Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, September 20, 1989
Dickie’s Folly still stands today. Now, what is “Dickie’s Folly?” it is the nickname for the E. Cass St. bridge which passes over the Kalamazoo River, just east of the downtown business section. This bridge was built in 1896 amidst controversy, during the mayorship of Albion College professor (and later president) Samuel Dickie (1851-1925).
When the bridge was being constructed in1896, workers found quicksand in the area and the mayor had ordered an extra $4000 spent to reinforce the pilings. Dickie’s action at the time created much public outcry as a waste of taxpayer’s money.
In March of 1908, Albion experienced the worst flood in its history, which caused thousands of dollars in damage. The month of February that year produced over 60 inches of snow, followed by a heat wave and heavy rains during the first week of March. The water on the Kalamazoo River rose to record levels, and the Homer dam burst, sending an additional five foot wave of water and ice chunks headed towards Albion. As a result, all of Albion’s bridges were either destroyed or damaged – all except the Cass St. bridge, “Dickie’s Folly.” Dickie then received apologies and congratulations from city-folk for his wise investment of a decade earlier.
From the archives this week we present the classic photograph of the Cass St. bridge looking east towards Albion college. It shows the water up to the top arch of the bridge. This is a morning photograph; during the preceding night, the water actually rose 1 foot ABOVE the road over the bridge!
The Superior St. bridge, on the other hand, collapsed almost totally, and with it went several buildings on main street. Dickies Folly, however, remains today and in several years will have served the wagons, buggies, pedestrians, and automobiles of Albion for one hundred years.
Cass Street Bridge during 1908 Flood
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic