Historic Central Texas bridge gets a reprieve

(Photo by Paul J. Gately)
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GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) The future of the 1904 Leon River bridge, in Gatesville, was somewhat secured last week when the span was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Gatesville City Manager Bill Parry said Monday he was notified that the bridge was designated a national historic place, which means the bridge must be maintained and must not be destroyed.

"That old bridge is where that old bridge is going to be for the foreseeable future," Parry said.

Parry said the Texas Department of Transportation in recent weeks has completed an inspection of the structure and "the bridge is safe," Parry said.

It is a 137-foot-long Pratt through-truss span with a 5-foot timber approach and is one of just a few such bridges that remain standing in Texas.

The bridge is of steel construction with a wooden deck and lattice-work railing, sitting atop members connected by steel pins and graced by stone structured abutments at either end.

A state historical marker at the bridge says the structure was built by the George E. King Bridge Company, of Des Moines, Iowa, and that it opened to traffic in 1904.

It also is the only east-west bridge other than the U.S. Highway 84 Bridge that crosses the Leon River in Gatesville.

It is a recorded Texas landmark.

Coryell County and the City of Gatesville reached an impasse last fall concerning which entity should be responsible for the care and maintenance of the bridge and Coryell County commissioners terminated a bridge contract the county had with the city.

Commissioners closed the 112-year-old bridge after they became concerned about the integrity of the steel and wood structure.

But Gatesville native Roger Miller, a member of the Facebook Group, 'Save the 1904 Leon River Bridge' filed two complaints with Firth about the closure of the bridge.