This bridge was one of the largest suspension bridge spans in
the world when the original structure was completed in late 1869/early 1870. In
1913/1914, most of the original bridge structure was replaced, including the
cables and stiffening trusses. As such, a 1914 construction date can easily be argued
to be more
appropriate for this bridge. The large brick towers appear to be the only major
remnant of the original bridge and even they appear to be substantially altered
from the original design. Despite this, even when considered a 1914
bridge, this structure is a rare example of its type, and an extremely beautiful suspension bridge that forms a
historical centerpiece for Waco. Large pony stiffening truss with built-up beams
featuring attractive v-lacing, riveted lattice railings, and towers with arched
bracing make this bridge attractive.
The bridge features a warren pony truss approach span at
the northern end of the bridge.
The bridge has been preserved for non-motorized use,
having been closed to vehicular traffic in 1970.
The original 1870 bridge was shown in two places on an 1873
Bird's Eye View map of Waco. These images are shown on this page.
Bridge Summary From National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form
Discussion of Bridge
An early suspension bridge with two double cable
towers of pink brick (now stuccoed) with superimposed arches connecting
the two piers of each tower and crossing the road bed. Toll houses and
walls terminate both ends of the bridge. The original crenellation,
pierced openings, and fine detail has been removed or stuccoed over, but
the general lines of the structures are still architecturally
interesting. The toll houses have stepped gable roofs, parapets, and
round arched openings now closed up.
The Waco suspension bridge
was the first bridge across the Brazos River and the longest single span
suspension bridge in the world when it was built. It was chartered by
Waco stockholders November 1, 1866. Col. John T. Flint, President of the
Waco Bridge Company, went to New York and contacted the John A. Roebling
Company (the Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883). The engineer Thomas
M. Griffith was sent to Waco to design the bridge. It has a 475 foot
span and the cable and pieces were tooled at eastern foundries and
shipped to Galveston. They were then sent on part of the way by rail and
the rest of the way by ox teams. Thousands and thousands of local brick
The bridge was opened January 7, 1870 and functioned
for twenty years as a toll bridge with a 24 hour toll keeper. On
September 1, 1889, it was purchased by McLennan county for $75,000 and
conveyed to the city for one dollar.
A severe flood in 1885
damaged the east approach and a steel span was built for this section.
Later the windows and doors of the anchor houses and towers were closed
and the brick construction was covered with plaster. The bridge is still
in daily use.
Alice. The Magic Bridge. Waco, The Heritage Society of Waco, n.d.,
Liecke, Jay; Mogas, Richard; Fields, Earl. Waco
Suspension Bridge. Unpublished Student Paper. Architecture Archives,
University of Texas, Austin, Texas n.d.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes, this bridge is listed with
reference number 70000850.
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