This bridge was first built at Danville, Arkansas across the Petit Jean River in 1880 at the cost of $3,100. The piers built by Tillman J. Gaydon cost $1,740. The wood approaches and trestle work was contracted to William Henry Ferguson, who had built the first bridge across the Petit Jean River in the early 1870s. The all wood approaches on the new steel Danville Bridge were 100 feet long on both sides. The most famous event to happen on the bridge was on September 9. 1883, when Danville witnessed its first known hanging. Between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., two men, Dr. John Flood and John Coker, were forcibly taken out of the Danville jail by a heavily armed mob of 15 masked men and hung from the center span of the bridge with ropes. The historic bridge remained at Danville until late 1920 when it was replaced by a pass-through truss. The new bridge was put on the same "Gaydon" piers that had been enlarged to handle the new bridge. The Danville Bowstring was stored in an undisclosed site for two years until it was reassembled at Mickles, Arkansas, 5.8 miles east of Danville and put across the Pettit Jean River in 1922. The old bridge replaced an all wood structure that was in poor condition. A complete history on this bridge was written in 2006 and submitted to several people including Robert Scoggin of the A.H.D. and Allan King Sloan, the great grandson of the man who built the King Bowstrings. (See attached pen & ink drawing made in the early 1880s.)
MICKLES BRIDGE, MICKLES, YELL COUNTY
The Mickles Bridge, which was built in 1880 by the King Iron Bridge & Manufacturing Company, is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion C with statewide significance as an extremely rare surviving example of a nineteenth-century bowstring-arch thru-truss, and as an example of King’s patented tubular arched bridge. Zenas King developed one of the largest and most diversified bridge building operations in the United States in the last decades of the nineteenth century, and his standardization of several manufacturing processes allowed him to develop the first practical and simple system to produce metal bowstring bridges in the country. Only one other bowstring-arch thru-truss is known to exist in Arkansas, which is also the only other surviving bridge built by the King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company. The Springfield Bridge, which was built in 1871 and listed on the National Register on July 21, 1988, is Arkansas’s only other bridge of this type and by this builder remaining. Because the Mickles Bridge was moved to its current location in 1920, it is also being nominated under Criteria Consideration B: Moved Properties. The nomination of the Mickles Bridge is being submitted under the multiple property listing “Historic Bridges of Arkansas” and under associated historic context “Early Transportation Era.”
Settlement in the area that became Yell County began in the 1820s with the arrival of Pearson Brearly in 1827. He was followed by Joseph H. Brearly in 1831 and then by other families including the Stinnets, Hensleys, Wickers, and Beattys. Enough people were in the area to necessitate the creation of Yell County on December 5, 1840, from parts of Pope and Scott counties. The county was named for Arkansas’s first Congressman and second governor, Archibald Yell.A temporary county seat was established for Yell County in the home of William Pevy until it was decided that the seat of power should be near the geographic center of the county. The Town of Danville was laid out and a courthouse was established. Due to the size of the county and the distribution of the population, an appeal was made for a second county seat to be established at Dardanelle in the northeast part of the county. The town of Dardanelle was laid out by Dr. Joseph Brearly in 1843 and was incorporated as a town on January 17th, 1855. Brearly was the son of Col. David Brearly, an Indian agent of the area and the grandson of David Brearly who signed the Constitution of the United States as a delegate from the state of New Jersey. The Dardanelle District of Yell County was established in 1875.
In the earliest days of Yell County’s settlement, roads were virtually nonexistent. By 1839, the only road in the area proceeded southwest from Dardanelle to the settlement of Petite Jean [sic] in far northeastern Scott County, and then went southwest to Booneville, also in Scott County at the time. By 1854, however, as more communities sprang up in the area, including Danville, roads became much more numerous, crisscrossing the region and providing a much more comprehensive transportation network. Roads fanned out from Danville to the north, east, southeast, and southwest, connecting the town with the surrounding counties.
Likely the earliest bridges built in Yell County would have been simple wood bridges. However, by the late nineteenth century, more substantial bridges would have been needed to handle the county’s needs. In response to the need for better bridges, Yell County spent $3,100 in July 1880 to have a metal bowstring bridge built across the Petit Jean River at Danville. The bridge was built by the King Iron Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio, and was described as the “new Z King’s latest improved patent tubular arched bridge.” (The bridge’s plaque reads:King Iron Bridge/& Mfg. Co./Cleveland, O./Z. King Pat. July 31, 1867.) The bridge’s two stone piers were built by Tillman Gaydon for $900, and the two 100-foot approaches and the wood deck were built by William H. Ferguson for $10.00 a foot for the span and $2.00 a foot for the approaches.
