Rating:
3 votes

Fort Smith-Van Buren Free Bridge

Photos 

Composite photo showing the lift span up and down.

Vintage photo provided by Gene McCluney

Enlarge

BH Photo #129857

Map 

Description 

This bridge carried 2 sets of trolley car tracks inside the trusses, and 2 automobile lanes cantilevered on the outside of the trusses

Facts 

Overview
Lost through truss vertical-lift bridge over Arkansas River on Midland Boulevard (US 71) in Fort Smith
Location
Fort Smith, Sebastian County, Arkansas, and Crawford County, Arkansas
Status
Replaced by new bridge as part of the Kerr-McClellan Arkansas River navigation project.
History
Built 1912; Refurbished 1956; Replaced 1969
Builders
- Foster-Creighton-Gould Co. of Nashville, Tennessee
- Kansas City Bridge Co. of Kansas City, Missouri
- Waddell & Harrington of Kansas City, Missouri (Vertical Lift Designer)
Railroads
- Fort Smith Light & Traction Co (FSL&T)
- Streetcar
Design
Pratt through truss
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 196.0 ft.
Total length: 1,764.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+35.43031, -94.35684   (decimal degrees)
35°25'49" N, 94°21'25" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/376833/3921610 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Van Buren
Inventory number
BH 38331 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • September 19, 2016: New photos from Dave King
  • January 21, 2016: Updated by Luke: Added lift designer + streetcar stuff
  • April 8, 2009: New photo from Gene McCluney
  • March 8, 2009: New photo from Gene McCluney
  • March 6, 2009: New photo from David Backlin
  • December 28, 2008: Updated by David Backlin: Added USGS Info
  • December 7, 2008: Added by Gene McCluney

Sources 

Comments 

Fort Smith-Van Buren Free Bridge
Posted January 20, 2011, by David Backlin (us71 [at] cox [dot] net)

If you look closely, you can sometimes see remnants of the piers in the middle of the river.

Fort Smith-Van Buren Free Bridge
Posted June 16, 2010, by ROBERT REED HUTCHINGS (DIRTRIDER444444 [at] AOL [dot] COM)

THERE WAS SOME FORM OF UPDATING OR REPAIRS DONE TO THIS BRIDGE IN 1946-47 BY KANSAS CITY BRIDGE CO.

MY FATHER, ATWILL REED HUTCHINGS WAS A FOREMAN ON THIS PROJECT. HIS FRIEND OF MANY YEARS, SAM YURBY (SAM BOUGHT THE CLIFF'S THAT OVERLOOK FORT SMITH IN VAN BUREN. HE MANY YEARS LATER RETIRED THERE.) WAS ALSO A FOREMAN.

I WENT TO KINDEGARDEN IN FORTSMITH.

I STILL REMEMBER, SEARS STORE INSTALLED THE FIRST ESCALLATOR IN FORT SMITH. PEOPLE CAME FROM ALL AROUND TO SEE AND RIDE IT. I WAS BETWEEN 4 TO 5 YRS OLD.

THIS IS A PHOTO OF ATWILL REED HUTCHINGS

ROBERT REED HUTCHINGS

Fort Smith-Van Buren Free Bridge
Posted June 16, 2010, by ROBERT REED HUTCHINGS (DIRTRIDER444444 [at] AOL [dot] COM)

THERE WAS SOME FORM OF UPDATING OR REPAIRS DONE TO THIS BRIDGE IN 1946-47 BY KANSAS CITY BRIDGE CO.

MY FATHER, ATWILL REED HUTCHINGS WAS A FOREMAN ON THIS PROJECT. HIS FRIEND OF MANY YEARS, SAM YURBY (SAM BOUGHT THE CLIFF'S THAT OVERLOOK FORT SMITH IN VAN BUREN. HE MANY YEARS LATER RETIRED THERE.) WAS ALSO A FOREMAN.

I WENT TO KINDEGARDEN IN FORTSMITH.

I STILL REMEMBER, SEARS STORE INSTALLED THE FIRST ESCALLATOR IN FORT SMITH. PEOPLE CAME FROM ALL AROUND TO SEE AND RIDE IT. I WAS BETWEEN 4 TO 5 YRS OLD.

ROBERT REED HUTCHINGS

Fort Smith-Van Buren Free Bridge
Posted June 9, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Photo #10.....another tombstone........

Fort Smith-Van Buren Free Bridge
Posted June 9, 2010, by Cliff Darby (clif30 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I'm willing to bet the flood pictures are of the great 1927 Flood

Fort Smith-Van Buren Free Bridge
Posted February 18, 2010, by RAY TERRELL (terrer [at] earthlink [dot] net)

ATT: Mr. Gene McCluney Feb 18, 2010

Mr. David Backlin

Dear Sir's

Thank you very much for posting the Photos of the "Fort Smith-Van Buren Free Bridge" they are great and brings back memories for my earlier years from the 50's and 60's! I just can't foreget this great bridge and this is the first History I have seen about the bridge. It also reminds me way back when, and the special times Christmas shopping on Garrison Avenue with all the people crowding the Store front sidewalks,was a very special time back during the 50's and 60's. Once again, Thank you for showing the Photos!