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Canadian River Wagon Bridge

Canadian River Wagon Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: August 3, 2019

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Pedestrian Walkway (Former US-60 and US-83) Over Canadian River
Canadian: Hemphill County, Texas: United States
Structure Type
Metal 7 Panel Pin-Connected Pratt Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Rivet-Connected Warren Pony Truss, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1916 By Builder/Contractor: Canton Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
155 Feet (47.2 Meters)
Structure Length
3,255 Feet (992.1 Meters)
Roadway Width
16 Feet (4.88 Meters)
19 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

This bridge is the longest known simple span pin connected highway truss bridge in the entire country. After being abandoned without a deck for many decades, the bridge was redecked for pedestrian use. Considering the length of the bridge, this is a very impressive preservation success story!

The history of the bridge is somewhat confusing. The Historic American Engineering Record states the following:

This 3,255'-0"-long structure is the longest pin-connected bridge in Texas, and was the state's longest metal truss bridge prior to the completion of the Rainbow Bridge connecting Orange and Port Arthur in 1938. Two previous bridges at this site built in 1888 and 1889 were washed away by floods, and after some delays, voters finally approved a 1915 initiative to build a more permanent crossing of the river. The structure completed in 1916 included seventeen 155'-0" long and 27'-0" high pin-connected Parker through trusses for a 2,635'-0" total length. The 16'-0" roadway rested atop concrete piers with steel footings driven 65'-0" into the riverbed. When high water widened the river in 1923, the county paid the Austin Bridge Company of Dallas to provide four additional Parker through trusses with the same dimensions and the same substructure. This increased the bridge's length by 620'-0". By the 1950s, the 16'-0" roadway had become too narrow to safely carry passing traffic. In 1953, a new $1 million concrete and steel structure, built with state highway funds by the Austin Bridge Company of Dallas, bypassed the original bridge.

Assuming the above history is correct, the four additional spans from 1923 are identical to the 1916 spans. This would be unusual since by the 1920s, pin-connected truss spans were no longer being built. Even the 1916 spans are late examples of pin-connected truss bridges. Also, missing from the Historic American Engineering Record, is the fact that one of the pin-connected Parker truss spans (the fourth span from the north end) were replaced with two rivet-connected Warren pony truss spans. It is unclear what date this occurred. The Warren pony truss spans are of standard riveted design.

This is an extremely difficult bridge to get a photo showing the whole bridge. Drone videos of the bridge are available on YouTube. View Drone Video 1 and View Drone Video 2.

Click here to view a YouTube Video of a full walkover of the bridge, which includes views of the pony truss span (preview screenshot below).


Photo Galleries and Videos: Canadian River Wagon Bridge

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