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Bridge Destruction(s) at Garland City

Updated: Jul 7

The 1931 truss bridge across Red River at Garland City was documented for a HAER project before its ultimate demise (LOC).

Garland City in Miller County, Arkansas was once known as the boot-legging capital of the Southwest. It was also a stop for the Cotton Belt railroad and before the rails came through, the town boasted a steamboat landing and ferry crossing. Always a small town, it was nonetheless a resilient little hamlet along the Red River, weathering floods and other troubles.

About a century after its founding, Garland City petitioned for a road bridge to be built over the Red River on US 82, and the state began construction in 1927. This was during the era when southwestern Arkansas pushed to become a tourist destination, which led a public desire for modern bridges to replace outdated ferries. Residents of Miller, Lafayette, and Hempstead Counties all voted to dedicate bonds to fund bridge construction, with the hope being that tolls collected would make a good return on their investment.

But all was not well in Garland City! On the morning of September 3, 1930 the almost-completed Garland City bridge was wracked by a blast that propelled the span into the Red River. The Kansas City Bridge Company rebuilt the span, and the State of Arkansas ended up charging two construction workers with the crime, but charges were dismissed when alibis were presented. Locals spoke amongst themselves that it may have been the ferry operator who organized the blast, as he had been vocally protesting the bridge's erection. The mystery of who dynamited the bridge is still unsolved.

Nonetheless, the truss bridge opened in 1931, but was demolished about fifty years later when US 82 was straightened to the north of town and a utilitarian concrete structure replaced it. Now, travelers don't even have to enter Garland City on their way to Texarkana or Magnolia anymore.

Newspaper article and photo
Oh no - the bridge is wrecked! From the Hope Star, September 1930.

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