Public Domain: Published Prior to 1923
BH Photo #252009
There was an air of death around an old railroad bridge across the Des Moines River near Bellefountaine Saturday afternoon. Silent, grim faced workmen cleaned up debris where one end of the bridge had fallen off its concrete pier, crushed one workman to death and injured another.
Boyd A. Morgan of Harvey, the injured man, said he and Sam Smotherman 40, Chicago negro, were working atop the East concrete pier of the bridge about 12:30 p.m. Smotherman was cutting a huge I beam with an acetylene torch and Morgan stood on a nearby beam.
Suddenly without apparent reason, the East end of the bridge gave way and plunged 30 feet into the river. Smotherman was crushed under the I beam and almost cut in two. He died instantly.
Morgan was hurled to the ground. Fortunately none of the debris fell on him. He escaped with a few cuts and bruises.
The J. J. Wrecking Company of Chicago was the firm wrecking the old M. and St. L. Bridge. The West span had already been removed and the crew was working on the East span, the one that directly crossed the Des Moines River. It is located about one mile South of the Bellefountaine highway bridge.
It had been many years since trains ran across the bridge.
Several months after the accident a wrecking crew from Des Moines finished dismantling the bridge.