When I happened upon this photo on Pinterest, I was reminded that I had not added this historic bridge to Texans United, and it definitely needs to be here, for its significance to Waco and Texas in general was great.
Erected in the post Civil War era (about 1870), the bridge (over 475 feet long) was the longest suspension bridge in the world. More importantly to Texas, the monster bridge was also the first to span the Brazos River.
While those of us who grew up on the westerns that once dominated television might want to romanticize the days of driving cattle to market, often swimming entire herds across rivers to do so, can you just imagine what this bridge meant to those who were actually doing the work? While I have not verified the amount charged per head to use the bridge, the nickel claimed by the Pinterest blurb had to have been a bargain, even in the late 19th century!
Reports of the cost of building the bridge vary from about $130,000 to $140,000, but all agree that the jobs the construction created were huge and that the tolls charged upon its completion soon paid for the project. In about 1889, McLennan County passed a bond to pay $80,000 to the bridge company to purchase the bridge outright. The county then sold the bridge to the city of Waco for the sum of one dollar.