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Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Day in Waco, Texas

Today was our day to visit a few sites in Waco... One that we had read so much about was the Waco Suspension Bridge. So off we went early in the morning to check it out.

Waco’s Historic Suspension Bridge was the longest single-span suspension bridge west of the Mississippi when it was completed in 1870. The bridge was built with cable supplied by the John Roebling Co., who built the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. Crucial to traders and travelers for well over a century, the bridge stands as an icon of Waco history. The bridge operated as a toll bridge from 1870 to 1889, when it was sold to McLennan County. The county turned it over to the City of Waco
to operate as a free bridge.

Until late 1869, crossing the Brazos River at Waco could be a risky undertaking. Until then, the only way to cross was by ferry or by fording the river when the water was low. Capt. Shapley Ross had operated a primitive ferry across the river at Waco since 1849. But the Brazos could be treacherous after a rain and sometimes was impassable for days at a time. Especially to the cattle drives coming through the growing town on the Chisholm Trail, that needed a more secure crossing.

The Waco Suspension Bridge triggered Waco's transformation from frontier outpost to city. The waves of immigrants heading west after the Civil War used this easy way across the Brazos. These travelers also needed supplies and equipment of all kinds, repairs for their harness and fresh horses and mules. Waco met their demands, and it prospered and grew. The year the bridge opened, there were slightly more than 3,000 people in Waco. Ten years later, the population had more than doubled to 7,295.

Major reconstruction was done in 1913-1914. The pier towers were rebuilt and stuccoed, with the medieval crenelations supplanted by a much plainer design. Stronger steel cables replaced the original ones. Steel trusses were added on both sides to enable the span to carry heavier loads and to provide walkways. The bridge reopened in 1914 and was used by vehicular traffic until 1971, when it was retired to the rank of historical monument.

Today it is open for pedestrian traffic in a park just east of the Waco central business district near the site of the original Waco Springs. The Waco Suspension Bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. This bridge is an incredible structure and if you ever get a chance to visit this area I highly recommend that you go see it and reflect on how it must have been in days gone by.

Until Later... Have FUN, Travel Safe & Enjoy Everyday!


Justine said...

I think it's so neat that they've kept the bridge standing even though only for pedestrians. What a great piece of history!

Justine :o )

Jerry and Suzy said...

Now you have whetted our appetite to visit Waco! THanks for the neat story about a neat bridge. Showing pictures from all angles was a good idea!

Kat said...

Good grief Donna. We've lived an hour from Waco for 28 years, and I can't count how many times we've been through Waco, and I never knew this existed. I feel a photo safari coming on.... thanks! Kathy

Baba said...

Good morning Donna, you visit the coolest places across the states.This bridge and it's history is fun to read about and you do a great job of keeping us informed on your sites as you travel around the USA... have a good day. hugs, Baba

Anonymous said...

Well that was really interesting.Good info on it to.



Mark and Dortha said...

Donna, I have to say I have been to Waco a million times and have never been to this bridge. I have put it on my list. Thanks for sharing!

The Muse said...

Extraordinary shots...love the one with the narrowing perspective!

That instills prose at first glance.

Glad you are out and on the road...and seem delighted in your travels!

Hootin' Anni said...

Donna...you took some fabulous photos!! Altho I have a deep bridge phobia, I am getting used to them a bit now that we're crossing causeways all over the place down here...those high, iron trestle ones still spook me tho. And just look at that blue sky in your pics....I'm so happy to see blue sky again in TX!!

Enjoy your stay.

SmilingSally said...

Suspension bridges always impress me. It's not so warm "down" here, Donna.

Anonymous said...

Hi Donna! Oh, you're in our old stomping grounds! Love that suspension bridge. Mr. Precious used to run across that bridge! Can you imagine wagons and horses going across that? Hope you're having fun!
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Bargain Decorating with Laurie said...

What a beautiful bridge Donna. You see so many different kinds of sights, and I love that you take us along. laurie

Happytrails said...

Absolutely fascinating! Thanks for sharing the information about the Waco Suspension Bridge. I would never have thought to put it on my list of places to see if it hadn't been for your post. Thanks!!

Continue to enjoy the journey!

Mike and Gerri

Kathy's Klothesline said...

You should be a tour guide! Great information and history!

Margie M. said...

Who knew Waco had such great stuff to see? Thanks for letting us all know. We'll have to go there now and check it all out!

Tinka said...

I lived in Waco in the late '60's. Never knew about the bridge. I probably went across it.
Now we will have to see it when we go through Waco sometime.

Carole Burant said...

Oh wow, what a beautiful suspension bridge, I so love all the details to it. You know, Donna, you're really making me want to go visit all the places you've been visiting!!! lol I'm really missing traveling right now but I'm too chicken to travel in Jan. & Feb. because our Winter weather can be so unpredictable. Come Spring, though, I'll be hitting the road:-) xoxo


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