The Gazette from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on November 22, 1970 · 31
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The Gazette from Cedar Rapids, Iowa · 31

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 22, 1970
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f I IP I f ""' I E" . I The Cedar Rtpldg Gaette: Sunday. Vov. 22, 1978 3f . ll Once Vital Link, They AH Are Gone Now ELKADER - Little Switzerland, the picturesque northeastern corner of Iowa, was once the center of a now almost forgotten core of a dozen or so covered bridges.;; Hie bridges are all gone now but they had an Integral part In the early development of uoiiopui union in we region. Information on Little Switz- erland's role in Iowa's covered v bridge history was brought to light in the newly-released edition of the book, "Covered Bridges of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin", by .Leslie C. Swanson of Moline, a Midwest historian. -According to the book, most northeast were built in Clay-; ton county, which probably had the second most historic snnna in iha ctatA Anltr MorL ison county in south central Iowa, with a count of 16, had , more covered bridges than Clayton. Bridges Still Remembered The covered bridges in this" area are still well remembered by many of the older residents of Strawberry, Point, Elkader, Volga, Elkport and Littleport, who crossed them frequently in yesteryear. . Most of the dozen or. so bridges were still in existence in the "Roaring Twenties" and some were still being used in the 1930s. Disastrous floods in the 1920s and 1930s took out ;; THIS COVERED BRIDGE spanned the Maquoketa ' river southwest of Strawberry Point, many years ago. Work Ethic Way by Automation and Leisure? IOWA CITY - After centuries of faithful service as a brace for western civilization; la tViA llfvr lSHVitst HnSnit 4a Its. IB um UUUk gUUlg W . shoved out of the way by two upstarts, Automation and Leisure? Two University of Iowa professors, anthropologist Nancie Gonzalez and educational philosopher William Duffy, have different responses' to the implications of society's efforts to decide , whether work is a means to an end or an end in itself. '.; , Professor Gonzalez noted that activities directly, connected to survival may take up less time for an American ..biisipess man than for an Australian bushman, but cautions against the quick conclusion that the business man therefore has more time on his hands. The bushman may in fact be able to attain what he considers "the good life," com-pkte with status and prestige, with a smaller expenditure of time than' the business man, she said. While the Australian native can be content to pass much of bis life in sleep and Idleness, the American native is likely to find that the social norm is to "keep busy," if not at his paying job then in maintenance work on his house and yard, in church and neighborhood activities, and In regularly scheduled sports, and games. Professor Duffy thinks - it will soon be in the realm of technological possibility for 10 percent of the American population to do the work required to support themselves and the rest, and that the leisure produced by this technological triumph is going to test Americans' psychological capacity to "kill lime" in huge amounts. Duffy noted that "western civilization had pressing need ( of the Work Ethic in .the past, when it took 90 percentf the people working as hard as several of the spans while others were simply dismantled to make room for more modern concrete and steel structures. The last of them is believed to have disappeared about 1937. v. According to Swanson's book -there were two covered bridge centers in Iowa, One extended across a tier of several coun- ties in the south central part of the state, generally below .Des Moines, while the other centered in Clayton and nearby counties. A Hub' of Activity When Iowa was admitted as a state in 1846 most of the population was concentrated in the eastern one-third. The cov- ered ; bridge builders moved I westward ; as the population spread across southern Iowa and across the Mississippi river from Galena, III., where lead-producing mines had brought in many settlers. Covered bridge building went into high gear in the post-Civil war period and most of the quaint '' structures were built in the period from 1870 to 1890. Most of the Clayton county bridges were concentrated in the vicinity of the Volga and Turkey rivers. , . .. One of the best known spans was the historic Mederville bridge spanning the Volga river beside an old mill in the town of Mederville. Another was the Turkey river covered bridge at the town of Oster- Being Shoved Out of they could to support themselves and the other 10 percent, but conditions have changed. ; ; ; : ; Grasshopper