|They Left Their Mark In Oakford, 1872
Leveeing The Low Lands
One of the greatest agricultural benefits to the
area was the reclaiming of the Sangamon bottoms for
cultivation. In the fall of 1896 the farmers connected
their rather ineffective individual levees into a more
successful single barrier against the flood waters.
During the early 1900s a movement formed to
straighten the Sangamon River. In April 1903 a
petition to this effect was presented to and granted by
the Mason County court. The members of the preliminary
board of commissioners of the Sangamon River Special Drainage District of Mason Menard and Cass Counties were T. W. Buckley, John Young and James Weaver.
The following November a contract was let to
Pollard, Goff & Co. The sum of $160,000 was levied for
this purpose and work began in 1904. Bert Weaver was
awarded the contract for clearing the right of way.
At this time James Weaver lived in the bottom
two miles due north of Oakford and operated a large
saw mill on the tract of land he owned. The huge dredge
was hauled into the area and assembled near "Shady Rest"
Mr. Weaver's house.
By September 1905 the dredge had completed a
mile of new channel 75 feet wide up the Old Wagon
bridge (erected in 1896) and returned to Weaver's
mill. The dredge was supposedly the largest such in
operation in the state and attracted people from miles
away, who made weekend visits to watch it work.
The crew planned to reach the CP&St. L river
bridge with the channel in December 1905. Another
dredge began farther east working down and joining
the channel that began at Oakford.
The project extended into 1908 before the entire
channel was completed from Salt Creek to the mouth
of the Sangamon below Chandlerville.
Copyright © 2007 Jeanie Lowe & contributors
All rights reserved