|Built in 1901 or ‘02
Days numbered for county's only overhead truss bridge
With the road closed and construction of a modem structure well under
way, the days in the life of the county's only remaining overhead truss
bridge are numbered, marking an end to providing passage that began a
"This bridge has done its Job. It's the only one like it left in
the county and for years it was the only way to cross the creek In the
area," said Peewee Smith, Craig County District #3 Commissioner.
"A lot of people really hate to see it come down, but we don't have
a choice - the liabilities to the county for one thing."
Built in either 1901 or ‘02 and located on East Road 345, the
structure looks more like some thing you would find in Madison County,
not Craig. Nestled in a small forest of trees over Cabin Creek in
southern Craig County. the bridge has been in use a century.
According to modem day engineers; constructing the bridge was no
small feat. Without bull dozers or backhoes, blood, sweat and tears were
the tools of the trade for laborers in those days.
‘They built the bridge with their hands and their horses, not
with heavy equipment like we use to day." Smith said. "They
put a lot of time into It and I'm sure they intended for it to last
forever, and it did. Up until we closed it a week or two ago, it was
still being used every day."
The Cabin Creek bridge may very well be one of only a handful of its
kind still standing. It is definitely one of the only such bridges still
in use in the state of Oklahoma, according to Smith.
"Most counties in Oklahoma operate on the same five-year plan
that we do here when it comes to roads and bridges." Smith said.
"Every year we look at the bridges In this county and which ones
need the most repairs and have the most traffic. It started out as a
five-year thing. one a year, so each year we fix one and we add one,
until were done."
While being the last overhead truss bridge still standing in the
county is quite a distinction, It's not the structure's only claim to
fame. It Is also the logo and partial inspiration behind Cabin Creek
Vineyards, owned by the family of J.W. Harris, a county commissioner at
the time of its construction.
"We decided to use the bridge on our label for several reasons.
the obvious being that it is a beautiful structure that symbolizes the
old west and the beginnings of Craig County," said Robert Harris,
vineyard owner with his wife, Pamela. "It's such a timeless,
historic structure that it just takes you away. Looking up at it, if you
didn't know better you may think you were in Walnut Grove.
"With our families connection to this particular bridge,"
he added, "we felt like it Just captured what we wanted to bottle.
We hate to see it go, but it has to and we understand."
And go it will. According to Smith, the old bridge will be re moved
once construction on the new one is complete, sometime in September.
"I know that a lot of people don't want to see it taken down,
but we have no choice," Smith said. "We can't just close it to
traffic and let it go at that because there are too many risks that go
along with it. It is pretty, but i don't think the taxpayers want to be
responsible if some one drives over it or fishes off of it and is
injured. That is where the board stands on this."
The Iron and steel frame will be replaced with a concrete and steel
bridge, much like the one recently constructed over Bull Creek in
"It's going to look basically like the other bridges we've built
throughout the county in the last few years." Smith said. "Two
lanes, a shoulder, and It will be built straight across the creek rather
than at an angle. It's going to be about four months until it is
complete and open for traffic."
The new bridge Is being built at an estimated cost of $1.3 million,
funded entirely through federal and state dollars as part of the ongoing
five-year bridge plan In Craig County.
By KENDRA WIGELSWORTH Journal Reporter
Vinita Daily Journal, May 8, 2002