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Silver Bridge

Photos 

Side view

Photo provided by the Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department

BH Photo #100411

Map 

Street View 

Brief history: 

Written by J Randall Houp

This bridge was originally built in 1912 by the town of Mulberry.The middle span and the right span on the Franklin County side (see photo}, were both washed out in the great flood of 1927. Just the Crawford County side (span on left) survived. In 1929, Crawford County made an attempt to rebuild the bridge themselves, but unfortunately lost several pieces in the Mulberry River. Lakeside Bridge Company took over the project in 1929 and completed the bridge in an agreement they would also build the new bridge at Rudy, Arkansas across Frog Bayou. When studying the three spans now standing; the Crawford County span built in 1912 is a slightly different style and is also considerably longer than the Middle and far right spans. Portals are also of different design. Earlier history written by me confirms dates built. Any questions, please ask.

Facts 

Overview
Three-span through truss bridge over Mulberry River on CR 67 (Wire Road) just north of I-40 in Mulberry
Location
Franklin County, Arkansas, and Crawford County, Arkansas
Status
Open to traffic with 3 Ton weight Limit
History
Built ca. 1912 by the Lakeside Bridge & Steel Co.; rehabilitated 1976; closed to traffic Nov. 2006; Reopened Nov 2007
Builder
- Lakeside Bridge & Steel Co. of North Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Design
West span: One pin-connected, 7-panel Pratt through truss
East spans: Two pin-connected, 6-panel Pratt through trusses
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 105.0 ft.
Total length: 341.8 ft.
Deck width: 11.1 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 13.1 ft.
Recognition
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Mulberry River Bridge
Wire Ford Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+35.53054, -94.04011   (decimal degrees)
35°31'50" N, 94°02'24" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/405703/3932377 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Mountainburg SE
Inventory numbers
AHTD 13091 (Arkansas Highway and Transportation Dept. bridge number)
NRHP 06001272 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 10335 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection (as of 11/2015)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Appraisal: Structurally deficient
Sufficiency rating: 11.8 (out of 100)
Average daily traffic (as of 1987)
131

Update Log 

  • September 25, 2014: New Street View added by Ralph Demars
  • February 28, 2012: Essay added by J Randall Houp
  • January 30, 2010: Posted HAER photos
  • September 3, 2008: Updated by David Backlin
  • July 28, 2008: Updated by David Backlin: Re-opened to traffic with 3 Ton Limit
  • February 3, 2008: New photos from David Backlin
  • February 5, 2007: Now listed on the National Register

Sources 

  • AHTD
  • David Backlin - us71 [at] cox [dot] net
  • Fred Garcia
  • Gene McCluney - gmacfilm [at] live [dot] com
  • HAER AR-71 - Wire Ford Bridge, Spanning Big Mulberry Creek at Wire Road (CR 67), Pleasant Hill vicinity, Crawford County, AR
  • J. Randall Houp

Comments 

Silver Bridge
Posted August 11, 2008, by Randall Houp (ghostbridgehunter [at] yahoo [dot] com)

In September 2007 I wrote a 10 page historical account on this bridge. Since that time I have gathered additional data and have heard from several other people. I am planning to re-write my history on this bridge. If anyone else has any additional information or old photographs please contact me as soon as possible. This bridge was first built in 1912, NOT 1929! Thanx!!!

Silver Bridge
Posted November 19, 2007, by David McElroy (bigmac52 [at] ar-digit [dot] net)

Hooray! The Silver Bridge is back open as of Firday the 9th of November 2007. There wasn't much of a ceremony, but the local newspaper The Spectator was there and did a story on it in the Nov.14th, 2007 edition.

There is now a new weight limit of 3 tons or 6000 pounds for the bridge. Hopefully people will abide by it so as to prolong it's life a little longer.

Long Live the Silver Bridge!

Silver Bridge
Posted November 12, 2007, by David McElroy (bigmac52 [at] ar-digit [dot] net)

I am glad Judge Hall has had time to think about it and change his mind. I would like to change my mind also and retract all my negative comments made here.

Silver Bridge
Posted November 6, 2007, by Rusty Garrett (rgarrett [at] swtimes [dot] com)

Crawford County Judge John Hall has apparently changed his mind about the Silver Bridge. He told me the county IS doing some work on the bridge.

Hall said he recognizes that wherever the boundary of the counties lies, citizens of BOTH rely on the bridge for a more efficient and safer way to go between the two.