The Mickles Bridge is an excellent example of King’s own innovative bridge design. His all metal, tubular arch bridge was to become the basis upon which King built his national bridge-building business. Working in Cincinnati, Ohio, with Peter M. Frees, a metal worker experienced with wrought iron boiler plate, King built his first prototype in 1859 with no formal training in bridge engineering. King and Frees received a patent on this design in 1861 and began to manufacture these all-metal bowstring bridges at a small plant in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1862. King’s bowstring bridge, light in weight with relatively high carrying capacity, soon became extremely popular in Ohio and other surrounding states. This early success enabled King to incorporate his business in 1871, resulting in a corporate expansion that included the Iola bridgeworks in Kansas. King is credited as being the first to develop a practical and simple system to mass produce bowstring bridges using wrought iron boiler plate, which resulted in his company becoming the largest highway bridgeworks in the United States by 1884.
Another important key to King’s success was his utilization of the nation’s growing railroad system to tap into regional markets outside of the Ohio area. The construction of the first railroad in Arkansas began in 1853, but the majority of the major lines did not begin until 1870, and were not completely finished until around 1875. It appears unlikely that many metal highway bridges were built in Arkansas before railroad construction began and it suggests that the Mickles Bridge would have been one of the first prefabricated all-metal bridges to be built in the state.
The Mickles Bridge is believed to be significant at the state level because of the fact that it is a rare surviving bowstring-arch thru-truss and a rare example of the King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company’s work in Arkansas. Only one other bowstring-arch thru-truss is known to exist in Arkansas, which is also the only other surviving bridge built by the King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company. The Springfield Bridge, which was built in 1871, is Arkansas’s only other bridge of this type and by this builder remaining.
It is unlikely that many bowstring-arch bridges were built historically, and it is also unlikely that few other bridges by the King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company were built, mainly because of cost. Arkansas’s history as a relatively poor state meant that little money was likely available for bridges of this type, especially by a builder so far removed geographically from the state. (The Springfield Bridge, for example, when completed, cost $12,857, and the Mickles Bridge was likely more expensive when built.)
At least one other King Bridge was planned to be built in the state, although it was never constructed. When the contract was awarded on November 8, 1871, for the Springfield Bridge, it was actually a contract for two bridges, the Springfield Bridge and a second bridge to carry the Fort Smith Road over Point Remove Creek. However, when local residents complained that the bridge was unnecessary (the road was seldom traveled) and that the adjacent land was owned by A. D. Thomas, a county bridge commissioner, the contract for the second bridge was eventually cancelled.
At this point, it is unknown exactly how many bowstring-arch thru-trusses were built historically, but the number is likely small. At least one other bridge, a three-span example, was built in Yell County, and another example was built in Crawford County over Flat Rock Creek in 1874. (Like the Mickles Bridge, the Crawford County example was moved later and survived until it was washed away in a flood in the mid-1950s.)
Bowstring-arch thru-truss bridges were the earliest type of iron bridge constructed in the U.S., and were built mostly between the early 1860s (Zenas King and Peter Frees patented their design in 1861) and c.1890. Since this type of bridge was manufactured out of state, it would have been necessary for a good rail network to be in place to aid in delivery of the bridges around the state to their final locations. Since most of the state’s railroad construction occurred after the Civil War, and really mainly occurred during the 1870s, although it continued up into the early twentieth century, it is likely that few of the bridges were erected in Arkansas.
In addition, within a decade of the Mickles Bridge’s construction, bridges of other thru-truss types began to appear in Arkansas. The Solgohachia Bridge, built in 1890 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company (NR-listed May 26, 2004), is an example of a Pratt thru-truss. Since bridges of other types were appearing in Arkansas not too long after the Mickles Bridge was built, it means that there was a relatively short period of time that the bridges would have been built in the state, also indicating that few bridges of the type would likely have been built historically.
By 1920, however, the Mickles Bridge needed to be replaced, and a new, wider bridge was built on the original 1880 piers, although they had to be widened to accommodate the new bridge. The initial plans called for the bridge to be discarded. However, County Judge T. E. Wilson decided to reuse the bridge across the Petit Jean River at Mickles, east of Danville. The existing bridge at Mickles was a deteriorating wood bridge that had been deemed unsafe. The reassembly of the bowstring bridge cost $1,000 out of the county funds plus some donations by numerous Yell County citizens.
