Thursday, June 28, 7 p.m.
Putnam Museum & Science Center, 1717 West 12th Street, Davenport IA
One of the most significant events in the history of American travel will, on June 28, be explored at the Putnam Museum & Science Center when the venue hosts a special free screening of the documentary East Meets West: The First Railroad Bridge to Cross the Mississippi – the first public showing of the film since its River Action-hosted area premiere last August at the Figge Art Museum.
Produced by the local non-profit Heritage Documentaries, director Julie Wine Johnston's 51-minute documentary tells the story behind the bridge that first connected Rock Island to Davenport in 1856, with details including: how Henry Farnam led the effort to build the railroad and the bridge; the dramatic collision with the steamboat Effie Afton just two weeks after the bridge was completed; and Abraham Lincoln's successful defense of the railroad's right to cross the river in the controversial trial that followed.
East Meets West features interviews with Lincoln historian Douglas Wilson and historian/author Douglas Brinley, as well as bridge engineer Bill Ashton, Rock Island Arsenal historians George Eaton and Paul-Thomas Ferguson, and local residents with family connections to this significant site of the United States' westward settlement. As Brinkley has stated: “If I were to pick the symbol, to put my thumb on a map of where that connection between East and West began, it was not at the arch in St. Louis. The real beginning of connection east and west was the bridge that connected Rock Island, Illinois, with Davenport, Iowa.”
East Meets West: The First Railroad Bridge to Cross the Mississippi will be screened locally at 7 p.m. on June 28, and more information on the free movie and the museum's other events, attractions, and exhibits is available by calling (563)324-1933 or visiting Putnam.org.