Welcome to Franklin County, KY History

War Mother's Memorial Bridge


Ruby Laffoon was Governor, Franklin County was beginning to recover from the days of the Great Depression. Laffoon recommended that a second bridge be
constructed to cross the Kentucky river, which would produce a sticking boulevard leading to the capitol.  The state was on a tight budget and construction of
this bridge would hinge on the state's willingness to match government money.  Bridge advocates traveled to Louisville, where the Civil Works Administration
where making plans to distribute grants, to plead their need for a second bridge in Frankfort. Their application was denied, as Laffoon has expected.  In 1934
the legislature authorized construction of a second bridge at St. Clair Street.  On August 31, 1935, Governor Laffoon signed an executive order directing the
Highway Department to proceed with plans for construction.  At this time, Laffoon also submitted an application requesting a grant for almost half the projected
cost of $400,000.   The citizens of Frankfort were overjoyed and celebrated with a parade However, by November construction plan again came to a halt. The
location at St. Clair Street was not suitable for the bridge.  Engineers proposed two other sites, one which might cross between Shelby and Main Street
across from the Old Capital Hotel and the other site between Shelby and Capitol Avenue.  Governor signed a second order for the bridge to span the Kentucky
at Shelby Street.  Residents of Shelby Street opposed the construction at this site. Governor Laffoon was endorsed by the Frankfort Chamber of Commerce,
who expressed their concern to continue construction plans immediately. Construction contracts of over $226,000 had been granted by the State Highway
Department. However, in December, Albert B. Chandler became Kentucky's new Governor, succeeding Laffoon.  Again plans for construction were temporarily
halted.  Chandler ordered $150,000 from the state road fund, which was matched by a federal grant.  He believed the Capital Avenue site was more appropriate
.  After more than five years a bridge at Capital Avenue was officially named the War Mother's Memorial Bridge.  On June, 4, 1938, Mimi Chandler, daughter
of the Governor, cut the white ribbon and opened the memorial bridge to traffic.  This was a day of joy in Frankfort, which was filled with a festive parade,
dedications and speeches.  In his speech, Chandler announced construction would begin in a few days on Capitol Avenue.  Grass medians dividing traffic,
curbs and gutters would be constructed to achieve an attractive panoramic view of the boulevard leading to the Kentucky's state capital.

Horse and Buggy Cross the New Bridge

On Derby Day, after the bridge had been opened, Will Gordon appeared at a small building used for an office by the construction crew.  Harry Johnson, an
engineer on the bridge project saw Gordon with his horse and buggy at the south approach.  Gordon asked Johnson if it would be safe for him to cross the
bridge.  Johnson replied that it would be safe to cross if an automobile didn't hit him.  Gordon posed for the snapshot below, then proceeded across the bridge.

Sources:
Capital on the Kentucky, by Kramer
The State Journal, June 1938

                                            


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