THRESHING MACHINES WERE 'DANG BRIDGE BUSTERS'


| January/February 1964



Wheat train

Here is a picture of a wheat train as it was leaving Rudyard, Montana in early homestead days, about 1915.

Route 3, Sterling, Illinois

This article appeared in the Mt. Vernon Register News, Mt. Vernon, Illinois and was written by Mr. Addison Hapeman of Woodlawn, Illinois.

While the wheat growers were congratulating one another on the case and speed of threshing with the new steam engines, and the thresher man was glorying in his new possession, there was at least one man in every community who was very dissatisfied with the onrush of the world toward mechanization. He was the road commissioner, the man who was responsible for the bridges in the township.

Small boys may have stood about in awe, drinking in every word of the thresher man, and vowing that if they couldn't be locomotive engineers when they grew up; they would at least own a threshing engine. But to the bridge builder, these cast iron behemoths, snorting sparks and scaring horses were just 'them dang bridge busters.'

The bridges of those days were not the product of a corps of engineers and their slide rules, with strains and stresses carefully plotted against all future needs. There were rather, the outcome of experience with the loads that could be piled on an old Weber or Stud baker wood wheeled wagon, and were designed by the simple rule of 'Heck fire, them posts ought to up anything, but may be you better saw the next ones a inch bigger.'

So when the steam engine weighing several tons, began to lumber down the country roads, it left a trail of squashed culverts and shaky bridges behind it. Flattening these culverts caused only another bump in the swaying progress of the outfit, but if a sizeable bridge collapsed under the engine, then there was indeed the devil to pay.