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 Texas : Architecture : Bridges :

Smithville, Texas

LIFESPAN OF A SPAN

Smithville’s (2nd) Colorado River Bridge
1915-1950

Photos and Captions Courtesy of the Smithville Historical Society
From Arcadia Publishing's Images of America Series: Smithville, Texas

Ay, tear her iron girders down!
Long have they spanned the river,

Generations have picnicked beneath her shade
And heard her shake and quiver.

She served Smithville for nearly two score years,
Over waters warm and frigid,

We can only hope that her concrete niece
Will prove to be as rigid.

(With apologies to Oliver Wendell Holmes)

Notice the ferry
This March 16, 1915, bridge construction photograph exhibits the latest in bridge-building technique. This replacement for the [first Colorado River Bridge c. 1900] destroyed in the 1913 flood carefully cantilevers across the Colorado River, spanning north from the town side. A similar segment of the bridge approaches from the opposite riverbank to ultimately link at mid-span.
Smithville TX Colorado River Pontoon Bridge

Civilians Cross the Colorado River on the Army's Pontoon Bridge
The damaged bridge is visible in the upper right hand corner.

“In the mid 1940s, having survived the 1935 flood, the river bridge was forced to be temporarily closed as a result of a structural impairment caused by a military bulldozer being transported across it. Since there was no other bridge between La Grange and Bastrop, the Army Corps of Engineers quickly assembled a floating pontoon bridge just upstream to handle the vehicular traffic. Townsfolk held picnics and watched the construction from the riverbank.”
Smithville TX Colorado River Bridge Demolition
Impeccable timing: The Colorado River Bridge at the moment of demolition
“By September 8, 1950, the 1915 Colorado River overhead box girder bridge had fulfilled its intended purpose. Capturing another moment of the city’s history, Fred Moree, Smithville’s noted photographer, caught the center span of the bridge in a midair free fall after demolition charges were detonated to bring down the obsolete and damaged structure.”
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