The Indian Territory in the Civil War Message Board

Six Beale Wagon Road Iron Bridges in IT

Harry B. Edwards should get a lot of credit for building the following six cast and wrought iron, bowstring arch truss bridges in Indian Territory along the Beale Wagon Road during a six-month period beginning in the latter half of 1859.

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 ] [North lat., West long., degrees+minutes.], T9N, R27E, Sec. 5 ;

https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/survey/default.aspx?dm_id=21581&sid=3nui35lq.r2h#surveyDetailsTabIndex=1
Gene McCluney’s essay: https://bridgehunter.com/ar/sebastian/poteau-river-iron/
Whipple bowstring example: https://bridgehunter.com/ny/columbia/shaw/

2. Red Bank Creek, 5.3 miles west of Spiro (50 ft. span), [ 35 14.13 N, 94 42.81 W ], T9N, R24E, Sec. 24;

https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/survey/default.aspx?dm_id=21545&sid=2a0kgsmp.yxd#surveyDetailsTabIndex=1
Whipple bowstring example: https://bridgehunter.com/ny/monroe/ehrmentraut-farm/

3. Otter Creek (Little Sans Bois), 1.4 miles southwest of Keota (50 ft. span), [ 35 14.45 N, 94 56.37 W ], T9N, R22E, Sec. 23/24;

https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/survey/default.aspx?dm_id=21522&sid=2jsz3dd3.2ya#surveyDetailsTabIndex=1
Whipple bowstring example: https://bridgehunter.com/ny/monroe/ehrmentraut-farm/

4. Sans Bois Creek, 0.6 miles northwest of Iron Bridge (100 ft. span), [ 35 14.54 N, 94 58.02 W ], T9N, R22E, Sec. 22;

https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/survey/default.aspx?dm_id=21522&sid=2jsz3dd3.2ya#surveyDetailsTabIndex=1
Whipple bowstring example: https://bridgehunter.com/ny/albany/whipple/

5. Emachaya Creek, 0.8 miles west of Whitefield (50 ft. span), [ 35 14.90 N, 95 15.07 W ], T9N, R19E, Sec. 13; and

https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/survey/default.aspx?dm_id=21487&sid=pymxvmx2.eiu#surveyDetailsTabIndex=1
Prior to these ODOT bridges: https://bridgehunter.com/ok/haskell/55100000000000/
Whipple bowstring example: https://bridgehunter.com/ny/monroe/ehrmentraut-farm/

6. Little River at Edwards Trading Post (100 ft. span), [ 35 0.44 N, 96 23.28 W ], T6N, R9E, Sec. 8.

https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/survey/default.aspx?dm_id=20086&sid=cdms5ti5.gf1#surveyDetailsTabIndex=1
Gene McCluney’s report: https://bridgehunter.com/ok/hughes/little-river/
Whipple bowstring example: https://bridgehunter.com/ny/albany/whipple/

Beale's Trusted Friend Harry B. Edwards

I have wondered how E. F. Beale got the six iron bridges noted above built so quickly for his Beale Wagon Road to the Pacific. The six bridges were located along a 180-mile stretch of his survey while passing thru Indian Territory (IT) in early November 1858 as Beale was working his way all the way back to California by 1859. The bridges were prefabricated in Philadelphia during middle 1859, disassembled, shipped by steamboat to Fort Smith, all installed back along the Beale Wagon Road in IT by late 1859 (except for Poteau, but it got done as soon as the local politics could be resolved). There was no telegraph connection yet to the West. So “How did Beale get it done?”

The answer seems to be that Beale recognized that he would need to solve this “hurry up” problem, and chose his trusted friend Harry B. Edwards of Chester, Pennsylvania for such a daunting task. Edwards must have had the construction and iron work experience (back in Pennsylvania) necessary to successfully accomplish the task, because he did.

Beale got Edwards to join his survey and construction team in Fort Smith in late October 1858. Then Edwards worked with Beale on siting and sizing up each iron bridge as they worked their way west in IT in early November. Edwards was still with him on November 5 when Beale decided to build (as it turned out) his last iron bridge, the one across Little River at Edwards Trading Post (Aird’s Place). As Beale moved on further west along the ridge line between the Canadian and Little Rivers, he recognized the land was becoming drier and that only the re-crossing of the Canadian lay ahead (from Marcy and Whipple’s surveys) which might need an iron bridge. He sent a scouting (pioneer) party ahead to find the best Canadian crossing site--near Slaughterville. Beale soon decided not to bridge it, so he considered the site-selection for iron bridges done. On November 15, 1858, Beale ordered Edwards to return back east and superintend the design, fabrication and construction of the six iron bridges that had been selected, as noted above. The next day, November 16, Mr. Edwards headed back from Beale’s camp near Slaughterville (near Choteau’s Old Trading Post) to begin his Iron Bridge building—a job well done.

See page 13 of https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015030947298

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"
Stephen, Looking Back
Re: Stephen, Looking Back
Whipple's Iron Bridges?
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Beale Wagon Road's Carnall St. Bridge in Ft. Smith
Re: Poteau River Beale Iron Bridge Location
Re: Poteau River Beale Iron Bridge Location
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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
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