Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Crittenden County's Second Covered Bridge - The Irma Covered Bridge


 Crittenden County's only other covered bridge was located at Irma and spanned Coefield Creek.  It was located on the Irma-Salem road or S.R. 723, 2.5 miles south of Irma.  

In 2013 I talked with Carol and Margaret Croft, who lived on the Carol Croft Road off of S.R. 723.  Mr. Croft has since passed away, but I'll always be grateful to him for sharing his memories with me.  

They also shared this wonderful one-of-its-kind picture with me.  The boys on the bicycles are Jesse and Harry Porter.  I believe this may be the only picture available of this old covered bridge.

Mr. Croft told me the covered bridge was rather large, and it was about the length of four cars. He told me that he remembered when he was about 9 or 10, in 1936-37, that he and the Porter boys, Jess and Harry, would climb in the rafters of the bridge and when the Pepsi truck would pass through on its round from the Lewis Croft Store going to the store at Irma, they would grab them a Pepsi. As the truck would go through the bridge and exit out the other side there was a high spot on the road that made the back of the truck rise up in the air as it cleared the bridge. What a special treat for these 3 young boys, as it must have been a quite an adventure as they waited until just the right time to grab their prize drink. 


He also remembered another time he and his brother were loading loose hay on their wagon to take to their barn on the Raleigh Rd. (now the Carol Croft Rd.) and wanting to get through faster, they overloaded the hay wagon by piling the hay too high, as the too-high-piled wagon exited the covered bridge over the rise, the hay was caught by the rafters and pulled off the wagon. He smiled and said it took them longer to reload it than it would have to made two trips.


I'm sure the old covered bridge would have many stories to tell us if it was still here and could talk. I not only got to enjoy these wonderful memories and history of the old covered bridge, but Mr. and Mrs. Croft shared some other pieces of history of the area with me. Mr. Croft said me the area around where the old bridge was located was called Porterville, because of all the Porter families living there. Mrs. Croft showed me the old Liberty Grove Christian Church that you could see from their home. It is now a family dwelling. She remembers attending church there, and the revivals, homecomings and dinners on home-made tables underneath the trees. But like so many of the country churches it had to close its doors due to lack of membership and lack of interest.


The old covered bridge had gotten in really bad condition and was torn down in the 1950's as the new concrete bridge that was constructed down stream was built and ready for use in 1959.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Happenings in January 1923, 100 years ago

 Let's take a trip back in our past history 100 years ago, to the beginning of the new year in January 1923. From the archives of The Crittenden Press we find these interesting headlines.


Court House News

Owing to the very favorable weather the January meeting of the County Court drew a big crowd from all sections of the county.

The examining trail of George Rushing charged with shooting Eugene Travis Friday night of last week was held before County Judge E. Jeffrey Travis and he was held under a $1500 bond for his appearance before the grand jury at the next term of Circuit County.

George Rushing plead guilty to the charge of carrying concealed deadly weapon and was given a fine of $50 by the court.

The will of the late Maurie Y. Nunn was filed for probate. Dr. Frederick W. Nunn was made administrator of the estate and the children of the deceased were made beneficiaries.


Pool Tobacco House Opens

The tobacco warehouse of the Dark Tobacco Growers Co-operative Association near the Illinois Central Station opened Thursday for receiving crops of members of the Association. Mr. Sidney T. Dupuy is general manager and Mr. Henry K. Woods is bookkeeper.

In order to avoid a rush and to facilitate the handling of the tobacco this management requires that before a member delivers his crop he first comes and registers and have a date fixed to make the delivery. Enough crops have already been registered for delivery to occupy Thursday, Friday and Monday.


Railway Agent Makes Report

During the calendar year there were received at Marion depot, 233 carloads of coal, or approximately 11,000 tons. There was shipped from Marion during the year, 64,439,915 pounds of fluorspar, or approximately 32,200 tons. This required approximately 800 cars to move these shipments. I am sure that everyone living in Marion wants Marion to stand at the front at all times and you can do your part of keeping the Marion depot up to the standard of I. C. stations by purchasing Round Trip Tickets when you start on a journey. Revenue is what it takes to keep a railroad office up to the standard and by purchasing round trip tickets you help increase our station's revenue and keep us at the front.


