4/13/09

My World - an engineering masterpiece

In 1915, Hemphill County contracted with the Canton Bridge Co. of Ohio to erect a bridge over the Canadian River, on the edge of Canadian, Texas. The Canadian River Wagon Bridge was completed in just a year and was the largest metal structure west of the Mississippi in 1916.

The bridge spans 3,255ft, after an expansion was made to it of 4 additional spans in 1923, when the river cut a new channel. The bridge became a part of SH 33 (State Highway) and fell under the jurisdiction of the Texas Highway Department.

The bridge carried pedestrian, horse, wagon and eventually motorized traffic over the years and was a source of great local pride. I took alot of my pictures in monochrome shades to evoke visions of it's history. It is easy to picture it with wagons along it's lengthy span.

In 1937 major repairs were necessary after heavy usage; the timber flooring, stringers, straighten trusses and reinforced railings were replaced or added to it. As can be seen in the shot above, due to its size, even repairs were a major undertaking.

The bridges 1923 trusses are the latest known examples of pin-connected metal truss spans in the state of Texas. This technology has now been replaced by riveted connections. When you're standing on it and looking around, the engineering is very impressive and almost artistic in its lines.

Construction on a new cement bridge adjacent to the old bridge, began in February 1951. Just two months later, a span on the old bridge collapsed when a 10-ton carryall was travelling across it. Eighteen months later a second span collapsed, increasing the urgency for the new bridge, which was completed in July 1953.

The old bridge was removed from service and became eligible for the National Register, due to it's importance as a local and regional transportation route, as well as being a major engineering accomplishment.

On July 1st 2000, after 5 yrs of restoration, the bridge was reopened and is now part of a scenic hiking and biking trail over the Canadian River. This was the first time I have ever seen the bridge free of pedestrians thanks to the rain, and so it was the perfect opportunity for a private photo shoot! It is a wonderful piece of local history and a feat of great engineering beauty.

To join in the fun go to My World Tuesday

32 comments:

willow said...

Interesting post and FAB-ulous photos, Sarah!

sixstars said...

Interesting history and well taken photos. I would like biking across the bridge.

Martha said...

You got some great shots of that old bridge and great history. Thanks for sharing.

Sassy Britches said...

How completely fabulous. I love hearing about the history of landmarks like that, and the photos are so intriguing!

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Great post Sarah. I love it. Wonderful pictures and impressive research.

Rob Inukshuk said...

Wonderful piece of local history and so cool that it has been saved and restored and now used by the community. Very good pics that convey the all that you have explained. Thanks for sharing.

ewok1993 said...

What a fascinating bridge. I like it a lot.

Marites said...

a bridge with a lot of history. It really is an impressive and awesome-looking bridge. The engineering feat in building and restoring this one is admirable. I really like the last pic.

LadyFi said...

What wonderful photos. I love the tunnel, funnel feeling of the bridge in your shots.

Indrani said...

Interesting read. So well presented with bits of information.

nadia said...

I love reading about the history behind such fabulous landmarks. Your beautiful pictures make reading even more fun! You are right, this bridge is indeed an engineering masterpiece.

Jill of All Trades said...

GREAT pictures.

karen said...

beautiful bridge photos!

Erin said...

just love the perspectives of the bridge that you snapped...great shots each and every one!
and indeed it is an engineering masterpiece that deserved the recognition it received :)
have a great day.

WhisperingWriter said...

Stopping by from SITS.

This was very interesting. I love history.

pamokc said...

Well you KNOW that I am in love with these photos, especially that one on the bridge. such a cool spot, thanks for sharing these. One place I'd love to visit!

Louise said...

That's quite a bridge, and I cannot imagine as a pedestrian sharing it with wagons and later cars.

Daryl said...

You outdid yourself, Sarah, these are all so good ... so perfectly illustrative of the text! I am glad it rained, I know your part of the country needed it, so you could get such perfect shots!

* TONYA * said...

I have a thing for bridges. They are so magnificent.

You took some wonderful photos of it.

Bogey said...

Damn that's awesome. What a glorious oportunity and I love the way you took your pics. It added that real old time feeling to them. It's amazing the history we find in our own back yards.

Sherri said...

Sarah, thanks for the wonderful history lesson of this bridge! I love the one picture of the bridge with mist at the other end-amazing!

Wren said...

It looks very safe and sturdy, which I value more and more in bridges. Great photos, Sarah - I really felt like I was standing by the bank looking across the span.

david mcmahon said...

My favourite is the third shot, Sarah.

George said...

The monochrome photos are great for this bridge. Thanks for a very interesting and informative post.

Mary said...

I love the bridge pics!

I've awarded you the Zombie Chicken award. Come pick it up at my blog : )

SandyCarlson said...

Bridges are where art meets science. Great pictures.

fishing guy said...

Sarah: What a neat story of the bridge in your world. Very nice photos and history. Canton, Ohio is the home of the Football Hall of Fame.

Arija said...

What an absolutely wonderful engineering feat! They did build some amazing bridges in days of yore. I an so glad this particular wonder has been treasured and restored.

Merisi said...

Beauty restored,
and you captured it so masterly!

Congratulations on being on David's POTD Award list! :-)

Louise said...

Just came back to say Congratulations on the POTD from Authorblog. This is a great one to be honored!

Sabenindam said...

Beautiful pictures and great history reporting! And now I know there is a Canadian river in Texas... I wonder how it got that name!

Lew said...

Great pictures of the old bridge! We have some locally that are of that vintage, but none as long as yours. Most are in rural areas and the county is restoring them when they need repair, rather than replace them with concrete and steel.