2016-10-20 / Island History


The J.A Saunders ran aground of Dutch Island 100 years ago this week. The J.A Saunders ran aground of Dutch Island 100 years ago this week. State transportation officials listened to a tirade of negative comments from roughly 150 Jamestowners who oppose retrofitting the old Jamestown Bridge into a bicycle path, The Jamestown Press reported Oct. 21, 1999.

“You can’t maintain the new one,” Fire Chief Art Christman bellowed. “Now you want to maintain the old one, too?”

Applause echoed through the Melrose School gymnasium when Christman called for the state to demolish the span.

“My constituents have spoke,” Councilman David Swain said. “Take it down.”

100 years ago — Oct. 20, 1916 (Newport Daily News)

The ferryboat J.A. Saunders ran aground on the north end of Dutch Island during a heavy fog.

The steamboat, which travels between West Ferry and Saunderstown, crashed on its return trip to Jamestown. The collision broke the boat’s front rudder and jammed the propeller, making it inoperable. While the three passengers and crew were taken by small boat to Fort Greble, a horse and wagon on board were marooned on the damaged ship.

75 years — Oct. 23, 1945 (Newport Mercury)

A presentation by Alfred Bowser, treasurer of the Jamestown Rotary, highlighted his travels as a commercial sailor and tobacco planter. He spoke to the Newport club at Hotel Viking.

Born in Canada, Bowser fought overseas with the Canadian army for four years during World War I. During the presentation, Bowser read from an order issued to his regiment in March 1918 to advance on German forces in France. Following the war, he traveled to Puerto Rico and South Africa to grow tobacco.

50 years ago — Oct. 20, 1966 (Newport Daily News)

Jamestown firefighters extinguished a fire in the back seat of a car at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Burton Ford on Howland Avenue. The cause of the blaze was not known.

25 years ago — Oct. 24, 1991 (The Jamestown Press)

Following a decreased weight limit on the Verrazzano Bridge, the tax burden for transporting 200 students from the island to North Kingstown High School will be covered by Jamestown taxpayers.

In a letter to the district’s state legislators, Gov. Bruce Sundlun said it would be set a bad precedent to reimburse the town.

Because of eroded support columns on the 51-year-old span, school buses were prohibited from crossing the bridge while repairs were underway. The five vans used as replacement shuttles cost the town $400 daily. According to Linnea Petersen, chairwoman of the school board, the total bill was $8,800.

10 years ago — Oct. 26, 2006 (The Jamestown Press)

There only are four explosions remaining before the old Jamestown Bridge is demolished.

The pending blasts, which will be similar to the September detonations, are all scheduled for the next the four weeks. The U.S. Coast Guard will establish a 3,000-foot safety zone on both sides of the demolitions. The small detonations will require a brief clearance of the new span, but a closure is not expected.

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