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Congress Avenue Bridge (1884)


Congress Avenue Bridge (Oldest)

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BH Photo #467285


At least three more bridges spanned the Congress Avenue site after the pontoon washout. In 1876, a wooden toll bridge was built in the same spot. In 1883, a herd of cattle smacked into a mule-drawn wagon and the subsequent stampede damaged one span of the bridge and hundreds of cattle were flung into the river to their deaths.

That collapsed span was replaced in 1884 by a more modern bridge of metal trestles laid over limestone uprights. The price to cross the bridge on foot was five cents; for another nickel you could take your horse. At times, it was controlled by the Swisher family, who owned much of the land in South Austin, including what is now the Travis Heights and Bouldin neighborhoods.

In 1886, the city of Austin and the Travis County Road and Bridge Co. purchased this bridge. The city took complete control in 1891, by which time the toll had been abolished.

That bridge survived the big flood of 1900. When it was replaced by a concrete structure in 1910, sections of the old bridge were moved to Onion Creek just south of what is now Austin-Bergstrom International Airport at a spot known as Moore’s Crossing. Located in Richard Moya Park, that old ghostly bridge is no longer safe for vehicles, but pedestrians stroll across it when the park is not restricted because of flood damage, which is not infrequent.


In addition to his role in reconstructing the first bridge in Austin, Raymond was also involved in a grander bridge enterprise. In 1880, the Travis County Road and Bridge Company was organized, with Raymond as president. Although it is unclear what was accomplished by this organization prior to June 1886, in that month the multiple-span iron toll bridge completed at the foot of Congress Avenue in 1884 was bought by the company and made a free bridge.

WEST SIXTH STREET BRIDGE (West Pecan Street Bridge) HAER No. TX-51


Lost Whipple through truss bridge over Colorado River on Congress Avenue
Austin, Travis County, Texas
Replaced by a new bridge
Built 1884 by the King Bridge Co.; replaced 1909; in 1922, the three remaining 1884 spans of the Congress Avenue Bridge, apparently still in storage after all these years, were erected at Moore's Crossing in Travis County.
- King Bridge Co. of Cleveland, Ohio
- Travis County Road & Bridge Co.
Pin-connected, 9-panel Whipple through truss with 6+ spans
Approximate latitude, longitude
+30.26155, -97.74526   (decimal degrees)
30°15'42" N, 97°44'43" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
14/620702/3348434 (zone/easting/northing)
Inventory number
BH 88424 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • July 4, 2022: New photo from Jesse Sharkoman Berube
  • January 23, 2022: Updated by Paul Plassman: Corrected truss type from Pratt to Whipple
  • March 4, 2020: New photo from Geoff Hubbs