The Philadelphia Connection
The birth of the Beale Wagon Road in 1859, the first federally-funded wagon road to the Pacific, was eminently connected to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Edward F. Beale’s home was located in nearby Chester, PA, and so was his brother-in-law, Henry (a.k.a. Harry) B. Edwards. His six iron bridges for the wagon road, located in Indian Territory, were fabricated by the Pencoyd Iron Works and Bridge Company located in suburban Philadelphia. The bridges’ design-build contractor was the A.& P. Roberts & Co., 410 Walnut St., Philadelphia, who were major owners of the Pencoyd Iron Works. John W. Murphy, a protégé of Squire Whipple, served as an iron bridge engineer for A.& P. Roberts & Co. Murphy soon formed the Murphy-Whipple Iron Bridge Company, in January 1861, at 333 Walnut St., one block down the street from A.& P. Roberts & Co. Construction in Indian Territory of the six Whipple bowstring iron bridges was headed J. R. Nevins, assisted by Messers. Van Anden and Everett, also of Philadelphia.
Thus, the construction of the Beale Wagon Road in 1859 in Indian Territory was an important news story for the major newspapers of Philadelphia. One Philadelphia newspaper, The Press, sent a young correspondent out to Indian Territory to cover the Beale story and write any other “letters” about the local Indian Nations he felt Eastern readers would read. This young man wrote at least seven letters about his trip to Indian Territory under the pseudonym of the “Wanderer,” a common literary practice of the day.