Andes Bridge

Deck of the Andes Bridge

The Andes Bridge, which is listed on the National Register of Historical Places, is one of four double-arch bridges in Cowley County, Kansas. (The others include the Neer, Rock Creek, and the Fromm bridges—the smaller west arch of the Fromm Bridge was buried by the county to prevent collapse.)

In 1909, Walter Sharp built the Andes Bridge, originally known as the Jordan Bridge, named after the local landholder at the time. The Andes Bridge is unique in that it uses two dissimilar arches. One arch is a round Roman arch, while the other arch is long and flat. It is unclear why this unusual approach to construction was used, but it may have had something to do with characteristics of the bedrock on which the bridge rests. One interesting fact about this bridge is the concrete apron around the pier. According to the National Register of Historical Places form for this bridge, the concrete apron was added by Walter Sharp himself in the 1920s.

Andes Bridge
The Andes Bridge. The dissimilarity between the two arches is not as obvious from the road as straight on, but still can be seen from this picture.

With Silver Creek peacefully flowing and sparkling under this old stone bridge, the wide open sky overhead, and some shade available at the edges of the stream provided by oak trees, it is little wonder that this quaint setting has been popular with picnickers for years. The Andes Bridge, also known locally as “old swimming hole bridge,” provided an ideal place to wade into the creek (it is very shallow at that point), picnic, perhaps swing on the old rope swing hung from a tree, and swim in the old swimming hole. In the old days, the shallow part of the creek was the local car wash — you drove around in a circle until your car was “clean!”

It is a peaceful place certainly, and it is small wonder that the Andes Bridge has held associations with the lives of several generations among the local residents. It is in fabulous condition, and well worth seeing.

Deck of the Andes Bridge
The deck of the Andes Bridge with the “car wash” and swimming pool visible to the right.

Photographing the Andes Bridge is best done with the aid of a “selfie stick.” These days, entering the creek without prior permission is prohibited.