1935 Peru Centennial May 25-26 1935 info
PONTOON BRIDGES--McCormick, Maze
One of Peru's biggest needs was a bridge across the river and a good road over the bottoms. Sometime between 1855 and 1860, as nearly as it can be placed Captain McCormick undertook to do something about this. He built a pontoon bridge on two flatboats, spanning the river about two blocks below the present bridge. The piers to which it was fastened are still there, though they are beginning to break up. This bridge, on which, of course, toll was collected, was very accommodating. When river traffic needed to pass, the south end of the bridge would be cast loose, the current would swing the southern flatboat around to the north bank, and allow the boat to pass, after which a cable wound on a windlass would pull the bridge back into position.
Sometime after Mr. McCormick constructed his bridge, Mr. Samuel Maze built a second bridge, on eight or ten pontoons, with railings along the sides, near the foot of Plain Street.
From the time of our first settler, crossing the river had been a problem. After the Hays Ferry, three others appear to have existed at different times. One was operated by a man named Blackman, opposite the present Maze Lumber Yard. Another was run by William Barlow, just east of the City Scales. The merchants and grain dealers operated a free ferry in much the same location.
JOHN BARRON'S COLUMN, LA SALLE NEWS TRIBUNE, JANUARY 7, 1972
Ferries were used before the Peru Swing Bridge was built until Capt J. L. McCormick built his floating pontoon bridge at the foot of White Street (now Fulton St). That bridge was made up of two barges fastened together between heavy stone abutments on each side. The bridge was operated by a sunken cable attached to a windlass which allowed the pontoons to swing downriver with the current, one end remaining fastened to the abutment. After a boat cleared, the windlass drew up the cable and pulled the pontoons back across the river. McCormick charged a nickel for a passenger on foot, a dime for a man on horseback, sheep and pigs 3 cents each.