Fable , "When i conditions ' change, you have to change attitudes," Duffy said.' He thinks . this change ideally could most effectively be made when children are between one and five years old and are first starting to hear the fable of the grasshopper (who fooled around all summer and couldn't survive the . winter) and the ants (who worked all summer and didn't feel very charitable toward the long-legged malingerer). Just what the new ethic should be, and for that matter who should teach it, since the current generations of adults were brought up on the Wort-Ethic, are questions whose answers elude Duffy. Professor Gonzales doubts attitudes can be changed consciously, but said the potential for an evolutionary change in socially approved views on work and leisure should be great in a society which per-mits diversity of life-styles by ' hippies and ethnic groups. Such varieties of living give all citizens a chance to choose for themselves, an option which is not available In totalitarian societies bent on raising the gross national product, ' she said. Duffy, a faculty member in the U. of I. college of educa-. tion, .sees a paradoxical dis- 1 like of technology on the part of young people who are rejecting the Work Ethic. They should realize that machines do society's stultifying labor, which in the case of ancient Greece , was performed ' by slaves and in the case of industrial societies has been done by wageeamers, he said. . He endorsed Aristotle's distinction between "work" (which has a rich result and fulfills the worker) and "ly dock, not far from the Mississippi. ,: ! , Across the Mississippi from Clayton county was the broad Wisconsin river valley, which ' was the locale of the majority of the covered bridges in the Badger state. Among the well remembered Clayton bridges was the span ' on highway 13 between Strawberry Point and Elkader. It spanned the Volga just north . of the town of Osborne. Another span in that general area was a eovered bridge over ' Cox creek, a tributary to the ; Volga and northeast .of Osborne. .,-.,) ". , ;:: y , A covered bridge at Volga ; City was the site of one of the most spectacular accidents in the history of those romantic ' structures. On the night of July 21, 1898, two brothers by the name of J Schuchman' were killed when ) a tractor fell through the floor ; of the bridge. It was reported ' that a sudden surge of power caused the bad wheels to tear out several planks, dropping the heavy machine and its riders onto the river bank close to the north abutment. Another brother escaped by leaping to safety. ' Downstream on the Volga were several other bridges. Two were located over a trib- utary creek close to an old mill at the town of Otisville. One was on the road leading south out to Otisville and one on the road leading west. The latter , bridge was re -;. - . r-n , on County comen road, . - v:. r bor" (which is meaningless drudgery for its own sake, as in the story of Sisyphus, who in Greek mythology was condemned to push the same stone up the same hill for eternity, even though it rolled down every time he reached the top). " Productive Years Professor Gonzalez, who Is chairman of the U. of I. department of anthropology, believes the jobs most likely to be automated out of existence are the drudgery-labor ones connected with goods rather than services. Three of the fastest growing . employment fields today are medicine, education and recreation, which 'offer considerable fulfillment, she said, and automation is likely to make only limited dents in them. . , Duffy pointed out that "the productive years" in a worker's life are' becoming increasingly compressed as people extend their educations before joining the work force, and take advantage of earlier retirement to leave it. ' . One problem presented by this trend will be the population in the 25-55 age range, which may accept the Work Ethic as more palatable than constant leisure for themselves, but may at the same time resent being the sole means of support for the whole society, he said. Duffy would like to see society face the leisure issue rationally,' but concedes that the historical trend is for humanity to "muddle through" without a conscious solution. - Professor Gonzalez believes that one change ' in values which probably will , occur concerns the stigma now associated with accepting public welfare money. Lessening this will be crucial not only for the concept of guaranteed incomes, she said, but for the device of paying persons to stay out of a shrinking job market. moved in 1905 .