Library Patron Ellen Campbell’s Review of the Book “The Great Bridge” by David McCullough


By Ellen Campbell

I’ve just finished reading a book that I found so intensely interesting and well-written that I felt led to recommend it to others.

It is one of author David McCullough’s excellent books, The Great Bridge. Thinking it was McCullough’s newest after reading a newspaper review, I requested it at our library. Instead, I found it was copyrighted in 1972, but has been republished in 2012 with some additional notes. I believe I’ve read every one of his other books, but missed this one the first time around. His books are all documentaries, thoroughly researched, but they read like novels.

The Great Bridge is the story of engineer John Roebling who had the vision for this bridge (the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time) spanning the East River between Brooklyn and New York City. He drew the original plans and conceived of ways to do the job, but met with a freak fatal accident when the work was barely begun. His son, engineer Washington Roebling, took over the building of the bridge, which took fourteen years to construct, 1869 to 1883. If it had not been for the son’s skill and courage as well as his wife’s dedication, the bridge would never have been built. It met with opposition from some politicians and newspaper editors from the outset, and there were many delays.

One of the very worst problems was in the early stages of building the caissons that had to be sunk clear down to bedrock many feet below the surface. The mysterious disorder called “the bends” sickened a number of employees who had to descend to the bottom to work. No one was familiar with it at the time, though deep-sea divers encountered the same phenomenon later.

Chief Engineer Washington Roebling himself succumbed to it and remained in ill health the rest of his life. For the last few years of construction he didn’t even appear at the worksite. Instead, he sat in an upper window of his nearby house watching the proceedings through a telescope. Amazingly, from that remote supervision, when the sub-engineers brought problems to him he was able to figure out exactly how to solve them.

There are many interesting side issues mentioned in the book, including interaction with the infamous Tweed Gang. I was intrigued with it all, even the engineering diagrams. The book holds one’s interest through all the criticisms of the bridge, the outright skullduggery, accidents, wire fraud, and the fascinating description of spinning the suspension cables.  My own emotions included fear and apprehension, then pure joy and exhilaration when the bridge was finished.

There was a huge celebration when the great bridge was dedicated on May 24, 1883 with special guests President Chester Arthur and Governor Grover Cleveland. Now, each time I catch a glimpse of the Brooklyn Bridge on a New York TV show or in a photograph, I recognize it and have a feeling of pride and ownership.

NE Humanities Program Speaker to be at the Library on Tuesday, July 3rd at 10:00 a.m.!

Diane Bartels will present a program “Sharpie:  Nebraska’s Queen of the Air” on Tuesday, July 3rd at 10:00 a.m. at the Central City Public Library.  This presentation is made possible by the Nebraska Humanities Council, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment and the Central City Public Library as part of the NHC Speakers Bureau.

Come and hear all about Evelyn Sharp, a pioneering, teenaged aviatrix who became a war hero.  Sharp taught men to fly and was one of the first women to ferry US Army Air Force fighters during WWII, freeing men for combat.

“Sharpie:  Nebraska’s Queen of the Air” is one of approximately 300 programs offered through the Nebraska Humanities Council Speakers Bureau.  The more than 165 available speakers include acclaimed scholars, writers, musicians, storytellers, and folklorists on topics ranging from pioneer heritage to ethics and law to international and multicultural issues, making it the largest humanities speaker’s bureau in the nation.  Speakers are available to any non-profit organization in Nebraska.  Each program lasts 30 minutes to an hour, plus a question-and-answer period.  For more information detailing available speakers and guidelines for booking them, please access the following website:

Lone Tree Days Events Begin at the Library June 30th!

Lone Tree Days events begin at the library on Saturday, June 30th!  The annual book sale begins that morning at 8:00 a.m. and goes through July 7th.  Award winning NE author, Dr. Jean Lukesh will be doing a book talk/signing later that day at 11:00 a.m.  The book she will be focusing on, is entitled “Wolves in Blue:  The North Brothers and Their Pawnee Scouts”.    The Kidz activities at the North Park begin at 1:00 p.m. and  go through 3:00 p.m.  (activities include a book walk, BINGO, and rockets fun).  A helicopter will be landing at the ballfield by the North Park sometime Sat. afternoon, for people to look at.  It should be fun for all! 🙂

Summer Reading Program Registration May 25th-June 1st!

Pick a day during Summer Reading Program Registration Week to come to the library to register and create a terrific craft or enjoy a special activity.  Come in any time between 10 a.m.-4 p.m. to participate (you can only participate in the registration activities once).  Friday, May 25th:  “Painting Like Van Gogh” (using shaving cream & watercolors to paint). Tues., May 29th: “Aliens & Space Creatures” (create creatures with paint, straws & spin art machine), Wed, May 30th: “Orbitz” (create a planet with paint), Thursday, May 31st: “POP In & Register” (play the Comet Game and leave with a bag of popcorn), Friday, June 1st: “Haunted Paper Projects” (Make a mask, haunted village, or other projects). 🙂


The library has recently purchased a “Cricut Expresson” electronic cutter that is available for library patrons to use.  This easy-to-use machine makes it a snap to make things like:  cards, displays, scrapbook pages, signs, and labels.  It can accommodate materials from cardstock to paper to vinyl.  The library will have a variety of cartridges available (each cartridge has many designs on it).  You may bring in your own materials with you to cut.  Or, the library will have some decorative sheets of paper available for you to purchase.  Please be sure to give us a call if you have any questions (946-2512). 🙂


Registration for the library’s 2012 Summer Reading Program is coming up May 25th-June 1st.  This year’s theme is:  “Dream Big READ!”

Attached is a brochure that has dates, times and descriptions of the many exciting events that are planned throughout this year’s program.  Judy (the library’s Youth Services Librarian) is visiting area schools this week, handing out these same brochures to the kids.We will also have extra brochures at the library available if you need one.

Be sure to check out the “CC LibraryKidz Zone” blog for updates at:

There will be lots of surprises and plenty of fun involved, so be sure to register!


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