Letter 6, Wanderer published in The Press, Philadelphia, PA, Thursday, November 3, 1859, page 2.
Sam’s Hill, Shawnee Village, Indian Territory, Oct. 5,1859. (near Allen, OK on return trip from Seminole Nation and Little River/2nd Canadian River crossing ) (An extraction)
“Six bridges are being constructed upon the eastern end of Lieutenant Beale's far famed route to the Pacific Ocean, under an appropriation of money made by Congress for that purpose at its last session. The general supervision of the work is in the hands of Henry B. Edwards, Esq., of Chester, Delaware County, Pa.—son of the former member of Congress from the Sixth District—a gentleman in high respect with the chiefs and head men of the various Indian tribes occupying this country, and holding a vast influence with the Indians themselves, from his uniform and careful regard for their interest. I may as well say it here, as in another place, that, too frequently, teamsters of Government trains, and of trains owned by traders, make free use of the property of the Indians that roam at large in the several ranges, but that whilst Lieutenant Beale and Mr. Edwards have led large companies of men and cattle through this region, I have yet to hear the first word spoken against them. On the contrary, they are remembered in the kindest manner by all, and especially by the congregation of the little church near Billy Harjoe's, in the Creek Nation, for preventing trees being cut down and timber taken away for firewood, when, last fall, they encamped nearby, in the midst of cold and rainy weather.
The bridges are of iron. They were manufactured in Philadelphia, upon Murphy's improved Whipple plan, by the contractors, A. & P. Roberts & Co., and are being put up by J. R. Nevins, assisted by Messrs. Van Arden and Everett, also of Philadelphia. One is to cross the Poteau near Fort Smith, Arkansas; the second Red Bank Creek, near Skullyville; the third the Little Sans Bois; the fourth the Big Sans Bois; the fifth Longtown, or Frenchman's Creek, the last four in the Choctaw Nation; and the sixth Little River, in the Creek Nation. Upon a plan which the people here have, the latter is called Little River, because it is one of the largest, steepest-banked, and fastest running. It is about one hundred and eighty miles from Fort Smith. The abutments of all the bridges are built with the exception of those for the Poteau. Red Bank bridge is completed, and that at Little River will be in a few days, when the flooring has been put down. The Little River bridge is a beautiful structure. It crosses the river at the narrowest part. The banks are very high, and it leaps from the solid masonry close to one, to the other, with a spring as airy and as light as the skip of a fairy.
From the first, the subject excited the curiosity of the natives, and as the boxes arrived, and the iron pieces were turned out, they began to wonder how a bridge across the mad torrent of Little River could be constructed of them. Miccos—chiefs, large and small, and warriors, gewgawed off, in all the absurdity of savage pageantry, assembled upon the banks, and held a pow-wow over the boxes and their iron contents. "Henry B. Edwards, Esq., Fort Smith, Arkansas," the direction upon the boxes, was eagerly seized upon as giving some due to the mystery, but when one was found who could read it they were left as much in the dark as before. One arch of iron was stretched, and then they laughed—"Ha! ha! It t’aint wide enough for our ponies "—those, simple souls, who had never seen a bridge, deeming the arch was the bridge. Now both arches are up, and the roadways are levelled to the road-way of the bridge, the structure excites unbounded admiration. It is only with a stealthy step they were induced, at first, to approach it, much as if they were about to tread upon a rattlesnake; but now they hang upon it and around it as if their existence depended upon being near it.”