-and re-assembled about three miles farther south over the same stream. It was damaged in the flood of 1925 and it may have been the last covered bridge in the county when it was dismantled in 1937. The other bridge was alsd wrecked in the disastrous 1925 flood. Railroad Bridges Other .bridges along the Volga included a wagon bridge on the road between Elkport and Littleport and a -Milwaukee railroad . bridge midway between the two towns. The Milwaukee line followed a tortuous course along the twisting Volga river on its route from Turkey River Junction to the town of West Union in Fayette county, 40 miles to "the northwest. It ; crossed, and re-crossed the Volga at several points and it is believed that there , were other covered railroad bridges on the stream. The Milwaukee bridge was damaged in one of the floods which swept through the valley and it was eventually replaced by an open structure, , which was used until the line was abandoned some years ago. Two other bridges . In northeast Iowa spanned the North Fork of the Maqooketa river in Delaware county and the Maqnoketa river proper in Buchanan county. The North Fork bridge was another Milwaukee railroad span on a small spur line near the town of Worthington. It was wiped out in the flood of 1925 and replaced by an open span still in use. The Buchanan county bridge was located on the Maquoketa river south-"West of. Strawberry Point. The flood in 1920 wrecked that structure and part of the remaining material was hauled to Strawberry Point where it was used in the construction of a storage shed for building equipment. Nothing but a few abut--ments remain of the various bridges now. The best preserved abutment is that of the Mederville bridge where the " south walls of the structure still stand in trim alignment. , Part of the' walls of a six-story mill, which stood beside the bridge, are still intact ' Longest, Highest The Mederville bridge was the longest and highest single span bridge in Iowa history. Swanson said the Mederville span may have been the longest such span without center pier support in the entire midwest.,.,.... , ' .,..;.;.,..,: "The Mederville bridge was a spectacular sight, measuring 255 feet across and perched 75 to 80 feet above the. water-line. Adding to the beauty of the scene was a lofty mill, a beautiful waterfall and a boulder strewn canyon. It was built about 1860 and was dismantled in 1918 when a new bridge was erected." The mill at the same spot was reported to have burned ' in 1913. Mederville was a booming little Clayton county town at one time but only a few houses remain there now. The Mederville bridge was a favorite playground for boys of the town in the good old days. Some of them remember how they used to fly across the floor ef the bridge on their sleds. In the wintertime it was necessary to j QUAUTrSOUND xr rr S only sound that wayi j 0 SEEHEAR THIS SYSTEM i C AT WOODBURN'S TODAY 1 KENWOOD KA-2500 ( I I I 1 70WIHF AMPLIFIER I I -sss;J- KLH 1 7 Speakers i 6 BSR7McDonalcl310 X y Record Changer X . , turn aw-Hir Q 4 r 1 THE SPECTACULAR about I860 and dismantled HI, Wry , mm TWO BROTHERS were bridge July 21, 1898. 1 r 7 l r r. YEARS AGO, this covered bridge spanned the Volga spread a thin coating of snow over the flooring so, the sleighs could cross. The boys also had their favorite swimming hole under the bridge. Some of the more daring ones would cross the bridge by going hand over hand on long horizontal support rods which ran the length of the span beneath the flooring. Historians are continuing research into the old, almost forgotten bridges which existed in Little Switzerland or 255 - foot covered bridge at Mederville, over the Volga river in in 1918. At left is the six-story Mederville mill which burned in .. 'L p ixymUmMWT iiv'itP killed when the tractor on which they were riding fell through the Volga City covered other areas. Anyone having information regarding other bridges not mentioned above, particularly railroad covered bridges, : may communicate with Mr. Swanson at P. O. Box 334, Moline, 111. Swanson has made several trips into the area interviewing1 old-timers and he has carried on correspondence with some former residents as far away as Georgia and Montana. Lost items are found fast when you,, use. a "lost and found" want ad. Dial 369-1234. Lrt river, about 7 miles north of Strawberry Point, in Clayton county, IT PAYS TO ADVERTISE - .r..r.. J ." . " Any three Touch-Tone home phones for only 4.75 a month. Pick any three of the five new Touch-Tone phones in the picture. A wall phone. Desk set. Trimline wall or desk model. Or a pretty Princess phone. Pick any color you want Long cords, h? you like. Plus an additional phone book listing for any one person in your family. All of this at one low "package price." Just $4.75 a month. Plus your basic phone service charge. You save money. So call our business offica now. Or ask any telephone man. " IMorthwestern Bell rss y , Clayton county, was erected 1913. in.iinie I

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