Mount Isa City Council says construction work as part of the $7.5 million bridge-replacement project should begin in the next few weeks where the 87 year-old Isa St bridge once stood.
The bridge was demolished on Wednesday May 15 and this week rubble was bulldozed away from the Leichhardt riverbed.
Over the years the historic bridge has meant different things to different people, particularly born and bred locals, and as the new bridge goes up fond memories of the old one have begun to resurface.
The now 84-year-old former state member for Mount Isa Peter Beard holds many special memories of the Isa St bridge.
"Many were the heroic tales of brave men hurling themselves into the rapids to attempt the swim to town side, so that they'd be marooned where the pubs were for as long as it took for the river to go down," Mr Beard said.
"No attempt of course would be made to make the return crossing until the swell had receded to a trickle and a few shallow puddles," he said.
Mr Beard said one well-known underground miner named Eric Melling became a bit of a legend.
"He earned lasting fame by swimming the flooded creek to get to work. The miners would play euchre or five hundred in the crib rooms during meal breaks, continuing for a week, and when the points were calculated the two men who lost bought a casket ticket for the group of four.
Despite the smallness of the stake, Mr Beard said the games were conducted fiercely, and great honour was bestowed on the winning pairs.
"Eric told me sometime in the 70s that he and his mate were leading in the euchre game, and he had to be there at crib time or forfeit the game," he said.
"So he swam the torrent, and for years afterwards his shift boss, Bonnie Lindsay pointed him out to new young miners with pride saying, 'This man swam the flooded river to get to work. He's a true blue Aussie, an old digger. How many of you b's would do that? You're all too weak!'."
Mr Beard said this caused great amusement to Eric and his mates.
Yet from the nostalgia comes a fact many residents may not know about the Isa St bridge, which was revealed after a recent poll to discern the correct nickname for the bridge, either little or small.
Mr Beard wrote a letter to the North West Star disagreeing with both sides of the argument.
He said initially the bridge was not known as either little or small and for good reason.
"For those born in the Isa in 1935, it was always just called 'the bridge'.
"There was only one bridge in town back then so there was no distinction. It wasn't until the new one (Grace St bridge) was built, that it became know as the 'old bridge' or the 'low bridge'," he said.
His wife Gail agreed. She remembers fondly calling the bridge, the 'old' bridge, however Mr Beard's son, Tim said after he was born in 1962 the name changed to 'little' bridge.
"So it seems my son's generation refer to it as the 'little' bridge but in the 40-50s we called it the 'low' or 'old' bridge," Mr Beard senior said.
The new Isa Street Bridge is expected to be completed in November.
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