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2001: A yellow flash, a loud boom, and the firstbridge span is down

Hannibal Courier-Post (MO) - Monday, January 8, 2001

Author: MARY LOU MONTGOMERY, Courier-Post Editor

Hundreds of people lined Hannibal's flood levee and riverfront park as dawn replaced darkness Monday morning, to watch the implosion that would bring down the first span of the old Mark Twain Memorial Bridge. The structure took a year to build back in the mid-1930s, but only seconds to take down 65 years later. Cameras clicked and video cameras recorded as a two-minute whistle blew to signal the start of the implosion at approximately 9:15 a.m. Thirty seconds, then a 10-second countdown, and then a boom that shook downtown Hannibal. The blast sent the steel frame of the bridge span crashing down upon the roadway, railroad tracks and earth below. The same boom brought shopkeepers and secretaries outside to share in the moment. A series of yellow flashes, followed by puffs of black smoke. The sound of "whomph," and it was over. Red-faced and shivering eye-witnesses who had waited for nearly two hours in temperatures hovering in the teens turned to walk away. School children and their parents. Senior citizens. Members of the media. City work crews. Men wearing Carhartt jackets and women wrapped in wool coats and scarves. All united as one ­ a collective witness to a major event in Hannibal's history. The event was followed by a traffic jam of sorts ­ as those who came downtown on this brisk Monday morning began making their way back to their normal work routine. The job of cutting up the steel and preparing it for scrap was left to the employees of Anderson Excavation of Omaha, Neb. A community waited long for this moment, and stood together ­ without words ­ to share in the finality.

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