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Eggners Ferry Bridge Collapse

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Kentucky Transportation Office District 1 press release (photo provided by Keith Todd)

AURORA, Ky. (Feb. 21, 2012) In the hours after the cargo ship Delta Mariner hit the US 68/KY 80 Eggners Ferry Bridge January 26th, people came to know the site worldwide as the Eggner s Ferry Bridge, with an apostrophe.  

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 1 Spokesman Keith Todd says within a couple of days of the incident he and area news media outlets got calls about the spelling of the landmark.  

In the first few alerts we sent out, I accidentally added an apostrophe, Todd said.  We noticed the mistake and corrected it in later releases and advisories about the bridge.  

The accidental addition of an apostrophe illustrates the way many place names progress through history, and even early changes at the Eggners Ferry site.  

According to Marshall County historian Justin Lamb, who is an administrative assistant in the County Judge-Executive s office, the Eggners Ferry Bridge was originally run by the Egner (one G) family who came to the area in the 1840 s.  

During the War Between the States, Confederate Brig. General Lloyd Tilghman mentioned Eggners Ferry, using two G s in a dispatch that warned of Union forces on their way to Murray, Lamb explains.  General Tilghman spelled it with two G's and it stuck.  The ferry was run by the Egner family well up into the 20th Century. One of member of the Egner family, Pete Egner, served as Sheriff of Marshall County from 1918-1922 and used his family connection to the ferry in his election campaign.    

When the bridge was built in the early1930s it was spelled with two G s and that spelling stuck.  

As evidence of the way different maps use the name, the US Coast Guard recently referred to the site as the Eggner Ferry Bridge without an S because their river charts of the area do not have an S on the name.  

Todd noted that the discrepancy between the USCG charts and state maps doesn t surprise him.  

Within the agency, we refer to state highways by their number.  Often when we have road closures or work zones we try to include the common or local road name in our advisories, Todd said.  There have been many occasions when I ve looked at 4 or more maps and found two or three different names and/or two or three different spellings of the same road name.  

After accidentally adding an apostrophe, then finding the Coast Guard using the same name with a different spelling, Todd says it became a lot easier to understand how official listings of the Eggners Ferry Bridge can differ through history and from one official document to another.   

When you throw computer spell-checkers into the mix, there are plenty of opportunities for discrepancies, Todd said.  

The United States Geological Survey index of place names, which is the nation s arbiter of geographic location names and spelling, refers to the location as the Eggner Ferry Bridge.

Photo by Angela Smith

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