Just got ahold of a few more pictures, first one dated 3/18/1970, and two more during the teardown, dated 3/24/1970. Also a few more photos plus huge size scans of these on the link I posted before.
Here is another photo of the swinging bridge. This one more closely resembles the way the bridge looked when approaching it to drive across. Most of the other photos are taken from below the bridge and show only the "grandeur" of the bridge. The part of the bridge with the pilings underneath had wooden rails about three to four feet high, and this rail was the only thing between your car and the ground below.
Here is a picture my parents took. What you can see of the car is a 1965 Mercury which they bought in 1965 and got rid of in 1967. It is a very good view of the inside of the bridge.
The bridge was built in 1928, not 1940. When horses used to cross the bridge, the owners had to put a cover over the horses' heads and lead them, otherwise they wouldn't cross. I guess horses are smarter than people.
I lived east of the river and grew up crossing this bridge every day. We called it "rattle trap bridge" because of the sounds the boards made as the car went across. Every couple of years, the highway department would refloor the bridge, which meant they put new wooden planks across the bottom. They would tear up a section at a time, then place a few boards long-ways across the section that had been torn up so the traffic that had backed up could cross the bridge. It was terrifying to cross on those few boards on a school bus! When I started driving, I drove to school across the bridge every day. One day it was raining, and I lost control on the way up to the center of the bridge. My car fish-tailed and hit the rails on the sides three times before coming to rest. I remember the feeling of knowing I wasn't going to make it. I'm now almost 60 years old, and I still dream about it and wake up shivering.
I remember that ole bridge very well. We sure to ride over it in the school buses and of course car. Awesome photos.
What wonderful memories and bad dreams at the same time!! I had such a love/hate relationship with the wonderful swinging bridge. One time, my dad had to back down past the hugh curve in the bridge to let another car pass. I was so scared so I got in the floorboard. As I grew older, my friends and I would walk the bridge on Sunday afternoons. Boards were always missing and I never got close to the sides. Too bad it wasn't saved and added to the National Historic Register!!!
I lived on the banks of the White River just West of the old bridge. My mother ran her beauty shop in the shadows of that bridge. I still have some pictures that we took before they tore it down. If you were crossing the bridge, you would pass the old cotton gin on the South side of town. Then, before crossing the bridge, you could go into Ms. Bragg's store and have a bologna sandwich and a coke from the old chest style cooler. I used to go around looking for coke bottles to turn in at Ms. Braggs and buy fire works with the money that I got. One morning, we heard a loud boom. We went outside and watched as they used explosives to start the demolition of the bridge.
I too loved the bridge and have many memories crossing it; to my grandparents' home (not to mention the other family members' homes)pretty much each Sunday. Love the photos; wish we could gather more of them; I'm sure they are out there.
I grew up in this area and walked and rode across this bridge countless times. It never occurred to me to be scared...it was just the bridge we had to cross to get to Des Arc. I remember riding in trailers filled with cotton and being pulled by a tractor across this bridge and feeling the swaying of the bridge...not sure I would do that today if I could. I too feel a degree of sadness with the bridge being gone...it's like a piece of my childhood disappeared.
I rode in a school bus for eleven years crossing the bridge everyday. Sometimes we had to wait for someone to back down to one of the wide sections, and then sometimes we had to back up in the school bus ourselves. I don't remember being afraid, but after I married, my husband was terrified to cross it. I wish it could have been kept intact. What a memory!
Shirley Greene Sullivan
I ran across a couple more pics of the bridge and have them up at:
What a unique part of our shared past for those who grew up in Des Arc in the mid-20th century! We loved it. We feared it. When two loaded trucks or buses came headlight to headlight in the center section, we'd watch while one driver had to back down to the passing point just before the center section. One could observe (from any of several vantage points in town) the downward sway beneath the two heavy loads. In such a small town, that was some real excitement -- at least it seemed so to me as a girl of 10ish. That also speaks to how little traffic was on the bridge at any given time back in the good ole days. Thanks for the memories. -Judy Coker Andrews, DAHS class of 1958
I,m 67 yrs old and remember this bridge as if it were yesterday. I walked and rode across this bridge many times in my boyhood. as a boy i use to have night mares falling off it and would wake up just before hitting the water. I will never forget this experience. I'll never understand why this bridge was not saved as a land mark.
I crossed this bridge 5 days a week, going to and from school. Passing vehicles on the bridge in a school bus was quite scary, especially grain trucks. One day almost in the middle of the bridge we had to pass a grain truck. We had the windows open on the bus. There was a rod sticking out of the side of the truck, bus window high. The rod hung in one of the windows. The bridge is swaying to and fro. I don't recall how we managed to get by; I just recall being very nauseated. Sad to see that this bridge was destroyed.
We crossed this bridge going deer hunting on the White River north of Des Arc every year (traveling from Marked Tree). It was the highlight of the trip for me as a youngster. I was just showing this picture of the swing bridge to my daughter and reminiscing about old times.
When I was a child I remember being scared to go to my great grandmother's house because we had to cross this bridge. There were areas where you could wait if some other vehicle was on the bridge, but you could not always see well enough to decide if the bridge was occupied. It was a one laner. I remember one time crossing in a wind and the boards were rolling up and down in dips. We met 2 milk trucks in the middle and their side of the bridge was about 3 feet lower than ours because of the weight differences. I thought the paint would scrape off the car as we passed them. I must have been around 8 years old and I thought we were going in the river. When I see footage of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge dissaster it takes my memories back to this bridge in Arkansas.
We grew up in White County and would often cross the old swinging bridge at Des Arc. My oldest sister was terrified of the bridge and once, when we were waiting to cross it, she refused to ride across it riding in the back of our truck. So my Dad says, okay - you can walk across. Well, when she walked across it she saw the missing boards and realized she would rather ride across it. She never did that again!
I remember the old Des Arc swinging bridge very well. I was young and it was torn down before I started a family. But, when it was destoyed, I felt a sadness and a turning point in my life. The pictures do not give it justice. As a teenager I remember the thrill of crossing the single lane and waiting for the swaying and 'creeking' sounds to begin. The crossing seemed to take forever. There was always a certain sense of fear associated with the crossing especially in cold weather when it was even more hazardous. For those of us who were young with no children, it was an exciting drive. When the new bridge was built, safe or not, I missed the old one so much. On occasion, in conversation regarding the bridge, I can truthfully say I was a part of a special historical passing.
I remember crossing this bridge in the car with my mother driving and she always dreaded the possibility of meeting a truck loaded with grain. If we met the truck she would have to back down into the passing area of the bridge. The bridge would make creaking noises and we could see it dip in where the truck had just passed by. We could feel the up and down movement from the weight of the big truck. It was frightening for us. It was a beautiful bridge though, and most unusual I am sorry they had to tear it down.