Suspension Bridge Collapse


Covington Journal, Saturday, January 21, 1854, page 3



On Monday evening last at 5 o'clock, the iron bars connecting the cables and the right hand anchor of the Newport and Covington Suspension Bridge, on the Newport side, gave way and the entire structure fell with a tremendous crash into the Licking, a distance of 70 feet!  At the time of the accident there were on the bridge two men, Taylor Kees and Henry Clinkum, on horseback, going from Covington to Newport, and 18 head of cattle, coming from Newport to Covington.  These all fell with the bridge into the river.  Keys was somewhat injured, chiefly internally, but with good medical attendance is doing well.  Clinkum went down on horseback and escaped uninjured!  Four of the cattle were killed.

The bridge in its decent, turned bottom up, twisting the cables as if they had been so many light cords.  The towers were not injured; indeed all the mason work remains perfectly firm.

This splendid structure, which had just been opened to the public was built by Mr. Gray, for the cities of Newport and Covington at a cost of about $75,000.  It was not quite completed and therefore still on the hands of the contractor.  The repairs will cost perhaps fourteen thousand dollars.

The iron, evidently defective, was manufactured in Pittsburgh.  Whether or not it had been sufficiently tested we are unable to say. During all the day there had been a soaking rain, which doubtless had its influence in causing the disaster.  The rules of the Company allowed 25 head of cattle on the bridge-10 in a lot.  Early on the morning after the accident Mr. Gray had a number of men at work clearing away the wreck preparatory to rebuilding.  We trust the cities in settling with Mr. Gray will deal with him as leniently as possible.

There were several narrow escapes in addition to those of the men on the bridge.  The drivers of the cattle stopped a moment on the other side and thus escaped.  A lady resident of Newport had just crossed in her carriage.  Mr. Porter, the toll collector, was leaning against the toll house on this side, watching the approach of the cattle.  The tower roller was forced from its position and fell through the toll house, passing within a foot or two of Mr. Porter's back and crushing every thing in its way.

A generous act in connection with the bridge accident, was performed by one of our citizens.  Jack Harrison seeing Keys struggling in the water, rushed in and rescued the unfortunate man from drowning, took him to his house and had his wants properly attended too.

Clinkum says that as the bridge gave way his mare made a spring, clearing the falling mass and landing 40 feet below on the bottom of the river.  Rider and horse rose to the surface together, the rider getting out on one shore and the horse on the other.  Clinkum says he wont take a thousand dollars for that mare.


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