- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - A nonprofit environmental group is focusing its attention on a property that has a concrete structure which supported the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi River.

Workers hired by River Action Inc. cleared trees Monday that were hiding the bridge support from view. The organization wants to use the property to build a pedestrian bridge to the new River Heritage Park, the Quad-City Times reported (https://bit.ly/1rpvERT ).

The railroad bridge officially opened on April 21, 1865, but two weeks later, a steamboat crashed into it, causing one span to burn. Steamboat operators sued the railroad in a series of court cases. Abraham Lincoln defended the railroad in 1857 in one of the more famous ones.

The nonprofit said it will produce a video to explain the history of the bridge. Kathy Wine of River Action said the group hasn’t formed a proposal for the pedestrian bridge yet to take to the city for its approval.

“The reconstruction of the first bridge is something the community can appreciate, as well as visitors researching Lincoln history and reconstruction of bridges,” she said.

Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba said he thinks building a pedestrian passage is a good idea, but believes a design competition among architects would be better than simply recreating the design of the original wooden bridge.

“I don’t want a standard-looking wood bridge,” he said. “Bridges make a statement for a city. We want the best we can get.”

The City Council will likely make the final decision on what to do about the bridge with help from River Action and the city’s Levee Commission, Gluba said.

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Information from: Quad-City Times, https://www.qctimes.com

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