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The Red River Toll Bridge at Sacra's Ferry at Brown Springs

Toll bridge house
The toll house at the toll bridge offered a free return within 48 hours so no one overstayed their welcome. I am unsure if this house was on the Oklahoma or Texas side, though I think it was the Oklahoma side (Stark Ranch).

In September of 1931, the toll bridge that spanned the Red River between Love County, Oklahoma and Cooke County, Texas at the former Sacra's Ferry site across from Brown Springs closed for good in favor of the free bridge a mile upstream. The road to get to the toll bridge through Gainesville is Grand Avenue, but the free bridge served state highway 40, which we now all know and love as U.S. 77 and Interstate 35. Okay, maybe "love" isn't quite the right word.

The Gainesville Red River Bridge Company, which owned the toll bridge at Sacra's Ferry, filed an injunction to stop traffic on the free bridge. Unlike the opening of the free bridge between Colbert, Oklahoma and Denison, Texas in July of 1931, however, this injunction did not create a public-relations "war" between the governors of the states.

The argument in Gainesville rested on the problem that the road bed for SH 40/ Route 77 was two miles west of downtown Gainesville, thus bypassing the city and creating worry about its future commercial traffic. Further, the governor of Oklahoma discovered that the road bed on the Texas side "had settled approximately five feet below the bridge roadway," and slyly offered to provide Texans with road-building equipment, and Oklahoma talent to actually use it.

This infrastructure quagmire didn't sit to well with some Gainesville citizens, who feared that their city's commerce would suffer. Therefore, they "raised funds by contribution to build the three mile detour from Highway No. 77 to the short, completed section of Highway No. 40." This contribution effectively stopped the problem on both ends: Texas got a decent road, and the highway was built much closer to downtown Gainesville.

Ruins of the destroyed toll bridge, and the old road bed, are still visible and accessible in Love County, Oklahoma; across the Red River, the toll bridge pillars and road into Gainesville sit on private land. I find that this situation makes the differences between Texas and Oklahoma glaringly obvious: Texas carved its public lands into private enterprises, whereas Oklahoma shares its land. I HATE that Texas has almost no public access to the Red River unlike the other valley states.

One of several pillars that supported the old toll bridge still stands in the woods on the Oklahoma side.

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