Silver Bridge
Posted November 1, 2007, by David McElroy (bigmac52 [at] ar-digit [dot] net)

The Silver Bridge is one of a very unique value in the fact that it spans 2 counties. Franklin and Crawford. What also is very unique is the fact that the past Crawford County Judge Jerry Williams and present Franklin County Judge Joe Powell stood in the middle of Silver Bridge posing for a photo published in the local newspapers for the taxpaying citizens of both counties to see as a testament to their dedication to seeing that this VERY HISTORIC but VERY USEFUL Bridge was to be preserved for the public to use and enjoy.

Fast forward to the year 2007 and one will see that the AHTD closed this bridge b/c of the structural deficiences documented in their inspections. State monies were applied for and received by Franklin County and work was promptly begun. Newly elected Crawford County Judge John Hall personally has made a whirlwind discovery and publicly announced in OCT. 2007 that the SILVER BRIDGE is NOT in Crawford Co. but entirely in Franklin and that funds would not be supplied by his county to help rehab this bridge.

One could call this announcement many things like: dumb, short-sighted, un-informed, or just plain ignorant, but that would be lacking of respect for such a highly respected office as the CRAWFORD COUNTY JUDGE, so we shall NOT do it here.........

BUT if one looks at history that has been in place since way before any of the modern-day players were born, one would see that the CENTERLINE or THREAD of the wild and scenic MULBERRY RIVER IS the boundary line between FRANKLIN and CRAWFORD counties. There is NO amount of non-willingness to pay for it's ownership and part of the SILVER BRIDGE rehab can change the facts of history. A special THANK YOU goes out to the HONORABLE Franklin County Judge Joe Powell for his balls-out effort to save not only a piece of long lived history but to dedicate the needed time, effort, equipment, money, intestinal fortitude, and GUTS to stick to his original promise. The taxpayers of both counties that use this bridge as a daily means of transportation will have Joe to thank.

As for the Crawford County side of the Silver Bridge, be sure and ask your judge JOHN HALL to have his county amend the ownership maps of the last century, the hundreds of land deeds based on the Centerline of the Mulberry and reimburse it's Citizens the ill-gotten tax monies it has received since the Counties were established. Surely it will be a cost-effective move since NO monies were used to help REHAB the bridge.

Long live the Silver Bridge.

Silver Bridge
Posted October 28, 2007, by Gene McCluney (mccluney [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Photographed this bridge on October 27, 2007. Work is progressing on the repair. The piers have been reinforced, and all three trusses are straight and true now. Work has been done to repair guard rails, and the corrugated deck has been cleared of old asphalt and some new sections have been installed. It won't be much longer before it is open again. There is construction equipment parked on both sides of the bridge. The photo is from Saturday, October 27, 2007.

Webmaster's note: The photo that was here has been incorporated into the main site.

Silver Bridge
Posted October 7, 2007, by Daniel Arnold (oak_grove99 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

According to the locals we met there on a recent trip, Silver Bridge should be reopened by Oct. 15. The repair to the piers has been completed, and all the work crews have left is to resurface the pavement on the bridge. Hopefully, this pretty bridge will soon be back in service!

Silver Bridge
Posted September 19, 2007, by Gene McCluney (mccluney [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

I hear that there is repair work being done on the bridge to get it reopened. I hope this is true.

Turner Bend Bridge
Posted May 14, 2007, by Robert Scoggin (Robert [dot] scoggin [at] arkansashighways [dot] com)

Randall, here are a couple of pictures of the early Turner Bend bridge. The piers indicated to me that it was built by the Lakeside Bridge Company. I hope this helps with with your research.

Silver Bridge
Posted May 14, 2007, by Robert Scoggin (Robert [dot] scoggin [at] arkansashighways [dot] com)

Randall, can you send me some of your info. I want to get the right info in our database for the bridge.

Thanks

Silver Bridge
Posted May 12, 2007, by Randall Houp (ghostbridgehunter [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Attention: Robert Scoggin,

I should have read and studied your earlier comments on this bridge. As earlier mentioned, i am doing extensive research on 3 Mulberry River bridges: The TURNER BEND BRIDGE, built December 1900; The MULBERRY BRIDGE, built July 1896; and the SILVER BRIDGE, built first in September 1912 and again in March, April and May 1929. There seems to be a little confussion distinguishing between these two bridges. Please note that the Crawford County section of the 1912 bridge has SEVEN panels and has entirely different steel-stampings than the other two 1929 sections that are SIX panels each. A lot more to follow on all three bridges. Everyone please continue to write with additional stories. Need more old photos....PLEASE!!!!!

