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Waco Suspension Bridge, 1971 HCEL
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In 1870, the Waco Suspension Bridge, a 475-foot span, was the longest suspension bridge in the world at its opening. This solid, yet elegant structure rising above the Brazos River features two large towers on each bank, medieval-style turrets joined by an arch wide enough to allow two stagecoaches to pass in both directions. With its construction, the bridge removed a critical obstacle from the path of emigrants traveling westward; it also opened the western side to mass cattle migration, replacing the ferries that had previously been the mode of crossing.

 

The bridge was a private venture taken on by the Waco Bridge Co. The company obtained the steel trusses and wire cables from the John Roebling engineering firm of New Jersey. Distinguished civil engineer Thomas M. Griffith was also commissioned from New York to manage its construction. Griffith arrived in 1868; trusses and cables soon arrived by way of steamer, rail, and oxen, and locally manufactured bricks were assembled to finish the structure. Waco soon became a vital center of manufacturing and transportation as well as one of the critical cattle trails of the era. By charging five cents per head of cattle, the Waco Bridge Co. soon repaid the debts incurred during construction.

Owner: 
McLennan County
Engineer: 
Thomas M. Griffith (Civil)
Contractor:
George Dutton
Photo:
Michael N. Fowler, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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