Little is known about the crossing at Mickles, except that it must not have been a well-used crossing. The 1936 county highway map for Yell County does not show a road at the current location of the bridge indicating that the road had likely been abandoned by that time. Over the years, after the bridge was abandoned, it lost its deck and approach spans as well. However, after the bridge’s rediscovery in recent years, an increased awareness of the bridge and its importance is coming about.
The King Iron Bridge & Manufacturing Company was an extremely important bridge builder in the late 1800s, and extant examples of the company’s work are rare. The Mickles Bridges represents an excellent example of King’s nineteenth-century bowstring-arch thru-truss, and also a great example of King’s patented tubular arched bridge. The Mickles Bridge is also the only known nineteenth-century highway bridge in existence in Yell County and represents an important reminder of the early transportation networks of the county.
 A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region. Chicago: Goodspeed Brothers, Publishers, 1894, p. 40, and Ferguson, Todd.“Yell County Courthouse, Yell County, Arkansas.” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. From the files of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 1992.
 Burr, David. H.Map of Mississippi, Louisiana & Arkansas exhibiting the post offices, post roads, canals, rail roads, &c. Map. London:J. Arrowsmith, 1839.
 Colton’s Railroad & Township Map of Arkansas Compiled from the U.S. Surveys and Other Authentic Sources. Map. Unknown Publisher, New York, 1854.
 Houp, Randall. E-mail to Robert Scoggin of the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department. 19 August 2006.
 Swanda, Michael. “Springfield Bridge, Faulkner County, Arkansas.” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. From the files of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 1988.
 Scoggin, Bob. Telephone conversation with the author. 29 June 2007.
 Houp, Randall. E-mail to Robert Scoggin of the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department.19 August 2006.
Burr, David. H. Map of Mississippi, Louisiana & Arkansas exhibiting the post offices, post roads, canals, rail roads, &c. Map. London: J. Arrowsmith, 1839.
Colton’s Railroad & Township Map of Arkansas Compiled from the U.S. Surveys and Other Authentic Sources. Map. Unknown Publisher, New York, 1854.
Ferguson, Todd. “Yell County Courthouse, Yell County, Arkansas.” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. From the files of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 1992.
Houp, Randall. E-mail to Robert Scoggin of the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, 19 August 2006.
A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region. Chicago: Goodspeed Brothers, Publishers, 1894.
Swanda, Michael. “Springfield Bridge, Faulkner County, Arkansas.” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. From the files of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 1988.
I have seen these types of floorbeams on a very small number of very old truss bridges. I believe that Columbia Bridge Works experimented with them. I can't think of any other Kings off the top of my head that used them. They seem to be an extremely rare find in general.
Agree with tinkering designs. Certainly easier to fabricate angle over extruded star. Worked the same. But what are these floorbeams?
Tony' answer certainly seems logical. King had also used simple round stock, ie poles for outriggers as well. The outriggers do not seem to have been quite as standardized as one might expect.
I have seen both cruciform and angle used on outriggers on several pony trusses, so perhaps this experimentation was not limited to King.
I have found that many of these firms always seemed to be tinkering with their designs, and this could possibly be an explanation here Julie. To me it would appear that these would be easier to produce than cruciform bars.
Interesting...let me think about this...these mysteries are one of my favorite aspects of bridges...
This may or may not be the right answer...
But I have found that before 1875, King used cruciform iron on just about all verticals and outriggers. It seems to me that they added more lacing later. But, that is purely based on a few that I have looked at.
Was the angle iron a modification? If it was original, perhaps King used it on their later bowstrings. I think that WIBC had similar members, if I recall based on my memories of the Independence Bowstring in Kansas.
This bridge confounds me. The verticle posts are angle, not cruciform. The floor beams are very different, looking towards fishbellies. 1880 vs 1883 McIntyre, just is wierd. Castings are right, trusses and shoes, bottom chord are also right. The sway bracing also is cool yet odd.
I could not remember my log in and password to post the photos with the bridge up above! Thought you might like to see it with the hub-rails!
The day of the dedication for the Danville Bowstring bridge is November 12, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at Danville City Hall located on Hwy 10. If you can please come and celebrate with us.
Shari & Randall Houp
Update with a nice picture:
Thank you Bradley. To see her there by City Hall, oh I feel so relieved !! Just like you and so many other people, we were afraid of losing it to the Petit Jean River. Can't tell you how many times after a heavy rain we would run down to Danville and check her out. You know start straining your neck to see if it's still up on the piers!
Thanks to all who helped and believed with us.
So proud of yall that made this happen. I thought bridge was doomed to fall into the river at any time and be lost forever. Now about that Springfield - Des Arc bridge...
