2 votes

Jefferson Highway Old Channel Verdigris River Bridge


As seen from E0505 at Okay, Oklahoma

Photo taken by Gene McCluney in June 2009


BH Photo #140930



Written by Gene McCluney

It is always a treat to actually "discover" a long abandoned bridge. Our Delorme Topo mapping software showed a road crossing the old channel of the Verdigris at Okay, Oklahoma, yet there was no listing for this bridge on any web site. We went anyway, and were surprised to find the bridge still mostly intact. It now crosses the old channel of the Verdigris to an island, as the newer navigation channel was cut further west, cutting off the road. The land is an island with no access except by boat, as this bridge is not traversable. A pony span approach has fallen into the river on the east side. It appears that there is at least one pony truss span on the west side, but the roadway is so overgrown it is difficult to tell if there is another. The center pier has crumbled under the south support for the west through truss, and it leans.

This is an old bridge. It has small structural members for its size and it is pin connected. It still has its wood deck, which is surprising for a bridge abandoned so long. I would guess this bridge dates to about 1910-1912.


Abandoned multi-span camelback through truss bridge over Verdigris River (Old Channel) on E0505 in Okay
Okay, Wagoner County, Oklahoma
Originally carried SR 16 across the Verdigris, was abandoned when new Navigation channel was cut.
2 Camelback through truss spans with at least 2 pony truss approach spans, one of which has fallen.
Also called
Former alignment OK 16
Approximate latitude, longitude
+35.84691, -95.32250   (decimal degrees)
35°50'49" N, 95°19'21" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/290256/3969458 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Northeast Muskogee
Land survey
T. 16 N., R. 19 E., Sec. 19
Inventory number
BH 42664 (Bridgehunter.com ID)


Abandoned (3,747)
Built during 1920s (10,012)
Camelback truss (378)
Jefferson Highway (46)
OK 16 (1)
Okay, Oklahoma (1)
Oklahoma (2,009)
Pony truss (16,364)
Pratt pony truss (3,689)
Pratt truss (9,450)
T.R.U.S.S. Award (1)
Through truss (15,364)
Truss (33,275)
US 69 (46)
US 73 (1)
Wagoner County, Oklahoma (24)
Wooden deck (6,100)

Update Log 

  • January 26, 2021: Updated by Jason Smith: Added category "T.R.U.S.S. Award"
  • November 18, 2019: New photos from John Cross
  • October 3, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added photographs
  • September 24, 2010: New photo from Nathan Morton
  • June 4, 2009: Essay added by Gene McCluney


  • Gene McCluney - gmacfilm [at] live [dot] com
  • Nathan Morton - morton890 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Luke
  • John Cross - jcrossiam [at] gmail [dot] com


Jefferson Highway Old Channel Verdigris River Bridge
Posted April 30, 2021, by Darrell W Powers jr (Systemofadown311 [at] outlook [dot] com)

From today

Jefferson Highway (former alignment OK 16) Old Channel Verdigris River Bridge
Posted January 26, 2021, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)
Jefferson Highway Old Channel Verdigris River Bridge
Posted November 18, 2019, by John Cross (jcrossiam [at] gmail [dot] com)

I too suspect the 1920's date is correct. It is my experience in documenting bridge now for about 20 years the a strong clue can be found in the concrete. Please correct me if I am wrong. It seems most all concrete forms in the twenties were from 1x or 2x boards and NOT plywood as done later in the 30's.

In this bridge you can not only see in the piers the telltale signs of the individual boards but also the layering and cracks formed by "successive" concrete pours. I suspect too this maybe the cause of failure (successive pours of concrete with too much set time between pours) and cracks in the central monolithic pier.

It also appears this was an earlier alignment of OK 16

The channel relocation and McClellan–Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System forced the removal, replacement and raising of many bridges along the system. This construction was done in the 60s and completed in the early 70s.

Jefferson Highway Old Channel Verdigris River Bridge
Posted January 22, 2016, by Wes Kinsler (webmaster [at] wkinsler [dot] com)

The design features of this bridge strongly suggest pre-WWI.

Bridges built new in the 1920's were of heavier construction.

Jefferson Highway Old Channel Verdigris River Bridge
Posted October 4, 2013, by Clark Vance (cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com)

There are some pretty well documented examples of pinned connections used into the late '20s.


It might be something about longer spans.

Jefferson Highway Old Channel Verdigris River Bridge
Posted October 4, 2013, by Matt Lohry

I would argue the 1925 build date. This bridge appears to be pin-connected, and pinned connections were long gone by 1925.

Verdigris River Bridge (Old Channel) at Okay, OK
Posted October 3, 2013, by Tom Hoffman

This massive bridge would be a neat one to restore.

Verdigris River Bridge (Old Channel) at Okay, OK
Posted October 3, 2013, by Jay Bissell (jay_54714 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

The Oklahoma Bridge Survey site states that the bridge was built in 1925. It is a four span, mixed truss bridge with the longest span being 200 feet long. The total length is approximately 500 feet.

Verdigris River Bridge (Old Channel) at Okay, OK
Posted May 10, 2011, by junior wilson (edgar wilson [at] live [dot] com)

this bridge was used for the jefferson highway, us 73 and us 69 and then possibly ok 16

Verdigris River Bridge (Old Channel) at Okay, OK
Posted December 1, 2010, by Tony Robison (trobison [at] entzhuffman [dot] com)

I have a lot of memories of the old bridge too. It was closed shortly after I moved there in the 70's. You could still drive over it till sometime in the mid 80's when they installed beams on the east side to prevent cars from entering. It should still have my name on it as well as hundreds of others, ha. You can still get to it by foot over the earthen dam on the northwest side of the island. Tony Robison

Verdigris River Bridge (Old Channel) at Okay, OK
Posted November 11, 2009, by vicki Kay (vickikay3333 [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

I remember as a child (early 1960s ) my father would would hold my brothers 2 and 5 years on his lap, he would let them steer as we drove over the bridge to my grandparents house...My grandfather would walk us to Haps bate shop and then take us fishing under the bridge I have many happy memories Thanks for the pictures

Vicki Kay.. Grandparents Tom and Beth Hilbern