by Johnny Stucco
Carnegie was perhaps the ultimate rags-to-riches story. After
becoming one of the richest men of his era, upon retirement he set
out to give his money away – with a vengeance. His gift of library
buildings across the English-speaking world is well known. (Two
Thousand, eight hundred buildings world-wide and nineteen hundred
and forty-six in the U.S. alone.)
Prior to 1872, Andrew
Carnegie had three passions: bridges,
railroad passenger cars and telegraphy. His iron mills were seen
as a subsidiary to his less-profitable Keystone Bridge Company,
which he himself called his “pet” interest. Carnegie’s passion for
that they provided monuments that would endure for generations and
that they required engineering and architectural design (when constructed
on a large scale). These were skills that Carnegie greatly admired.
While the first bridge across the Mississippi (at St. Louis) was
widely known as the Eads Bridge (after its designer James B. Eads),
it was, in fact, constructed by Carnegie’s Keystone Bridge Company.
The bridge was started in the summer of 1868 and completed in the
spring of 1874.
much has been written on the grand bridges, what are we to make
of this tiny bowstring bridge in Rosebud,
Texas? Formed of Carnegie steel, it clearly dates much later,
but there is no date-plate attached.
Was it an experiment that produced few examples before being abandoned?
Were the sisters to this sample turned into scrap for WWII?
Searching the Internet brought up few clues. The overwhelming content
for a “Carnegie Bridge” search reveals a beautiful span in Cleveland,
over the Cuyahoga River, however, the reference to the name Carnegie
is an avenue by that name that connects to the bridge. It is now
known as the Hope Memorial Bridge, after Bob Hope’s father,
a local stonemason. Who knew? This modest little bridge sits on
solid ground in Rosebud’s
city park, providing no information – only mystery.
Skupin (now of Houston)
called an old classmate who provided some information on how the
bridge came to be where it currently is, but nothing on its origin.
Tarver writes: “If I recall correctly from my youth, the bridge
was originally installed over Pond Creek in southern Falls
County. Excess erosion caused a new bridge to be installed. The
old bridge was purchased by the City of Rosebud
and the city paid to transport it to the city park to provide a
second means of egress for the park. I think the bridge was a ‘kit’
bridge manufactured by one of the Andrew
Carnegie’s foundries around 1900.”
For now, until more information is discovered, or until similar
bridges surface, Rosebud,
Texas has perhaps the only extant sample of a (small scale)
“Carnegie Bridge” in Texas.