I totally agree that getting a bridge like this one secured is the first and most important step! We have lost a few unique spans this past year because no effort was made to do this.
I'm sure that it will be made a centerpiece of the community before all is said and done.
Yes Nathan preservation is the KEY!! I think that a walking trail is a good function for this bridge. Putting it back on it's original location was talked about but the threat of flooding and the cost was too much. The thought of this beautiful bridge going down the river in a flood and being lost like so many others, was too much. After working on this project for so many years, with so many other people it becomes like your child and you want to protect it show it off but protect it.
You can find an article online titled" Historic Iron Bridge returns to Danville". I tried to attach the link but could not.
Also, the old photograph should have been given credit to Steve Coger of Danville. Clarke was the original photographer.
This is a good process for preservation. With any historic bridge the first priority must be given to removing the bridge from any risk from floods or faulty abutments. If that means putting it on the ground in a non-functional format for 20 years, that's a better solution than leaving it where it was and allowing it to collapse... as sadly happens far to often. I am glad to see this bridge will not become yet another statistic!
Sounds like they have a good plan...and the bridge is now safe from flooding and such!
Yes a lot of consideration was given to the original location. Would set to close to the now "cement ugly" that is now in use and other factors.
The bridge is not finished, it will not remain like it is now. It will be part of a walking trail. There is a volunteer Iron Worker that will repair and replace parts.
Then cleaned up and painted, a wood floor added. This is Randall's wife answering your question and will make sure that when he returns the he reads this and make corrects and additions if necessary. Thanks Shari
Glad to see it saved but it looks like a Calder sculpture just sitting there over the lawn. Was any consideration given to placing it back over the river there in town?
Here are a few photos of the bridge move and the last photo is at her new home at the Danville City Hall!
Glad to announce that the Danville-Mickles Bowstring Bridge has been moved!! Yes that's right finally we have moved it to its new home located beside the Danville City Hall!! There are so many I would like to thank for their support of this project. I WILL get back with the names!! It is always a great thing when an old historic bridge can be saved. All my "real bridge hunters" can still contact me at my private email, you had asked me if I would keep it up and have decided to do so. Thanx again.
Greatly appreciate your support on this project. Will report end of next week on committee meeting and who is all involved at this time. Have back issues of Yell County Record with a lot of Danville-Mickles Bridge history in it at no cost to you. Please send mailing address to my e-mail address if interested. THANK YOU for your support and for offering to help. Its greatly appreciated! More to follow.
We at Workin' Bridges are very interested in this bridge and could provide some consulting to your group towards the costs for a move and restoration. Visited this bridge at the same time as working with Judge Scroggins in Faulkner County and love saving bowstrings. Julie
We at Workin' Bridges are very interested in this bridge and could provide some consulting to your group towards the costs for a move and restoration. Visited this bridge at the same time as working with Judge Scroggins in Faulkner County and love saving bowstrings. Julie
Working diligently to get this historic bridge, the 2nd oldest in Arkansas, moved back to Danville, Arkansas and completely restored. A special committee is meeting next week in Danville to begin the process of saving this bridge. An extensive history pertaining to this bridge is currently being published in several issues of the newspaper at Danville, in the Yell County Record. Back issues still available. Updates to follow.
History of the bridge and surrounding area
I visited the bridge today. It is absolutely amazing to see something like that looming from the past, just hanging there. I was looking very closely at the trees where the road should have been. These are hardwood trees, and would have taken some time to grow to the heights that they are. I would like to know the year that it was abandoned, for I feel it would have to have been in the 1930's or very early 1940's. If anyone can help me out on this, I'd appreciate it.
Searching for early photographs of this bridge after it was moved to Mickles in 1922. At one time there was a post-office known as "Foraker" at this location and the Fowler Store operated by a Joseph S. Fowler. Any early photos of Mickles or Foraker? Area also known as "Mickles Switch" because of the old Chicago, Rock Island, & Pacific Railraod that first ran through the area in 1899. (Randall Houp, Yell Co. Bridge Historian, Yell Co. Historical Society).
I am the Mayor of the Village of New Bremen, Ohio and we are on a quest for another bridge to be used as a footbridge over a section of the Miami Erie canalin our village.
