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Traffic Jam Marks Hall of Famous Missourians Induction

April 12, 1999
By: Chris Pelikan
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - For a short while Monday, the traffic jam over the Missouri River in Jefferson City made it seem like it was Los Angeles?

The jam can be traced to one individual, Tom Bass. No, Bass was not the cause of a multi-car accident. In fact, Bass has been dead for 65 years.

Bass, a black native of Mexico, Mo., gained fame in riding and training American Saddlebred horses.

Despite being born into slavery, Bass rose to become one of the premier trainers of his time. He was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians Monday afternoon. As a part of the ceremonies, a caravan of about 125 horseback riders crossed the Missouri River bridge and rode to the state Capitol grounds where the ceremony took place.

In all, the ride caused commuters a delay of about 30 minutes as they waited for the horses to cross the bridge.

"Here they are riding across the bridge holding up people that have to work; it's just a hassle," complained commuter Wes Davis.

Davis crossed the river on his lunch break and was caught in the jam on his return.

"I've got 15 minutes to get back from lunch and it doesn't look like I'm going to get back in time," Davis said.

While some were frustrated by the delay caused by the ceremony, others were more understanding.

"I knew it was going to be shut down and I thought I might be able to get across before they did it, but things happen," commuter Tom Fisher said.

The Missouri Highway Department had posted a sign about one-half mile before the bridge warning the bridge would be closed for half an hour Monday.

Janet Waddell, a visitor from Weston, Mo., who was caught in the traffic, understood the significance of Bass' induction.

"It's an inconvenience, but this is a pretty neat event, so it's OK with me," Waddell said.

Bass' induction marked the 20th of its kind in the history of the Hall of Famous Missourians. Bass joins the likes of Harry Truman and Mark Twain in the Hall.

Journalist Walter Cronkite was the most recent inductee. He entered the Hall just over a month ago.