Texas Bridges Used in Film
By Melinda Luna PE, Chair, History & Heritage Committee
As Texans, we are all proud of the large number of functional bridges in our State. But did you know that a number of these bridges have served as backdrops for movies, TV shows, and music videos?
For example, A Perfect World, filmed in Texas in 1993, used Bastrop County’s Lower Elgin Road bridge, a 6 panel Pratt Truss built by the county in 1887 with a total length of 250 feet on CR 55 (Coats Road) over Wilbarger Creek. Before production, the film crew had the bridge inspected and had an engineer make sure that they understood any bridge use limitations. Since then the bridge has been used in the movie Michael in 1996, Exists in 2013, and Joe in 2014. It has also been used on the TV show Fear of the Walking Dead. This same bridge was additionally used in a music video by Grifter & Shills. The Lower Elgin Truss was damaged by floods in 2015 but repaired in 2018. In 2018, the city of Elgin considered moving the bridge to another location where it could be preserved and used as a film location. However, the budget constraints made it hard for this to happen. Currently, the bridge it is open to pedestrian traffic. More information on the bridge and its location can be found here.
Another bridge used in film is Hardin Slough Road Bridge, or Old US 380, over the Brazos River in Young County. This bridge is also called the Newcastle bridge. Netflix’s 2018 movie The Highway Men, about a Texas Ranger looking for Bonnie and Clyde, used the Hardin Slough Road Bridge as a film location to capture when the pair of outlaws came into Texas via the Red River. The bridge is a Parker Through truss with a total length of 850 feet. The makers of the film asked Young County for permission to film on the road closed to traffic, paid $1000, and cleared brush and improved the bridge for the filming. More information on the bridge and its location can be found here.
Another bridge that has been used as a movie backdrop is Moore’s Crossing in Richard Moya Park in Travis county. The Leftovers (Season 2), a mystery drama television series filmed in 2015, used Moore’s Crossing. The bridge is a 9 Panel Pin connected Whipple through truss that measures a total of 534 feet and 15 feet wide. Its main span once stood downtown on Congress Avenue from 1884 to 1910. The bridge made a good backdrop; however, the Austin production team had an engineer inspect the bridge and structurally evaluated as a few people and vehicles used the bridge during the filming. The engineer helped the crew understand the limitations of the bridge.
There are probably more examples of other bridges used in film and music videos. For example, the bridge dubbed Selena’s bridge on the Riverwalk served as a backdrop for a scene in the movie Selena, partially filmed in San Antonio in 1997. This arched stone bridge between North Saint Mary’s Street and Navarro Street attracts fans to the area.
With 55,600 bridges as of May 2020 in Texas, communities with historic and unique bridges can benefit from film use. If you are a community that has questions about your historic bridges, there are a few resources to help you. Some of these resources include the following:
- Historic Bridge Foundation
- Your local Historic commission
Feel free to reach out to an engineer you know or ask me questions via email at [email protected]. Texas can provide both interesting bridges and engineers to evaluate them as they serve as backdrops for films. Just another example of how civil engineers play a role in serving the people of Texas.