Part of city’s history found in farm shed

By Joyce Moran

Like dinosaur bones, bits of history are still out there. Perhaps they’re buried, hidden in an attic or, with their value unknown, put to a practical use yet today.

Such was the fate of the cast-iron plaque that once adorned the bridge that connected west and east Little Falls between 1902 and 1942. For years the plaque had been used as a table top in a shed owned by Peter Perleberg who farmed three and a half miles west of Buckman.

“About 50 or 60 years ago, they were doing some construction at the courthouse,” explained Irene Brogdon, daughter of Perleberg. “They were just throwing things out. The janitor then, Matt Thomas, retrieved this large metal plate and gave it to my dad. Well, he put some legs on it and put it out in the workshop. He used it for fixing things and welding.”

A couple of weeks ago, Brogdon thought she had better tip the table over and get a better look at its underside. “I was surprised to see the date on it,” she said. “I thought I had better check it out what with the Sesquicentennial and all.”

Brogdon first called the Morrison County Historical Society. Staff there referred her to the City of Little Falls where staff quickly cleaned the plaque up and researched its history.

As can be determined, there was a walking bridge that spanned the Mississippi in the late 1800s. Then, in January, 1902, the city council passed a resolution calling for the construction of “a grade bridge 24 feet wide with a sidewalk on each side of from six feet to eight feet in width.” Permission for the construction was then obtained from the Secretary of War. Awarded the bid for the construction was Mecusker and Harrison. The company’s bid was $28,722. The bridge was located just north of the present bridge. It was torn down when the present bridge was completed in 1942.

“I’m just glad something will become of the plaque,” concluded Brogdon who still lives on her father’s farm with her brother Gerald Perleberg and sister Jeanette Perleberg. The farm will become a Century Farm in 2008.

The city has not yet determined what it will do with the plaque.

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