This is the thirteenth post in a multi-part series on the Municipal Bridge Vision.
After posting our research regarding the Municipal Bridge Vision and the 1928-1929 construction period, we received a number of comments about possible fulfillments of this vision in 1936-1938. We had already done some research on this and were preparing to present our findings when one reader made us aware of the existence of the official log books of the Coast Guard Life Saving Station #10 in Louisville at the National Archives. This reader was insistent that these log books would point to a construction event related to the bridge in 1936 and would contain documented evidence of sixteen men falling to their deaths. You can read more about why we were so interested in these logs here.
For anyone who is interested in reviewing the log books for themselves, we’ve photographed over 8,000 pages from these log books covering the entire period from May 1, 1928 to January 1, 1940. These photos were posted to our Facebook page a few days ago, organized in albums in chronological order. Below are links to all of the photo albums.
|May 1, 1928 - June 30, 1928|
|July 1, 1928 - December 31, 1928|
|Jan 1, 1929 - June 30, 1929|
|July 1, 1929 - December 31, 1929|
|January 1, 1930 - June 30, 1930|
|July 1, 1930 - December 31, 1930|
|January 1, 1931 - June 30, 1931|
|July 1, 1931 - December 31, 1931|
|January 1, 1932 - June 30, 1932|
|July 1, 1932 - December 31, 1932|
|January 1, 1933 - June 30, 1933|
|July 1, 1933 - December 31, 1933|
|January 1, 1934 - June 30, 1934|
|July 1, 1934 - December 31, 1934|
|January 1, 1935 - June 30, 1935|
|July 1, 1935 - December 31, 1935|
|January 1, 1936 - June 30, 1936|
|July 1, 1936 - December 31, 1936|
|January 1, 1937 - June 15, 1937|
|June 16, 1937 - November 20, 1937|
|November 21, 1937 - May 9, 1938|
|May 10, 1938 - October 21, 1938|
|October 22, 1938 - March 31, 1939|
|April 1, 1939 - September 10, 1939|
|September 11, 1939 - January 1, 1940|
Each day the log contained the wind direction, force, barometric pressure, temperature, and surf conditions. These all had to be recorded at 4 AM, 8 AM, Noon, 4 PM, 8 PM, and Midnight. The log also records the number and types of ships that passed. It appears that the main types tracked were steamers and barges in tow. The station ran a regular lookout schedule which was recorded every two hours. Absences for vacation or sick leave were recorded. The log includes any drills held as well as a count of vessel boardings, inspections, and most importantly, the cases of assistance and number of lives saved. Finally, the second page of the daily log included a record of miscellaneous events of the day, recorded in chronological order. The log was signed by the officer in charge at the end of each day.
We’ve reviewed all of these logs and found that the Coast Guard Station ran a lookout twenty-four hours per day, every day of the year. The logs contain information about all distress calls, cases of assistance, and even mundane events at the station, like painting the kitchen, or buying groceries to supplement rations. The log contained accounts of drownings, body recoveries, suicide attempts, aiding prohibition agents in executing searches on remote islands, etc. There were heart-wrenching entries about young children drowning and Coast Guard personnel administering resuscitation for up to 90 minutes in a failed attempts to save young lives. The log covered capsized boats, mechanical problems, cars crashing into the river, saving unsuspecting canoeists headed for the peril of the falls, and even records of recovering a little boy’s lost bicycle that ended up in the river.
The Coast Guard station was located a few hundred yards from the Municipal Bridge and ran a constant lookout. There’s no record of any accident where sixteen men fell from the bridge to their deaths and drowned.
There’s also no evidence of construction in 1936 as was suggested by one reader.