Pudden Bridge (Esch’s Spur Bridge): History and Heritage

Pudden Bridge

After extensive research, we are now releasing for the public An Illustrated History of Esch’s Spur Bridge — the large triple-arch stone bridge near Dexter in Cowley County, Kansas which is on the National Register of Historic Places. This bridge is also known as Kirk or Pudden Bridge.

Pudden Bridge
The downstream face of Pudden Bridge.

We have taken the time to research and write out a detailed and illustrated history of Pudden Bridge, available in the following downloadable document, in which we have given the history of the bridge up to very recent time, largely taken from newspaper articles, which sources we have referenced. This information is, surprisingly, not very well known. This document will provide an interesting read that will will give readers a very clear idea of what went on during the construction of Pudden Bridge, the challenges that were occurred during construction, and its historical significance.

As we have mentioned in a previous post, the triple-arch Pudden Bridge near Dexter in Cowley County, Kansas, also known as Esch’s Spur Bridge as well as Kirk Bridge, is in eminent danger of being lost due to the partial collapse of the middle arch of the bridge, though, as of summer of 2022, is still intact. The bridge is probably stable except for when floodwaters rise high enough that debris can ram the middle arch. The bridge is also in danger of being demolished to make way for a replacement.

Technically, the damage that the bridge has sustained is quite likely repairable, though such repairs are more difficult and specialized, and, therefore, rather expensive. Ultimately, of course, the decision of what to do with Pudden Bridge is up to the people of Cowley County, Kansas. Regardless of the fate of Pudden Bridge (also known as Esch’s Spur Bridge and Kirk Bridge), it is our hope that this history will be interesting and informative, for it tells a broader tale in the history of the stone arch bridges of Cowley County.

An Illustrated History of Esch’s Spur Bridge

Additional resource: Index of the Stone Arch Bridges of Cowley County, Kansas