Hoosier Dusty Files - December 19, 1868 - First Bridge Across Wabash at Vincennes Opens

A Year of Indiana History - 2016
A Year of Indiana History - 2016

December 19, 1868 - First Bridge Across Wabash at Vincennes Opens
The first ferry crossing the Wabash River between Lawrence County, Illinois and Vincennes, Indiana began operations in 1805. Eventually two ferries would operate at Vincennes, the Broadway Street ferry and the Main Street ferry. Ferries continued to be the only means of crossing the Wabash. On March 22, 1867, the Vincennes Drawbridge Company entered into a contract with the State of Illinois to build a bridge across the Wabash River. Work began in late 1867. The Vincennes Drawbridge Company completed construction of the bridge in December 1868, the opening date December 19, 1868. With the opening of the bridge, the Main Street ferry closed. The company charged a toll on people crossing the bridge. The tolls rates were:
Vehicles drawn by 4 horses, mules or oxen 50¢
Vehicles drawn by 2 horses, mules or oxen 35¢
Vehicles drawn by 1 horse, mule or oxen 25¢
For each person and horse or mule 15¢
For every person on foot 5¢
For hogs, sheep or calves, led or driven, per head 5¢
For horses, asses or mules, per head 10¢
Not more than 5 head of cattle shall be allowed to cross at once
Many felt that the tolls were excessive and the Broadway Street ferry continued to operate with lower crossing fees. In 1869, the Illinois legislature passed a law banning ferry operations within three miles of a toll bridge to prevent competition between the bridge and the ferry. A tornado caused severe damage in April 19, 1869, damaging two sections on the Indiana side of the river. The ferry resumed operations, in quiet defiance of Illinois law until the workers repaired the bridge in late 1869. The bridge remained in operations until 1932.

Indiana possesses a rich history that is fun to read and learn. This Hoosier Dusty Files is in an easy to read “this day in history format” and includes articles from the author's A Year in Indiana History series. Visitors may read the articles as they appear or purchase the book:
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning