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Texarkana & Ft. Smith Railway - Red River Bridge


View from South shore, looking west.

View from South shore, looking west. Notice snag boat on shore.

Photo taken by Al Spengler, Missouri University of Science and Technology

BH Photo #362477


Located at Index, the first bridge in the Texarkana area that crossed the Red River took an act of Congress to be constructed. On May 1, 1888, President Grover Cleveland signed a bipartisan act into law, authorizing a railroad bridge to cross at Index, with one key condition- the bridge had to include a 130’ pivot section that allowed boats to pass through. The Texarkana and Fort Smith Railway Company built a bridge the very next year.

Controversy soon surrounded the new bridge, when Peter Parsons, a local steamboat operator, reported today’s equivalent of $24,000 worth of damage to his boat as a direct result of the bridge. Parsons filed suit against the railroad, arguing that if the pivot section had been the congressionally required 130’ wide, the accident could have been avoided. Agents for the court determined that the pivot section was 125’ in width, 60 inches too short. The case went to trial on April 17, 1896 in Texarkana, and Parsons won. The Railroad Company was forced to pay for a new boat for Parsons and tear their seven year old bridge down.

The burden this court ruling placed on the railroad forced it into financial panic, allowing for Author Stilwell’s Kansas City Southern Railway to purchase the line. KCS constructed a new bridge in 1900 which still stands today.


Lost Pratt through truss bridge over Red River on Texarkana and Fort Smith Railway,Kansas City, Texarkana, and Gulf Railway
Little River County, Arkansas, and Bowie County, Texas
Replaced by a new bridge
Built 1889, replaced and demolished in 1899.
- Texarkana & Ft. Smith Railway (T&FS)
Pratt through truss
Also called
First Index Brdige
T&FS - Red River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+33.55212, -94.04550   (decimal degrees)
33°33'08" N, 94°02'44" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/402944/3712987 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 73410 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 12, 2019: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • August 28, 2016: Added by Austin Ardwin

Related Bridges 


  • Douglas Butler


Texarkana & Ft. Smith Railway - Red River Bridge
Posted July 9, 2022, by Jesse Sharkoman Berube (jesseberube5 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Brad is right. picture 3 is not the same bridge. i think i found another picture of that said bridge on picture 3 but location was not given. you can also see a vehicular bridge in the image which seems to be further apart than the index bridges


Texarkana & Ft. Smith Railway - Red River Bridge
Posted August 3, 2017, by Brad Smith (gaberdine [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Here is my thinking....Picture 3 is dated 7/6/19 Roughly when the Index (Highway) bridge opened. It is looking from south to north. Index Bridge is on the right and the 1900 Railroad bridge is on the left.

The railroad bridge is lower. The bridge on the left (and lower) is a Parker Through Truss (Rounded top...Camelback).

This bridge had a flat top (Pratt.)

Right crossing wrong place on the timeline?

Any thoughts?

The number COULD be a photo#, but from looking at the lay of the land today, low bank on the south and the high bank on the north, this almost has to be the south bank.