Silver Bridge
Posted May 11, 2007, by Randall Houp (ghostbridgehunter [at] yahoo [dot] com)

PS..I forgot to mention this interesting tidbit. The Lakeside Bridge Company had just finished the 9 section Arkansas River Bridge at Dardanelle. Soon after this accomplishment the LBC came to Crawford County and built the new bridge at Rudy and the Wire Road Bridge. Under contract they were both completed by May 1, 1929.

Silver Bridge
Posted May 11, 2007, by Randall Houp (ghostbridgehunter [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Thanks for your replies; please continue. Great news for everyone. This bridge was first built in September 1912. I have documentation of this and also a photograph taken of this bridge in late 1912. There are 3 sections to this bridge. The section of bridge on the Crawford County side is the only part of the 1912 bridge left. The middle section and the Franklin County section were built by the Lakeside Bridge Company in March, April & May of 1929. The series of 1927 floods washed away the original middle and Franklin County sections. This same flood also washed away the brand new US 71 cement bridge located near Mountainburg and also washed away the Rudy Bridge across Frog Bayou at Rudy. The Silver Bridge, as it is now called, was first known as the Wire Road Bridge. A complete story on this bridge and further data will be completed soon. PLEASE keep in touch! THANX....

Silver Bridge
Posted May 4, 2007, by Robert W. Scoggin (robert [dot] scoggin [at] arkansashighways [dot] com)

I forgot to include this in the first comment. The unique peirs are the architectural indentifier of a bridge built by the Lakeside Bridge & Steel Company. These peirs can also be seen on the old Morrilton Bridge over the Arkansas River which was built in 1919 by Lakeside. What is unique about this bridge is that AHTD began designing bridges full time in 1924 and from then on they had concrete abutments and peirs, but after the flood of 1927 they allowed this bridge to be built with metal peirs. Due to the wide spread destruction of roads and bridges from the flood some design standards were relaxed until 1930.

Silver Bridge
Posted May 4, 2007, by Robert W. Scoggin (robert [dot] scoggin [at] arkansashighways [dot] com)

The Silver Bridge was built in 1929. It replaced an earlier 1896 bridge that was destroyed by the 1927 flood. Crawford County let the contract for the bridge to the Lakeside Bridge & Steel Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The bridge was originally to be a two span pratt through truss, but when it arrived and was assembled it was determined to be to short for the crossing and the bridge company then sent a thrid truss to be used in the crossing. That is why you will see extra details in portal on one of the bridges and none on the others. This information was gathered by the National Park Service as part of the HAER documetation and will continue this summer.

Silver Bridge
Posted May 3, 2007, by GENE E. MCCLUNEY (mccluney [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Mr. Hoop comments that this bridge is surely older than 1929. I wanted to elaborate on the features that might lead one to suspect this. Firstly, the construction of the piers...using boilerplate cylinders that are packed with rock and concrete was a construction technique used most generally prior to about 1920, although that style of construction has been used later. Secondly, the actual style of the trusses are such to indicate a design of also around 1920 or thereabouts, possibly even earlier.

I theorize that it is possible that while the actual bridge "may" have been put in place in or about the year 1930, if so, the bridge was made up of older "used" trusses supplied by the builder. This would explain the older style. It, however does not explain the old style of the piers, which would have had to have been built on the spot. A bridge this late (1930) more often than not had reinforced, poured concrete piers, in my opinion.

It is also possible that old county records are just inaccurate as to the actual build date of the bridge, and the 1929-30 date might just be when a remodeling took place.

In the Times Record newspaper yesterday was an article stating that about $40,000 had been pledged by the state (so far) for repairs to this bridge. So, hopefully we will see this bridge open again.

Silver Bridge
Posted April 28, 2007, by Randall Houp (Ghostbridgehunter [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I am doing extensive historical research on this bridge.

Searching for any old photographs and fascinating old stories pertaining to this bridge. Without a doubt, this bridge was built BEFORE 1929!

Silver Bridge
Posted February 26, 2007, by Fred Garcia (fandsgarcia [at] gmail [dot] com)

Vistited this bridge at 3:00 pm on 25 Feb 2007. Coming in from the west end, I noticed the sign reads Centerville Rd. The bridge is about 1/2 mile off Hwy 215. This long, narrow bridge seemed sturdy when walked across. The asphalt surface is lumpy and deteriorated and the corregated substrate can be seen in places. There's a borrow pit on the west side from which pictures can be taken. Being a long bridge, one has to get fairly far away to get a profile photo of the entire 3 spans. The county road on the east side allows one to get closer by vehicle than the west side. No builders placard noted on structure. A large gravel island has been building upstream from the center pier.

