At the start of the Civil War, there were several brand new Whipple Cast & Wrought Iron Bowstring Arch bridges built in Indian Territory under a special federal contract. The bridges had been previously sited by E. F. Beale’s federal survey of 1858 along (an immigrant trail to California) that later became known as the Beale Wagon Road from Ft. Smith (-Spiro- Stigler-Whitefield-Eufaula-) thru North Fork Town to Edwards Trading Post, and therefrom on to California via Santa Fe, New Mexico.
While I believe that the following five bridge locations were built, there may have been a sixth. OK (highway) 9 (and 9A near Baden) closely follows this old military road (Fort Smith-Fort Holmes-Fort Cobb x Fort Reno) as the wagon road crossed the northern Choctaw Nation just south of the Arkansas River to North Fork Town (Eufaula).
The five Beale Wagon Road bridges were:
1. Poteau River, Leflore County (near old bridge on OK 9A, West Arkoma, SW of Fort Smith)
2. Yellow Bank Creek a.k.a. Red Bank Creek, Leflore County (5 m W of Spiro). My best guess of the
bridge site is GPS: lat. 35° 14.136'N; long. 94° 42.819'W
3. Sans Bois Creek, Haskell County (9 m E of Stigler) GPS: lat. 35° 14.540'N; long. 94° 58.020'W
4. Logtown Creek, Pittsburg County (S of Eufaula)
5. Little River, Hughes County (5 m S of Holdenville) GPS: lat. 35° 0.440'N; long. 96° 23.284'W
Beale recommend not to build a bridge across the (South) Canadian River near North Fork Town (Eufaula), because it was over 150 yards wide, would have very high building cost and bridge complexity, and the sandy river bed could be usually crossed by fording.
Beale’s survey thru Indian Territory can be reviewed on OSU’s digital library holdings of the Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 12, No. 1 (March 1934), pages 77-79. The above five bridge sites were determined by Beale from October 26 to November 3, 1858 as he traveled west from Ft. Smith. Review of OSU’s COE document is complicated by COE’s provision of their paper about Beale’s survey, informational commentary on Beale’s log, and Beale’s journal log. I used OSU’s control page numbers to find COE pages of the combined relevant texts.
I personally like to visit battlefields so I can touch real places on earth and get a better feel of the battle. Did a civil war story published in a pretty book really happen like and where the author said it did? How about the Battle of Middle Boggy? Prices Retreat in Indian Territory? Thank God for The Honey Springs Battlefield Site! Thus my motivation for locating these five civil war era bridge sites in Indian Territory.
Additionally, Gene McCluney and Jack Beal Smith have significantly contributed to this goal. Please see
Gene McCluney at
Jack Beale Smith at
See Jack’s “Beale Wagon Road” in Facebook and his related work at
and Gene McCluney and Jack Beale Smith together at
The Logtown Creek bridge site is a bit of mystery to me, and any further information on it would be greatly appreciated.