This “swinger” over the Osage at Brown’s Ford was built between 1912 and 1915 by E.A. Bledsoe and Ira Alspach, who also built the suspension bridge at Monegaw Springs.
On June 21, 1940, the aging Brown’s Ford suspension bridge collapsed. The bridge went down as Mr. Bledsoe and others were working to repair it. E.A. Bledsoe, who had designed and built the structure almost 30 years before, died on his bridge.
On the back of a press photo of the bridge wreckage is the brief account published in the “Times” (no other attribution) on June 22, 1940:
“Looking toward the east side of the Osage River, this picture shows the wreckage of the Brown Ford bridge, an old 1-way structure 6 miles east of Lowry City, Mo., after timbers under one of its suspension cables on the west band about 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon. Two workmen and a bystander were killed. Lloyd Allen Snyder, 8 years old, was last seen in the center of the fallen structure and was believed to have drowned. Three workmen were injured critically. All were either on or near the cribbing when it slipped.”
The St. Clair Democrat, June 27, 1940, carried on page 1 a much more detailed account of the event: TRAGIC ACCIDENT TAKES TOLL OF FIVE LIVES. The article (posted on www.bridgehunter.com) identifies the others who died as two workers and two boys who had been watching them:
ST. CLAIR COUNTY DEMOCRAT, Thursday, June 27, 1940:
One of the most tragic accidents in the history of the county occurred Friday evening when the cribbing supporting one of the piers on the west end of the Brown’s Ford bridge collapsed causing the suspension cable to give way, taking the lives of five people, three men and two boys. Three others were injured.
The dead were E.A. Bledsoe, who had charge of the repairing of the bridge; Claude Terry, 45, a workman; Robert Shaw, 18, another workman; George T. Randall, 16, a bystander; and Lloyd Allen Snyder, 12, who fell in the river when the bridge collapsed.