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.