Black Hawk Bridge in its final legs of service
A fond farewell to the ‘singing bridge’
By Jennifer Bissell
Top-The construction of the Black Hawk Bridge began in January of 1930 and was ready for use in May of 1931. Pictured above Lois Ann Schaffer and Virginia Dempsey stand on either side of the bridge holding ribbons. Senator S. W. Brookhart of Iowa and L. J. Markwardt of Wisconsin tied the ribbons, officially opening the bridge. (submitted photos)|| 563-382-4221 |

Present day Black Hawk Bridge and the town of Lansing. (Driftless Multimedia photo by Samantha Ludeking)

Remembering the connections and dreams of 90 years of history

Ninety years ago, Lansing was the talk of the tri-state area. Thanks to the vision of two locals, Lansing and all of Allamakee County hosted a four-day celebration tion and grand opening in June of 1931 to mark the completion of the Black Hawk Bridge, spanning the Mississippi River into Wisconsin.

Today, the infamous bridge is in its final legs of service.

Recently the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) and Wisconsin DOT held several listening sessions to display plans for replacing the historic bridge, with a goal to have a new bridge in place in the next five years.

Humble beginnings

It began with an idea from J. P. Conway and Tom Bakewell. In 1898, the two men asked what they could do to better in Lansing. That’s when Bakewell said, “I want to see a bridge across the Mississippi here.”

It took years to put that dream into action, but by 1914, a committee was formed, and the Interstate Bridge Company was incorporated. A charter for the project was created in 1916, which was turned over to the Iowa-Wisconsin Bridge Company in 1929. From there, Melvin B. Stone from Minneapolis was hired as the chief engineer and designer of the bridge, while J. N. Gilbert of


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