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Colbert's Bridge, Hotel, and Ferry at the Red River

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

A different view of Colbert's Hotel and Stage stand, as seen by a sketch artist for the Handbook of North Texas, published in 1886.

Colbert's hotel stood on a bluff above the eponymous ferry, which once was replaced by a bridge in 1875 that the Red River promptly washed away, in Bryan County, Indian Territory. This part of Bryan County belonged to the Chickasaw Nation, as did the proprietor of the hotel, Benjamin Colbert. A few miles from the river's south banks stood Denison (Grayson County, Texas), built on a series of hills.

In 1875, Benjamin Colbert opened the first wagon bridge across the river here, but a flood carried the bridge away nary a year later and, until the 1890s, visitors - like these fine people playing croquet on Colbert's well-groomed lawn - traveling from Indian Territory to Texas, or vice versa, had to make do with the ferry again.

I do not think that a photograph exists of the first Colbert Toll Bridge of 1874-1876, but I've been wrong about things before. So let us know if you know of a photograph of the "wood and iron combined... six hundred feet long, single wagon track, supported by three stone piers besides the abutments" bridge!

An announcement of the first wagon bridge to cross the Red River between Texas and Indian Territory in 1875 (Austin American Statesman, September 5, 1875).


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