained the stringer to this limber. On the following Sunday they examined the bridge several times and found everything in good order. On Monday, about nine o’clock, Messrs, Teskey and Montgomery saw a piece of timber floating down the river which they thought was a post of the bridge, so they immediately ran to the bridge knowing trouble was coming.
Mr. Teskey was in the act of getting over the ruling of the bridge on to the pier to examine it when Mr. Montgomery told him that there was a team approaching. A carriage load from Carleton Place consisting of Mr. John Lyons, wife and child, Mr. John Morphy, and wife, and Mr. Ab. Morphy, Jr. had driven down to Appleton with the object of attending the funeral of Mr. Morphy’s aunt, Mrs. Dulmage. Teskey met the team at the end of the bridge and told them it was too dangerous. When three or four persons got out of the rig and two remained in, well,that’s when the structure gave away and the rest is history. Carleton Place resident Abraham Morphy Jr. was carried to a watery grave and his body found 150 feet from the falls.
It was in Teskey’s opinion that the bridge was perfectly safe for ordinary travel had the bent not been taken away with the ice. Did he think the bridge would stand for another year? Mr. J. A. Teskey answered he thought it would, with a few repairs, and these repairs were made.
However, Mr. Thomas Hart wasn’t convinced–he got a petition for a new bridge, and had it largely signed, and a deputation presented it to the council at its meeting on 8th April, 1899. It was favourably received by the council, and a new iron bridge was constructed.
*Munros Rapids on the Mississippi near Appleton – John Munro married Janet
Patterson in 1823 in Canada – John arrived in 1821 on the George Canning
ship as a single male.
From–Note on the probable origin of the Scottish surname of Gemmill or Gemmell
The Day the Appleton Bridge Collapsed
Lawsuits in Carleton Place — The Collapse of the Appleton Bridge
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun