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"Pile-Up On The Bridge"

In the spring of 1900, Paul Jeffers and T.B. Long were hired to take a herd of about six hundred cows from the Madison Valley south to the summer range above Hutchins. This proved to be quite an eventful trip, as told by the late T.B. Long:
Leaving the Madison Valley, the cows handled easy and moved fast, after getting strung out for about two miles. The entire trip was fifty miles and we made half of it the first day, camping at Deer Creek that night. The next morning the cows wanted to travel fast, and everything went smoothly until we got to the bridge over the Madison River at Hutchins.

Ordinarily, we would have forded the river with our herd, but not his time, for the cattle had another idea. About a half mile from the bridge, something spooked the cows, and as they felt fresh and wanted to run anyway, they took off up the road at a high run. I was in the lead and there was no turning the leaders. There was nothing to do but let them cross the bridge. I got across with about fifty head, when all at once a pole in the flooring broke, and flew straight up in the faces of the oncoming cows. Startled, the leaders stopped short! The sudden weight placed in one spot broke the center span, plunging cows, bridge and all into the river.

In amazement I watched the huge pile-up of cattle and broken timbers in the water and was sure we'd be short some cows, but there wasn't a thing I could do except watch. When things stopped falling, I rode into the river to see what I could do to straighten the mess out. The water was swift and between two to three feet deep. The cows were getting out and scampering to safety on the bank. I could scarcely believe my eyes, but there did not appear to be one injured.

After checking again to make sure there were none left in the water, I looked up at the skeleton of the bridge, and my mouth dropped open in surprise, for there on one of the piers between the broken spans stood a cow with all four feet bunched on the small top of the pier with nothing around her but space! Shaking out my rope, I rode into the river to the bottom of the pier, and catching the cow by the neck, pulled her over backwards into the river with a splash. She gained here feet at once and was uninjured. Paul and I forded the river with the balance of the herd. We could not believe that such a thing could happen and not hurt one cow, but it had. We got the herd strung out once more, continued on, and reached our destination that night without further incident.