A Span of Many Memories ...

The Black Hawk Bridge memory printed below was submitted by Marsha Garrett Kurth of La Crosse, WI. The story is about her grandmother, Rita Garrett, who was a lifelong resident of Lansing. She and her husband, Roy Garrett, owned the Lansing Hotel and Garrett’s Corner Cafe. Their three sons still live in Lansing.

Grandma Rita, a practical woman with a heart as big as her laughter, lived in the river town of Lansing. Most afternoons, she would take Uncle Tom’s black lab, Pepper, for a walk beside the hotel along the Mississippi River. Little did she know that one particular stroll would become a tale told and retold at family gatherings for years to come.

On that fateful afternoon, the sun bathed the river town in a warm golden glow as Grandma Rita, with her hair freshly done at the beauty shop, and Pepper meandered along the riverside path behind the hotel. The Black Hawk Bridge above them stretched across the Mississippi River, connecting Iowa with Wisconsin. It was a peaceful day, and the duo enjoyed the serene beauty of the river and the gentle rustling of leaves in the trees.

As they approached the midpoint behind the hotel, a distant rumble caught Grandma Rita’s attention. The sound grew louder, and she squinted up at the Black Hawk Bridge as she knew the source. A massive semi-truck was making its way across the bridge, its cargo of squealing pigs creating a symphony of oinks and grunts.

Grandma Rita chuckled, marveling at the peculiar scene unfolding above. She had seen trucks carrying livestock before, but the timing of this encounter would prove to be far more memorable than any she had experienced.

Just as the semi reached the midpoint of the bridge, so did she, the constant rattling caused by the singing bridge’s platform seemed to agitate the cargo of squealing pigs. In response, the pigs began to release their unexpected payload, showering the world below with an unforeseen rain of pig manure.

Gasping, Grandma Rita found herself at the epicenter of this unexpected deluge, her freshly styled hair now adorned with bits of straw and piggy byproducts. Pepper, normally exuberant and full of energy, cowered beside her, his ears pressed against his head as the piggy precipitation continued and he too experienced an unexpected shower.

Shock, a little anger, and then laughter bubbled up from Grandma Rita, a hearty, contagious sound that echoed along the banks of the Mississippi River. She wiped a streak of pig manure from her cheek, unable to contain her amusement at the absurdity of the situation. Passersby on the trail, witnessing the spectacle, couldn’t help but join in the laughter.

With a twinkle in her eye, Grandma Rita looked up at the bridge, where the semi had rumbled away, leaving behind a trail of laughter and an indelible memory.

“Well, Pepper,” she chuckled, patting the now-slightly-messy black lab, “looks like we’ve got a story to tell the family tonight.”

And tell it she did, turning an ordinary afternoon walk into a legendary family tale that would be shared and cherished for generations to come. The day Grandma Rita, with her freshly done hair and faithful companion Pepper by her side, was showered with pig manure under the Black Hawk Bridge along the Mississippi River in the river town of Lansing became a cherished part of family lore, a reminder that even unexpected moments can bring joy and laughter along the majestic riverbanks.

Share stories and memories about the Black Hawk Bridge

With construction underway of the new bridge replacing the historic Black Hawk Bridge at Lansing, The Standard newspaper invites anyone to share their stories, sentiments and memories of the Black Hawk Bridge for printing under the “Span of Memories” column header above. Email those items to news@waukonstandard.com, mail them to The Standard, P.O. Box 286, Waukon, IA 52172, or bring them into The Standard newspaper office located at 15 First Street in Waukon to be considered for publication. Submissions should include the name of the individual submitting the item and their town of current residence for publication, and a telephone number for possible further contact.