Webmaster's note: The photos that were here have been incorporated into the main site.

Silver Bridge
Posted December 5, 2006, by Anonymous

It seems to me, that it would be far more economical to repair this classic old bridge, than to demolish it and replace it. It is on a county road, it serves local traffic, it does not have to carry semi-trucks, as it is close to I-40. However, for the locals living east of the bridge, now it is quite a hardship to get into town, as there is no alternative convenient route.

Please just repair this bridge. There are no parts missing, no rust through or anything, and surely the piers can be reinforced. It is obvious that in the 1970's the original wood deck was replaced with a corrugated metal deck, and this deck has had a layer or two or three of asphalt paving layed on, and this is very deteriorated, making the crossing very bumpy, which no doubt put more stress on the bridge. If the piers were reinforced, and the paving were smoothed out, I feel sure the bridge would have many more years of use for local cars and pickups.

Silver Bridge
Posted December 4, 2006, by Ron Carey (pvcarey1 [at] aol [dot] com)

I have crossed this bridge almost daily since 79, I have also seen the 18 wheelers cross, loads of hay, cattle, dump trucks cross the bridge. I work in Fort Smith, now that the bridge is closed the trip around is about 15 minutes each way, I hope no one needs an ambulance and it has to go all the way around, I for one will miss using this old bridge.

Silver Bridge
Posted November 29, 2006, by Rusty Garrett (rgarrett [at] swtimes [dot] com)

This bridge has been closed to traffic by order of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Dept. Franklin County ordered it closed Nov. 22.

Coincidentally(?) the bridge has been nominated by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Dept. for inclusion in the National Register. A vote in the listing will be Dec. 6. If approved at the state level, it goes forward for consideration at the national level.

While inclusion doesn't guarantee preservation, it makes it necessary for a federal Section 106 review of alternatives before demolition is involved,

The bridge is on the Franklin and Crawford county line and historically both counties have participated in upkeep. At a recent meeting, Franklin County officials discussed the ordered closing and fear they may have to take down the old bridge and replace it with something more "modern" and safe.

They estimate replacement (and demolition) at around $3 million, so it may be a while before the counties can come up with funds for the work. In the meantime they are hoping they can pump more concrete down to the disintegrating piers to hold it up a little longer.

Here's to hoping some folks in those two counties can generate some sort of push for at least preserving the bridge and maybe even moving the bridge to a park or some spot where more people can see its beauty.

Silver Bridge
Posted November 17, 2006, by Jeremy Medlock (jjemedlock [at] cox [dot] net)

I am 23 years old, and still fear Silver Bridge. My dad used to swim down there when he was a kid. What a bridge. It always scared me when we drove over it, cuz it would rattle. I was always and still afraid that it would fall while we were driving on it. I walked across it a few times, and that was even more scary. It may be a scary bridge, but it held alot of vehicles. I hate to see it shut down, but if it's not safe to drive, then there's no choice. The bridge is actually owned by Franklin County, yet they think Crawford County should help repair. FRANKLIN COUNTY: PLEASE REPAIR THE BRIDGE.

I doubt they will, so my last words to Silver Bridge are:

RIP Silver Bridge

1930-2006

****Jeremy Medlock****

Mulberry River CR 67 Bridge
Posted November 6, 2006, by Jaymie Mackey (katsumotomommy [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I love this bridge! I have to cross it everytime I go to visit my grandparents. As a child, I remember when it was dark out, I would look out the back window of my parents truck and imagine giant monsters chasing us off of the bridge! When I began driving, I would take all of my friends out to Mulberry and show off "my grandparents bridge". I have even been for walks with my many cousins on the little island under the bridge (or beside the bridge).

I also love this bridge because it means that the long drive to grandma and grandpa's house is almost over, and I love going to visit grandma and grandpa!

Jaymie Mackey

Mulberry River CR 67 Bridge
Posted November 2, 2006, by John Cross (jcross [at] fortsmithhome [dot] com)

I have photographed the bridge and often use to take canoes out there until landowners made it too difficult. Every time I was under the bridge and a vehicle would pass over, dozens to hundreds of rusted metal flakes would rattle off and fall into the river. I love and fear the bridge and am trying to photograph old bridges in the area. If you know of any good old ones please email me with directions and descriptions.

