Every once in a while the views of the many creeks and rivers in the
Red River Valley are delightfully obstructed by iron truss bridges.

Iron, wedded with other materials like brick and stone, has been used in bridge
construction since the 18th century. Forged in foundries in the mid-Atlantic and
mid-western states, the bridges were shipped via rail and then assembled on site.  
By the early 20th century, rust-resistant steel replaced iron as the material of choice.

Over the years, as farm machinery became too wide and car traffic too numerous,
highway departments replaced iron bridges with concrete. Railroad companies
abanonded bridges as they consolidated or went bankrupt. Sitting on byways in
various states of decay, a lot of these bridges are slated for demolition, or at least
removal. Civic minded people take it upon themselves to save the trusses - many
have found new homes in parks and along walking trails.

These old bridges aren't just laying about in silent testimony of our many modes of
transportation. By using iron and later, steel, these humble marvels symbolized the
America's second Industrial Age.
Red River Bridges
BNSF (Burlington, Northern and Santa Fe Railroad) still crosses the Red River
Denison, TX and Colbert, OK. This bridge was replaced by 1911 after
immense flooding in 1908 destroyed the earlier span, which was originally built for
the Missouri Kansas Texas Railway in 1872. Beneath this bridge are the remains of
the old bridge's demise, in particular one very interesting piece. Click on the
photograph above to see what I'm talking about.
Alexandria, Louisiana
features one of the few
drawbridges across the
Red River. This modern
steel structure was built
when inland navigation
improvements flooded
the famous rapids at
U.S. 80 is known as the Dixie-Overland Highway east of Dallas. In Louisiana, the
route travels over the tracks for the Illinois Central Railway that ran between New
Orleans and Chicago. A concrete bridge memorializes both right-of-ways.
The Blue River is one
of the few un-dammed
rivers in Oklahoma. It
can be crossed along
the old alignment of
US 70 (Lee Highway or
Highway) several
times in Bryan County,
like here near the
aptly-named town of
The  Missouri
Oklahoma Gulf Railway
crosses the Canadian
River at Calvin,
Oklahoma. Built in the
early 20th century, the
entire right-of-way is no
longer extant, but the
railroad bridges are.
This bridge is the same
configuration as  
Carpenter's Bluff in
Grayson County, Texas.
Calvin, Oklahoma
sits along the
Canadian River and
is a treasure trove of
iron truss bridges.
The Chicago, Rock
Island and Pacific
Railroad crossed
here in the late 1880s
until it stopped
running in the
mid-19th century.
Carpenter's Bluff
Bridge at the Red
River between
Grayson County,
Texas and Bryan
County, Oklahoma
once served the
Kansas Oklahoma
Gulf Railway. It was
converted to an auto
bridge. Today, it's
closed to traffic but
can still be visited.
The bridge still
sports its buck
Although this over
the Blue River in
Oklahoma along
Route 70 bridge
looks like the
previous one posted,
it's not. It's the old
Lee Highway bridge
just east of
Durant in
Bryan County,
Oklahoma. Built in
1921, it came from
the same company
as other Lee
Highway bridges
from the same era.
This 1896
suspension bridge
Fort Griffin is
accessible via a dirt
road. The bridge is
no longer used for
crossing the Clear
Fork of the Brazos
River. There used to
be a large number of
suspension bridges
in Texas, but few
examples remain
(Waco, Regency,
Bluff Dale, and this
This span of the  
Cottonbelt (St. Louis &
Southwestern Railway,
now UP) was built in
the 1930s. Located at
the Red River in
Garland, Arkansas, the
wooden structures
below the
bridge were
part of an erosion
control measure
implemented by the
Most bridges at the
Red River were once
ferry crossing sites,
like this one at
Miller's Bluff
between Hosston
and Plain Dealing,
Louisiana. This
bridge was built in
The "Index" bridge
across the Red River
in Arkansas, north of
Texarkana, follows the
straight line platted by
the Adams Onis
Treaty of 1819, which
separated Mexican
Texas from Missouri
Territory. Notice that
it's a draw bridge!
Unfortunately, this
structure is long gone.
Today, a concrete
structure on U.S. 71
has taken its place.
The suspension
bridge over
Choctaw Creek
between Bells and
Sherman, Texas,
was built around
1915 and was used
for automobiles.
The county and
local farmers
pooled monies
together to build
the structure.
This 1885
bridge across
the Clear Fork
of the Brazos
River at Fort
Griffin Flat is
one of the
examples in
the state of
The Long-Allen bridge
replaced a ferry in 1933
that connected
Shreveport to Bossier
City along the
Highway. The bridge
was named for
Governors Huey P.
Long and Oscar K.
Allen. (Library of
The truss bridge in
Oklahoma helped
travelers on U.S. 70
to cross Turkey
Creek. Turkey Creek
empties into the
nearby Washita
River, which in turn
meets the Red River
at the dam area of
Lake Texoma.
Built in 1923, the
"Airline Bridge" was
erected by investors to
promote business for
Wilson, Carter County,
Oklahoma and St. Jo,
Montague County,
Texas. It succumbed
after a free bridge was
constructed. This
photograph was taken
from another
The railroad bridge at
Ponder in Denton
County, Texas still
serves the Santa Fe
(now, Burlington
Northern Santa Fe).
The road beneath is
old Highway 24 that
linked McKinney to
Decatur via
You can still drive this
stretch between
Denton and Wise
The iron truss bridge at
the Red River in Fulton,
Arkansas has been
repaired so many times
that it no longer looks
"historic," but the
bridge's supports still
date to 1874, when the
Cairo & Fulton Railroad,
chartered as a
transcontinental railroad
in 1853, crossed the Red
River to enter Texarkana.
In 1920, two suspension
bridges were proposed
between Fannin County,
Texas and Bryan
County, Oklahoma: one
at Sowell's Bluff and one
at Snow's Ferry in
Telephone. Both bridges
were completed in the
1930s as toll bridges.
Sowell's Bluff  collapsed
and was replaced with
an iron truss in 1938. In
1940, the Telephone Toll
bridge collapsed, too,
but was never replaced.
The stone bridge at
Roxton in Lamar
County, Texas
traverses Cane Creek, a
tributary of the Sulphur
River which is,
eventually, a tributary
of the Red River. This
railroad bridge is
considered rare due to
its construction, and
historic due to its
erection by the WPA in
the 1930s. It was built
for the Gulf, Colorado &
Santa Fe line.
Near Fleetwood,
Jefferson County,
Oklahoma and Red
River Station, Montague
County, Texas was a toll
bridge at Ketchum's
Bluff that was supposed
to bring tourists to a
spa, but the business
never got off the ground.
The bridge, constructed
in the 1920s, was
burned mid-century by
its owners.(UTA Special
In 1929, Harlow's
Weekly, a digest based
in Oklahoma City,
printed an article about
toll bridges and the
legislative push to
eliminate tolls. The map
the publication does
not include all bridges
across the Red River,
but it mentions two free
bridges at Arthur City,
Texas (east) and
Davidson, Oklahoma
(west). (Oklahoma
Historical Society)