The Indian Territory in the Civil War Message Board

Re: Beale Wagon Road’s Six Iron Bridges in IT

I have added my best estimates of the GPS coordinates for the six Whipple bowstring truss bridges built by 1860 for the Federal Government along the Beale Wagon Road going west from Fort Smith in Indian Territory. No other region of the country, outside of along the Erie Canal in New York, had for one year prior to the Civil War such a collection of technically superior, prefabricated, iron bridges. Bridge designer Squire Whipple, often called the father of the iron bridge in America, was selected in 1868 as its first honorary member by the resurrected American Society of Civil Engineers. GPS bridge locations [North lat., West long.] in degrees + minutes. are:

1. Poteau River, 7.4 miles south of Fort Smith, just below the mouth of Cedar Creek (two-100 ft. spans), [ 35 17.00 N, 94 27.90 W ],
2. Red Bank Creek, 5.3 miles west of Spiro (50 ft. span), [ 35 14.13 N, 94 42.81 W ],
3. Otter Creek, 1.4 miles southwest of Keota (50 ft. span), [ 35 14.45 N, 94 56.37 W ],
4. Sans Bois Creek, 0.6 miles northwest of Iron Bridge (100 ft. span), [ 35 14.54 N, 94 58.02 W ],
5. Emachaya Creek, 0.8 miles west of Whitefield (50 ft. span), [ 35 14.90 N, 95 15.07 W ], and
6. Little River at Edwards Trading Post (100 ft. span), [ 35 0.44 N, 96 23.28 W ].

The first five bridges were in the Choctaw Nation, the sixth in the Creek Nation. All were built along the Beale Wagon Road near the 35-th Parallel (North) as authorized by the U.S. Congress.

When the smoke cleared following the Civil War, all six of the Whipple bowstring iron bridges in Indian Territory had been functionally destroyed. Lt. W. W. Averell reported that the Poteau River bridge had already been “destroyed” by 4-27-1861. See page 7 of "Lieutenant Averell’s Ride at the Outbreak of the Civil War" by Muriel H. Wright, Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 39, No. 1, 1961, pp. 2-14. Remains of the stone bridge abutments at Red Bank Creek and of the crumpled iron bridge structure at Sans Bois Creek were reportedly still visible about 1933. See page 77 of “Survey of A Wagon Road from Fort Smith to the Colorado River” by Grant Foreman, Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 12, No. 1, March 1934. The bridge abutments at Little River could likewise still be seen. See pages 79-80. Footnote 12 on page 80 states: "The (Little River) bridge recommended by Beale was accordingly constructed here and was destroyed during the Civil War. At a low stage of the water the abutments may still be seen in place on each side of Little River. This bridge was located between Edwards Trading Settlement on the right (west) side of the river and the site of old Camp Canadian or Fort Holmes on the left (east) side, the latter being near the residence of Mr. Nicholas Bilby. "

Similar Existing Whipple Bowstring Bridges can be seen at:

1. Poteau River - https://bridgehunter.com/ny/columbia/shaw/
2. Red Bank, Otter & Emachaya Creeks - https://bridgehunter.com/ny/monroe/ehrmentraut-farm/
3. San Bois Creek & Little River - https://bridgehunter.com/ny/albany/whipple/

Messages In This Thread

Five Beale Wagon Road Iron Bridges in IT
Redbank Creek
Sans Bois Creek
Re: Sans Bois Creek
Re: Five Beale Wagon Road Iron Bridges in IT
Re: Five Beale Wagon Road Iron Bridges in IT
Longtown Creek
Poteau River
Poteau River Beale Iron Bridge Location
Re: Poteau River Beale Iron Bridge Location
Re: Poteau River Beale Iron Bridge Location
Beale Bridge Location Not "E Street"
Re: Beale Bridge Location Not "E Street"
Re: Beale Bridge Location Not "E Street"
Beale Wagon Road's Carnall St. Bridge in Ft. Smith
Re: Poteau River Beale Iron Bridge Location
Re: Poteau River Beale Iron Bridge Location
Carnall Ave. Crossing of Poteau--It's a FERRY
Summary: Beale Wagon Road Iron Bridges in IT
Emachaya Creek was a Beale Wagon Road Iron Bridge
Otter Creek was Little Sans Bois
Beale Wagon Road’s Six Iron Bridges in IT
Re: Beale Wagon Road’s Six Iron Bridges in IT