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MENOMONIE — The Dunn County Historical Society is developing a new exhibit and seeks help from area residents. Titles “Born of Flood Waters: The Bridges of ’35,” the exhibit is tentatively set to open May 2013 at the Russell J. Rassbach Heritage Museum.
In 1934, floods devastated Dunn County and much of the surrounding area, washing out or damaging bridges that provided access to many roads for rural families.
“The exhibit will look at the impact that the floods and the bridge construction that followed had on Dunn County residents,” said Matt Carter, the Society’s Interim Executive Director. “In a time when many people were out of work, the disaster provided an opportunity for many to earn wages by building bridges.”
The Works Progress Administration (WPA), started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was given the task to rebuild the washed out bridges. The WPA provided many jobs for county residents and potentially helped some families get back on their feet.
“The local newspapers used the completed bridges as a way to rally communities,” said Carter. “Full page advertisements called for all community members to gather for the grand opening of a bridge. Music, fireworks and food were part of the celebration.”
The Historical Society is seeking public participation in creating the exhibit. Images of the floods, cleanup of damage, construction of the replacement bridges, and the opening celebrations are needed. Information about the WPA in Dunn County is sought as well. The Society also hopes to identify people with memories of these events who are willing to participate in an oral history project to document this important story. If you, or someone you know, is able to contribute, please contact the Dunn County Historical Society.
The Rassbach Heritage Museum is located at 1820 Wakanda Street in Menomonie’s Wakanda Park. To set up a time for an interview or to discuss images or other materials you are willing to share, contact the Dunn County Historical Society at 715-232-8685 or firstname.lastname@example.org.