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Preserving the Katy Bridge

The Katy Bridge in Boonville, was built in 1931 to 1932 as “MKT Bridge No. 191.1” by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. It replaced a much lighter bridge that was built in 1873. Of course, it’s no longer in use by the railroad, but that isn’t stopping a number of people wanting to preserve the bridge for the sake of history.

Sarah Gallagher of the Katy Bridge Coalition, Inc. joins me on “This Week” to explain what this bridge means to some people in the community.

Sarah Gallagher: Well, it’s an icon. It is. We call it the Crown Jewel of the Katy Trail. It is the natural crossing of the MKT Rail line, or railbed as it were, for the Katy Trail and, of course, the Katy Trail is very important to the economy in the State of Missouri. We consider it to be a wonderful engineering work of art really.

Joey Parker: It is right now, solely, a work of art because it’s not in service. It started in service in the early 1900s and the last train, as I remarked, went through in Ronald Reagan’s second term.

Gallagher: Right, 1986.

Parker: That’s it, no train since then. So what’s so important about saving it.

Gallagher: Well, it’s important first of all because it’s in our backyard, and for Boonville people that have grown up around there it has been, you know just a magical source of photography and joy just to look at it, you know for all these years. And it’s, as I said it’s an engineering wonder. It was the first bridge of its kind, the first lift-span, longest lift-span bridge built at that time. And there are many things that are used on lift-span bridges today that are on that bridge, that were prototyped on that bridge. So, it’s a wonderful structure and it’s going to be, it’s going to be something that we can pass down for generations. It’s got lots and lots of years of life. It has 86 years of rail-life left on it, so that’s how long it could be for the katy trail, probably twice that time.

Parker: It’s been a bit of a political football in some ways. Some people say get rid of it, don’t put another dime toward the maintenance of this thing. What do you say to those people?

Gallagher: Well, I say to those people, for one thing we have not asked for really any tax dollars for it. We’re raising the money privately, is one thing. For another thing, you know, you don’t get a second change at some of these iconic structures that are being torn down today. So once something goes you don’t even get it back. So we have been, we that have been working on the Katy Bridge coalition from its inception 10 years ago, we celebrated our 10th anniversary, we saw the need to preserve something that was an integral part of not only Boonville, but of the economic development of the west because it really had a lot to do with commerce in this part of the country.

Parker: And speaking of commerce, you guys are doing things bigger than just bake sales to try to keep this thing alive.

Gallagher: Oh, yeah.

Parker: You have a Kickstarter campaign?

Gallagher: We have a Kickstarter campaign we are very excited about. Missouri Life Magazine was a part of putting that together for us. It’s a lovely thing, is the place to go to see the video that really tells the story of why it’s important. It tells the story in a minute and 43 seconds, why it’s important to us. The Kickstarter was a way for us to also introduce the project on social media. We realize, those of us that have worked on it for a long time realize that are going to use that bridge are people that are coming up in a social media bent. They’re the ones interested in social media so that’s how to get to them.

Parker: I logged in, $7,000 and change I believe, and even now today I noticed, refreshed it and it was more than $12,000. How’d that happen so quickly?

Gallagher: Well, the Boonville Rotary Club, it’s just wonderful of them, they had, were looking for a marque project. They had some extra money and so they were looking for something that they could be a part of for a long time. So we have designated them as part of a project we’re calling guardians of the bridge, and so they will have that as a project for Rotarians for years and years and years to come.

Parker: Well, that’s good of them. Thank you, Sarah, very much for joining us and good luck to you on the project, ok?.

Gallagher: Oh, thank you so much. Thank you very much for having us.

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