Historic bridge settling in to new home

Bach Steel workers set up rivets Monday to move forward in the installation phase of the Springfield-Des Arc Bridge project. The bridge was moved from its previous home on the Faulkner-Conway County line and will now be located at Beaverfork Lake.

The installation process of reassembling the Springfield-Des Arc Bridge at Lake Beaverfork is picking up.

 

Bach Steel owner Nels Raynor and other crew members were on site installing rivets Monday.

Raynor said progress is moving along smoothly now that all repairs to the bridge’s many pieces are complete.

“I’m hoping we’re going to stand the other truss up by Friday and maybe the following week put [the bridge] up across the lake,” he said.

Raynor said his workers repaired damages to the 142-year-old, 146-foot iron bowstring truss bridge after it was dismantled and moved from its previous home across the Cadron Creek on the Faulkner-Conway County line in Springfield.

Conway Chief of Staff Jack Bell said the city looks forward to the project’s completion.

“We’re pleased with the progress they’re making and [are] looking forward to it being finished,” he said.

The Springfield-Des Arc Bridge is the oldest highway bridge in Arkansas.

It is one of the earliest bowstring bridges built by the King Iron Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio.

It was fabricated to withstand the weight of 30 cows in 1871 in a small branch shop at Iola, Kansas, where it was later transported down the Arkansas River to Lewisburg, which is near Morrilton. From there, it was moved to its home on the Faulkner-Conway County line.

Installation was complete by 1874 and the decision to move the now-rundown bridge was made last year.

“It was busted up pretty bad but we got it fixed … it was in bad shape [but] we’ve restored the whole thing,” Raynor said, noting vertical posts and some of the strapping was broken. He also said the upper part of the arch had several cracks in it.

Raynor said the bridge will be sturdy and that passersby will be able to walk over the bridge once the project is complete.

“You can walk across it or even drive across it if you wanted to,” he said.

Workin’ Bridges is overseeing the move and installation of the historic bridge.

 

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