A piece of Platte County history has been re-memorialized with the installation of a marker at the site of the old Noah’s Ark covered bridge located northeast of Platte City.
Last month, a group gathered at the old bridge to reminisce and take a photo of the newly-replaced sign.
Built in 1868 over the Little Platte River just south of Ridgely, the bridge was named after Platte County judge Noah Beery. It served the local community for 90 years until it was replaced in 1959 with the construction of a new bridge. The covered bridge was preserved and a monument erected shortly after. During a 1962 dedication ceremony, the grandson of a man who used oxen to haul the oak timbers to the original construction site and two nearby octogenarian residents who lived by the bridge all their lives were present to share their memories.
Unfortunately, just a few years later in 1965 flood waters swept both the bridge and memorial downstream. While a portion of the bridge was saved and put on display at the Platte County Fairgrounds in Tracy, the original memorial was lost. In time, the bridge itself burned.
Another memorial was erected, paid for through funds raised by a memorial committee, but it was knocked over and the supports damaged beyond repair during work on the current bridge.
Bill Hillix and Shirley Kimsey took the lead early this year to co-chair a committee to re-install the marker at the site. Through cooperation among the committee, Platte County Historical Society and Platte County Parks and Recreation, grant funding was secured to replace the old metal legs with a new post.
The dedication was held Friday, Sept. 14 at the site, near the intersection of Highway B and Covered Bridge Road, with about a dozen in attendance, including Beery’s descendents.
Hillix and Kimsey thanked Eric Carter of Plattsburg for his work to replace the legs and Bub Miller and Mark Edmonds, who dug the hole and set the memorial post in concrete. The committee also thanked the Platte County Commission, including second district commissioner John Elliott who attended the dedication, and honorary photographer Sgt. Greg Crader.
“I remember going across that bridge,” said Kimsey, who grew up on a farm outside Edgerton. “You had to lead the mules or horses across separately because the sound (from the wooden planks) would spook them. We would have to walk across it and then get back in the cart on the other side.”
The Noah’s Ark bridge revolutionized travel in rural Platte County for generations, and as Kimsey said, hopefully this will be the last time the memorial to remember this unique bridge needs to be replaced.