thanks

john

Mulberry River CR 67 Bridge
Posted November 1, 2006, by Deborah Alderson Mackey (dsmackey6 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Some of my fondest memories as a child and as an adult are represented by this bridge. I grew up in Indiana but my heart (as well as that of my brother's and sister's) belonged to Mulberry Arkansas. My dad, Wayne Alderson, grew up on the Wire Road and is currently living back on the Wire Road that this Silver Bridge is on. Every summer we would load up and head down to Mulberry. Reaching the Silver Bridge meant we were almost at grandma and grandpa's house. Then our summer vacation would begin. All of us (and when I say all of us, I mean 11 aunts/uncles and each of their clan) would pack into vehicles and head for the silver bridge to go swimming/fishing. I must say that way back then, sometimes we would even load up to hmmmmmmm, go take our night time baths in the water below. I remember going to the movies and watching "Jaws" then heading for a late night swim in the deep dark waters below the bridge and being very scared, my young mind could not imagine why there could not be a shark in the eerie waters of the Mulberry creek!!!!!

Anyway, Silver Bridge holds many fond memories for me. I have heard it told that my grandfather Homer Ellis Alderson had a hand in building it. So, it is even more sentimental to me. Am I afraid to go over it? Not really, maybe just for my vehicle, you know the big holes and all.

The Mulberry Silver Bridge will forever be a landmark for me and my family.

Deborah Alderson Mackey

Mulberry River CR 67 Bridge
Posted March 3, 2006, by James R. Alderson (540 pennsylvania ave [dot] Brick, NJ)

My father Homer alderson ran a lumbermill at lone elm, just

a few miles from this bridge. One time I remember cutting

timber at the mill for the planking for the bridge. That would be around 1950 or so.

Mulberry River CR 67 Bridge
Posted March 3, 2006, by Lorrie Alderson Lawrence (lonafit61 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I have been across that bridge several times in my life.I always feared that bridge. I was always affraid that the bridge was not strong enough cause of age. I used to close my eyes every time we went over it. Once we went over I would say is it over yet did we make it. Every time we made it. My dad grew up down the road. I still have the fear of the bridge as it is getting older and how much weight it will hold. Going over the bridge was the start of the vacation to Grandma and Grandpa's house and that we were almost there. My Dad and family's used to go swimming in the creek below the bridge. Those were the days...

Mulberry River CR 67 Bridge
Posted January 30, 2006, by Nancy Alderson LuBera (nanapoi [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I have been across that bridge several times in my life, When my family would go on vacation. My Dad grew up down that road. I would sleep most of the trip from New Jersey to Ark. and I'd always tell them to wake me up when we got to the bridge. Crossing that bridge was always the real start of vacation for me. I miss those days alot, and I did have a little fear of crossing, but just a little....

Mulberry River CR 67 Bridge
Posted January 10, 2006, by linda g weatherl (lweatherl [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I grew up in the Lone Elm community and this was the road into Mulberry that I took many times. I swam in the water below silver bridge many, many times as a child and teenager. I have purchased a painting done by a local artist of silver bridge because of the memories it holds for me. My husband now, my boyfriend then traveled that road and crossed that bridge to come see me every weekend from Mulberry for 4 years. It's kind of like it represents the gap (space) between us. Very, Very fond memories for me. Thanks for this site. Linda Alderson Weatherl

Mulberry River CR 67 Bridge
Posted January 9, 2006, by Rick Alderson (ricktkd5 [at] aol [dot] com)

I've crossed that bridge several times since 1972 and never once have I feared for my life. I've had some of the best times with my family at that bridge. I can remeber fishing with my dad (Eddie Alderson)and my grandma and grandpa. My grandpa would sometimes sit at the bank and sing and would always ask "Rick when you gonna catch that fish" i'd tell grandpa "i'm trying" then grandpa would tell me "jump in (the river) and catch it" but my grandma would get upset at grandpa and tell grandma "don't tell him that". I live in Ohio now but that bridge will always be a good part of my life. And Dad you misspelled teenager.. LOL

Rick Alderson

Mulberry River CR 67 Bridge
Posted January 5, 2006, by Eddie Alderson (bevalderson [at] earthlink [dot] net)

I have crossed this bridge since 1950. Hundreds of vehicles cross every day without a problem. It will last forever.

This was a favorite swimming hole up until the late 70's, I remember jumping off the top (yes very top) as a crazy teanager. I have never feared for my life crossing it, I guess because I just don't know better. I have even seen recently an Overnight 18 wheel tractor/pup trailor cross without falling through.

Mulberry River CR 67 Bridge
Posted December 13, 2005, by Jim Alderson (jalderson [at] ensr [dot] com)

I have feared for my life every time crossing this bridge since I was 5 years old (1980). Its downright scary but its the most direct route to my relatives' houses.