Stop bouncing and making the bridge swing! That’s what I remember from childhood when we would walk across the bridge connecting Riverside to Riverside Lawn. It is also why I do not cross the bridge anymore and stay back, which is what I did when the Lions Club held the Scuffy Gross Regatta recently. The bridge doesn’t really “swing” now, but it has a history of its own.
Originally it was built in 1893 by Alexander Watson, a contractor, who owned a large portion of land in the area, with plans for development. The bridge was built, but not without controversy, when Watson won a lawsuit against the village giving him the right to build the bridge. When that bridge was declared obsolete, a second bridge was erected in 1905. Riverside had its suspension bridge long before Brooklyn had its bridge. With the hotel located there, it made a passageway for guests to cross the river to Riverside Lawn or simply enjoy a nice leisurely stroll.
Time passed and a new bridge was built in 1940. The wire cable suspension bridge is 170 feet in length. The contractor was W.J. Howard and the new bridge was named in memory of H. Wallace Caldwell, a Cook County commissioner who died that year. A plaque is affixed at the entry to the bridge on the Riverside side in Caldwell’s honor. With time and the elements taking its toll on the bridge, it was refurbished in 2002 under the direction of Riverside Township. Township Supervisor Gary Wilt was on hand to relate the story of the bridge and its history.
Which brings us to 2018, and the bridge could use a little touch up here and there but it has truly withstood time’s test and served as another point of interest in Riverside.
As I stood on the edge of the bridge that Saturday morning, I was surprised at how much use the bridge was getting — other than those present to view the Regatta. People on bicycles, walkers, runners, some even accompanied by their dogs. I wondered if children still use it as a way to get to school, but with the demise of many of the homes in Riverside Lawn I would guess much of that has changed.
And yes, I could still feel the bouncing of the bridge.
While I thought about it, I held back and did not once say, “Quit bouncing!”