Going to La Crosse

Several times a year our family would go to La Crosse. That was a big adventure for me when I was a little kid. We would pile into the car, head out past the Oak Grove Ridge school, and drop down into the Kettle Hollow valley. When we hit State Highway 35, known as the Great River Road, we could view the wide Mississippi River. Turn right, and the first town we hit was Ferryville.

Ferryville was perched between the Mississippi River and the bluff. Main Street seemed to be its the only street, which was Highway 35. A good portion of the “main drag” afforded a spectacular view of the river looking toward the west.

A mile north of Ferryville was a quarter mile of straight highway. Rush Creek came out of the hills of northwestern Crawford County and ran alongside Highway 35. Rush Creek turned sharply right, passed under a highway bridge, and emptied into the Mississippi River.

Several weeks earlier, a car went off the highway, hit a tree, and landed upside down in the water. Two men drowned. Dad heard about it on the radio news. He showed us where the bark was rubbed off the tree. We looked for the car, but it had been pulled out of Rush Creek some days earlier.

A few miles north of Ferryville was the Highway 82 bridge that crossed from Wisconsin to Iowa. Crawford County was on the eastern side of the bridge, and Lansing, Iowa, was on the western side. It was the only bridge that crossed the Mississippi River between La Crosse and Prairie du Chien.

There was no bridge there when I was younger. Dad said that the eastern part of the bridge had been knocked out by an ice floe in 1945. The western bridge was the high, steel cantilevered Blackhawk Bridge that allowed river traffic to pass beneath it.



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