THE ROOSTER BRIDGE Historical Marker at the US Hwy 80/Tombigbee River Bridge

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Rooster Bridge (built “to bridge the ‘Bigbee with cocks”)

The old Rooster Bridge was located across the Tombigbee River approximately 11 miles southwest of Demopolis, AL. It opened for traffic in 1925 to serve traffic on the Dixie Overland Highway, now U. S. Highway 80, and was built using money raised from a public auction of roosters donated by famous personalities. The old Rooster Bridge was demolished in 1980 after being replaced by a new bridge located a short distance up river. Shown is “The Rooster Bridge” historical marker which is located near the west end of the new river bridge.

Following is the inscription of the marker:

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The Rooster Bridge.

In 1919 a rooster sale organized by Frank Derby raised money to begin construction of a bridge over the Tombigbee River at Moscow Ferry. This was the last link in the completion of the Dixie Overland Highway between Savannah and San Diego. The idea was “to bridge the ‘Bigbee with cocks”: Roosters would be solicited from world-famous persons and an auction and barbeque held in the city of Demopolis for the benefit of the bridge. Congressmen “Buck” Oliver, Admiral William S. Benson, and Secretary of Navy Josephus Daniels helped sell President Wilson on the idea. He and the others of the Big Four, Lloyd George, Clemenceau, and Orlando, who were meeting at the Versailles Conference, shipped roosters on the USS Northern Pacific. Governor Kilby sent 27 prominent Alabamians to the White House to receive the roosters from President Wilson. By August 14, 1919, 600 roosters (and one hen from Helen Keller) had arrived in Demopolis. President Wilson’s rooster auctioned for $44,000. Over $200,000 was pledged, but most was not collected. The names of 88 donors appear on markers at the original site one mile downstream. With the addition of state and federal funds the bridge was constructed and opened in 1925 as Memorial Bridge. Always known locally as Rooster Bridge, the name was officially changed in 1959 when a bill sponsored by Sen. E. O. Eddins passed the State Legislature. In July, 1971, a bill sponsored by State Representatives I. D. Pruitt and R. S. Manley was approved, which decreed that all future bridges over the Tombigbee at Moscow would be named Rooster Bridge and bear plaques relating the unique plan devised by Frank Derby in building the first bridge.

Erected By The Alabama Highway Department

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