Eastern Capital Invest in Crittenden County Mine.

Big deals have just been consummated and are announced by A. A. Northern of Hopkinsville, president of the Kentucky Fluor Spar Company, of this county, whereby practically unlimited outside capital has become interested.

The Kentucky Fluorspar Company was the first to begin the production of fluorspar on a commercial basis in Kentucky, 20 years ago. It is the third largest producer of fluorspar in the United States and the second largest producer of ground fluorspar and the only producer of ground spar in Kentucky.

Its activities have been handicapped for lack of adequate finances. Just last week a deal was closed whereby strong financial interest in Illinois, who are associated with eastern capitalists, became permanently interested in the holdings. The Kentucky Fluorspar Company owns and controls twelve properties, the largest single assembly of similar properties in the world.

Not only have the Illinois interests become associated with this company now, but an option to purchase out right has been given on four of the chief properties to one of the subsidiaries of the steel corporation. This is a six months option and it is believed the holders will close it, and this means the direct interest of the steel companies in the spar producing filed.

The purchase price under this option is reported as being half a million dollars. With the securing of this outside capital the fluorspar industry in Kentucky is expected to come really into is own for the first time.


Measles Epidemic Covers County

From reports coming in it appears that Crittenden county is now in the grip of the worst epidemic of measles that has ever visited this part of the state. No community in any section of the county is exempt from the disease and physicians report a very busy time.

County Superintendent J. L. F. Paris reports that the epidemic has played havoc with the attendance at all the schools, especially of the rural schools, and that while there has been no official closing authorized, a number of teachers have closed their schools for want of attendance. While the attendance of the city schools has fallen off on account of the disease, the effect has not been so appreciable as in those of the county districts.

A few cases of influenza, many cases of grip, and severe colds are also reported.


Bells Mines Now Scene of Activity

These old hills covered with boulders, black jack and oak, all but abandoned farms, indeed the old tramway used for getting coal to the river in the days of Robert E. Lee and the Natchez, are now covered for miles with scores of busy men, teamsters, engineers, machinists, electricians, miners, carpenters, a center of industry has sprung into being within the year and a good sized town of at least twenty dwellings are cozily housing men and their families who are reaping the reward of industry, taking a fortune from the treasure cove of the earth.

It seems impossible that all of this could be accomplished in a year and without steam or even a passable country road. Nevertheless it is true and nothing but a visit to the works of the Bell Coal and Navigation Company will make the size of the accomplishment comprehensible. It is stupendous. It is remarkable and every scrape of the hundreds of tons of massive machinery and equipment has gone through Sturgis and one out on the muddy trail.

Four men have always believed in the possibilities of this coal pile. One of them, Col. Scott, has passed on to his heavenly reward, but not until he saw the work started in fulfillment of his dream. Clarence Wilson of Sturgis has worked for years to get the mine in operation. W. K. Kavanaugh of St. Louis has long been a believer and was finally the angel to come with the fortune necessary to complete development.

Last but not least, through it all we have seen the patient smile, at time almost sad smile, but always a smile, of Superintendent Herbert. "Old, Man" Herbert the others call him when he is absent, but his reference has more to do with his position as daddy of the works than as referring to his age.

As a result of all of this belief and constant endeavor, three mines are producing coal, steel barges are taking it to market, doing all they can to supply the trade, while the work of development and new construction is going doggedly forward.


J. N. Boston and Sons

Located in Marion is a modern and up to date building material company that has aided greatly in the development of Crittenden County. Their buying power enables this concern to go into the largest markets and secure large quantities which are offered at reasonable prices. Their mill work is un-excelled and their business is built upon years of good service.


These are a few of the important things going on in our county at this time 100 years ago.