This bridge sits in the middle of 4 groups of private property and is not really viewable to the public. Please don't trespass. This abandoned 1909 Pratt Thru-truss single-span bridge on stone piers crosses a dry oxbow of the Little River in Hughes county, Oklahoma. Research leads us to believe it "may" have been at or near the location of a circa 1859 Beale Road Iron bridge (military bridge), which was one of six locations in Eastern Oklahoma, that Whipple patent Iron bridges were constructed along the route of the Beale Road. This existing abandoned bridge is very near the site of Edwards Trading Post, which was active from the 1830's thru the 1870's, The Beale Road was surveyed and constructed ending in about 1859, as a major wagon route to California. It started in Fort Smith, Arkansas and south of Fort Smith crossed the Poteau river and ran West to California.
The attached newspaper photo/story says the 1909 bridges are being built on "concrete and steel" piers. To me this suggests, considering it is 1909, Lally Columns, which were riveted steel cylinders packed with rubble and concrete. An inexpensive method of construction. This bridge is on Stone piers, it is 100ft in length. The original 1859 Beale Road bridge across Little River was on Stone piers and was 100ft in length. This suggests to me that the original 1859 piers "might" have been refurbished and used, possibly enlarged. The mortar looks to me to be just external, as a way to seal things, and could have been added any time between 1909 and 1948. We do know that all the 1859 Beale Road Iron bridges (6 in all) were erected on masonry stone piers. Given that both the original 1859 Whipple patent Bowstring bridge and this 1909 Pratt thru-truss bridge are 100ft. in length, and the 1909 bridge is on stone piers that would be correct for the older bridge, and given that it appears to be located in the correct location of the original Beale Road bridge of 1859, it is easy to surmise the piers were reused.
I have spent over 40 years researching the Beale Wagon Road that went from Fort Smith, Arkansas to Los Angeles, California. This road was the Southwest's first federally funded interstate highway. being built between the years 1857-1860. The Beale Bridges were built during the years 1859-1860. The total cost of the road and bridges was $285,000. The Beale Road has been marked with historic signs through the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma is being signed at present. Gene has been of great assistance to me in my research on the Beale Bridges. Jack Beale Smith. The photos of the 1909 bridge were taken by Mike Shockley of Holdenville, Oklahoma.