A Masterpiece of Stonework: The Wolf Creek Bridge

Wolf Creek Bridge

In the northern part of Oklahoma is a masterpiece of stonework: the Wolf Creek Bridge. This stone arch bridge, located in the Kaw Wildlife Management Area five miles east of Newkirk, spans Wolf Creek in a single, massive span. The structure features first-class stone work — each stone has been cut to fit precisely with its neighbors.

Location

The road has been abandoned and the bridge no longer carries traffic. Nevertheless, it is immediately visible from the parking area of the entry off of River Road into the Kaw Wildlife Management Area.

The Wolf Creek Bridge is in outstanding condition, no doubt related to the quality of construction. It is also easy to view.

This bridge ranks among the longest stone arch spans in Oklahoma. It is conveniently close to Arkansas City for those who are going to Cowley County, Kansas, to see the county’s famous stone arch bridges. Well worth a short jog across the border to see.

Wolf Creek Bridge
The downstream face of the Wolf Creek Bridge. This structure is located in the Kaw Wildlife Management Area in Oklahoma, about five miles east of Newkirk

Workmanship

It is apparent that the bridge does not rely on mortar for its structural integrity. The bridge is in the backwater of a lake on the Arkansas River and goes underwater periodically. This periodic inundation does not seem to have affected the structure too much, though there is a little bit of fill washed out above the arch and at the approaches. The fact that some of the fill is gone from the top of the structure means that the arch joints are readily visible, revealing how well built the arch is, with very tight joints. This means that the structure is quite sturdy.

This is an example of the enduring nature of a well-built stone arch bridge, for the structure is in fantastically good condition, and will likely look good for another hundred years to come.

Wolf Creek Bridge
Tight arch joints are representative of the quality of the workmanship in the Wolf Creek Bridge. This gives this bridge great strength and allows it to endure the passage of time with little maintenance.

History

While we were unable to find anything conclusive in newspaper records regarding the origin of the Wolf Creek Bridge, it appears likely that the bridge was built in 1914 by M. Herber.

The Ponca City Democrat stated that this Newkirk bridge was “said to really be one of the best ever put up.” This and earlier newspaper references to a “fifty-foot span stone arch bridge across Wolf Creek east of Newkirk” built by Mr. Herber almost certainly refer to the Wolf Creek Bridge.

The Wolf Creek Bridge is not only very scenic in architecture, it is also a first-class piece of masonry and ranks among the most well-built stone bridges in the Midwest.