Squaw Creek Bridge Collapse of 1918

After the heavy rains in early June, the area had been under water.  Lincoln Way at that time was gravel.  No one was hurt in the mishap which occurred in early evening of June 28.  Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Goddard (621 Douglas) and their two children had just started across the Lincoln Way Bridge when the flood-weakened bridge collapsed.  The Goddard car hung precariously on the telephone conduit which had been built into the floor, enabling the family to scramble to safety with the help of ropes and ladders.

This bridge had been built by the county in 1908, and the specifications had been altered to save money.  After the collapse, some engineers blamed the disaster on the county engineer and the change from the original design.  Dean Anson Marston of the ISC College of Engineering had called for more materials in the bridge and for what he believed to be a stronger design.  It was 1921 before a new bridge was in place.

Also washed out or damaged because of the spring flooding were the Squaw Creek bridge on South Duff, the Squaw Creek bridge north of campus, the Skunk River bridge on East Lincoln Way, the Skunk River bridge on 13th Street, and a bridge over the Skunk River north of Ames.  View several Farwell Brown Photographic Archive images of those damaged bridges.

Ames Tri-Weekly Tribune, July 1, 1918

E. E. Godard and family, consisting of Mrs. Godard and a baby two years old came as near death as they will ever come and not have the fateful moment at hand.

With the collapse of the Squaw Creek bridge last Friday night they were left suspended high in the air with the wheels of the automobile hanging over the conduit of the Iowa Telephone Company.

As the bridge collapsed and the earth and cement abuttments struck the water, the family was drenched with an awful splash.  But the auto hung to the conduit through it all and when after half an hour, in the perilous position, the family were removed, there was the time to wonder why they lhad not gone to the bottom of the creek, why the wheels with all the heavy weight on them had not given way.

The Godards were returning from a trip they had made out west of the college.  Red lanterns had been set in the highway advising people there was danger ahead.  The north side of the bridge seemed to be perfectly solid and an auto had crossed just ahead of them.

When they were in the center of the west arch of the bridge there was a crumbling and the bottom of the bridge went down carrying with it the auto and the family.  They saw themselves headed for the bed of the creek and the water.  Death seemed to be very near when the auto caught on one of the conduits, which had extended thru the bridge and carried the telephone wires out into the fourth ward, where it hung and turned slowly with the breeze with the expectation that every minute there would be the further toll of accident or death.

Holding as solidly as it did gave time for persons to hurry for ladders and the family was removed from the dangerous position.  Later the automobile was removed when a derrick was brought and damage to the machine will not be over $50.