We already have a cast iron bowstring there which is beutifully restored. It was built in 1864 as part of a three span bridge over the Auglaize River in Wapakoneta, it was moved in 1894 to the Moulton Angle Road near New Knoxville. It is the oldest bowstring bridge in Ohio and one of 74 iron bowstring bridges known to exist. The type was “exceptionally suitable for short highway and canal spans” and has been inventoried by the National Park Service’s Historic American Engineering Record (HAER). Until 1984 it was used as a short highway bridge and after being moved to New Bremen it has been narrowed and used as a canal span. It was designed by David H. Morrison, founder of the Columbia Bridge Company, Dayton, Ohio
If the Danville-Mickles Bowstring Bridge does not find a home, we would be interested in bringing it to New Bremen.
never mind... here is just about all there is to know: http://www.arkansashighways.com/historic_bridge/National%20R...
visited this bridge for the first time 8.8.09. not much to say that has not already been said. it looks like it could plucked up and moved to a place all could enjoy. maybe someday. i am really interested in the history of this bridge. can anyone help?
thanks to the discover of this bridge!
We have five of these in the North Country region of NY state a few near the Erie Canal (such as Boonville, connected with a short but pleasant Canal Walk path) and one up in Canton NY (St. Lawrence Country) which has just been restored. These five were apparently designed by the same individual. I didn't know there were others elsewhere in the US and even in the UK!
I'll add a picture of the one in Canton if I can get a chance to take a photo soon.
Interesting. I have family in Danville, must remember to find this the next time I'm up there.
My wife and me have taken pictures of this bridge.We went bridge hunting one weekend taking pics of bridges.This one we found after running into someone else bridge hunting.
Visited this bridge at 3:30 pm on 11 Nov. 2006. The banks of the Petit Jean were silty slick from recent rise. There is a lot of vegetation obstructing this bridge and it stands fairly high in the trees, making it difficult to get good photos. It looks naked without approaches or decking.
Webmaster's note: The photos that were here have been incorporated into the main site.
The DANVILLE-MICKLES BOWSTRING BRIDGE is going to be nominated in April 2007 for the National Historic Register. Plans are underway to have this bridge moved back to its original location across the Petit Jean River at Danville Arkansas. The original piers built in 1879 still exist, but are in very poor condition and will have to be rebuilt. Going before the Mayor and the Danville City Council soon. On Febuary 19th I am giving a presentation and talk on the bridge for the Yell County Genealogical & Historical Society at 7pm at the Dardanelle Public Library. We have their full support on this project.
Further updates to follow......
We were delighted to receive an email on 5/3/06 from Shari and Randall Houp asking if we knew anything about this bridge, which we did not. As descendants of Zenas King, the founder of the King Iron Bridge Company, we have been documenting the history of the company and tracking any of their bridges that still remain on our website at www.kingbridgeco.com. This is indeed an exciting new find and must be one of the oldest of the Z. King patented bowstrings still around, joining the Springfield Bridge in Faulkner County, the Fort Laramie Army Bridge, and the Hale Bridge in Anamosa, Iowa (the later two still have the same type of builder's plate as this bowstring.)
If there is local interest in restoring this bridge for some historic or functional purpose, our family charitable gift fund would be glad to make a contribution. Allan King Sloan
i am sure James of H.B.of the Mdwst / and everyone else for that matter - are tired of hearing me praise my friend Bob Knight for telling me about this bridge. too bad, we owe this man so much. Robert at the highway dept. has already thanked him, as have i. but if you other bridge lovers feel obliged to, then by all means thank Bob yourself. It is Bob Knight, not me that gets credit for bringing this bridge to our attention.
his address is simply:
Plainview, ARK. 72857
My future wife and I are avid Steel Truss Bridge hunters. Last Saturday,May 27,2006, we came across the Petit Jean Bowstring Bridge. We are going again tommorow, June 3,2006. We are also very interested in the history of this bridge. Our research has found so far the following possible information: From the book,HISTORY OF YELL COUNTY ARKANSAS, by Wayne Banks, published July 1959, pg. 68 " The first real progress in road construction was the erection of two steel bridges over Petit Jean, one with a 100 ft. span at Danville, and still another over the route between Dardanelle and Hot Springs.These bridges were erected in 1879". Could this be the date of our "new" bowstring bridge??? More research to follow, including research on Mickles, Arkansas. If anybody has any information whatsoever on this bridge or others, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you Bob Knight of Plainview Ark. for directing me to this bridge. for 30 plus years i have driven on hwy. 10 south of this bridge never knowing it existed. imagine my suprise on sat. may 20, 2006 when i followed Bobs' directions and found not a Pratt Thru Truss structure as is common on the Petit Jean, but instead this historical Bowstring. LET US ALL TAKE INSPIRATION FOR OUR SEARCHES. I was directed to this bridge in a casual conversation at the car races one night, hom many more forgotten bridges in America are waiting to be discovered?GET OUT THERE FOLKS !!!!