McLEAN COUNTY'S BRIDGE TRAGEDY


| November/December 1968



The collapse of the Silver Bridge at Gallapolis, Ohio, with the loss of many lives, recalled to many McLean countians one bridge collapse in McLean which resulted in the death of a Beech Grove resident.

It happened on a hot July day in 1911.

In those days, there was a large acreage of wheat grown along the Daviess-McLean border. That, of course, was before the days of combines. The wheat was threshed by a bulky machine called a 'separator' (it separated the grain from the straw and husks) or commonly called a 'thresher.' The separator was drawn from farm to farm by a ponderous and slow steam tractor. Then when the thresher arrived at a 'set' where it would operate, the power for the separator was furnished by a belt from the steam engine's pulley.

Hauling the bundles of wheat or rye from the shocks in the field to the thresher set required several wagons and considerable labor. Therefore, the farmers in a neighborhood would have an informal agreement to swap work and help each other at threshing time.

When a thresher man arrived in a neighborhood, he would get to thresh all the grain of the farmers in that neighborhood who were working together.

This system was in operation in the hours that proceeded the event of 57 years ago.