April 24, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
On the evening he started across the North Washington Street Bridge in his car, a Geary County resident approached the middle of the bridge and was about to pass an oncoming truck. The bridge suddenly gave way and he found himself and his car falling downward. The man in the car was Melvin Britt and at that time he lived west of Junction City on Rural Route 3. He was employed by the Harvey brothers’ on their farm, which was north of Fort Riley. The “Daily Union ”newspaper printed a long article on the incident. It was reported that “The bridge span, about 75 feet long, broke entirely free from the two supporting piers and pan-caked into the river about 30 feet below. The accident attracted people to the scene by the hundreds. Within a few minutes the riverbank was lined by scores of watchers as state highway police, sheriff’s officers and others worked to free the body of the truck driver. He was killed instantly when an overhead beam of the falling bridge crushed the truck’s cab. The accident happened so quickly that Melvin Britt only vaguely remembered what happened. He said his car had only a few dents in it, but he was fearful that approaching motorists might not notice the missing span of bridge and would plunge into the river. He made his way across the stream on the fallen span and was able to climb it and onto the end of the bridge. Several cars came up to the bridge to cross it and Mr. Britt and an unidentified man stopped one of them with only a short distance to spare.” It was the second time the North Washington Street Bridge had been disabled in recent years. Fortunately our bridges get inspected and repairs made when possible.