In Butler County, Kansas, there are over twenty stone arch bridges. Most of these bridges were built by C. C. Jamison. Charles C. Jamison was a highly prolific stone arch bridge builder, who appears to have worked primarily, if not exclusively, in Butler County. His work is characterized by high quality, which was obtained at a low cost. The Turkey Creek Bridge that he built in 1913 is no exception.
Turkey Creek Bridge’s Appearance
Turkey Creek Bridge is one of the few double-arch bridges remaining in Butler County. This modest stone arch bridge spans its namesake creek not far south of El Dorado, and actively carries SW 70th Street.
While the bridge is pretty basic, it is unique inasmuch as its two arches are dissimilar. One span is 30 feet, while the other is 20 feet. The reason for this choice of design is not clear, but some photos taken of the bridge face on suggest that the bridge is actually built with a gentle slope. If that is indeed the case, making one arch larger than the other would make the creation of a gentle slope for the bridge deck easy.
The bridge features massive blocks of stone, neatly trimmed to fit well together, though they are not template-cut. The bridge originally featured stone guardwalls, but these are largely missing, except for a fragment at the west end of the bridge.
Concrete scour aprons protect the foundations of this structure.
A Masterpiece Bridge
Turkey Creek Bridge was heralded as a masterpiece in its day. This bridge was praised highly, and it was said that it would last forever. The bridge certainly was a first-class job, and was recognized as one of the most substantial bridges in the county.
C. C. Jamison himself modestly observed that Turkey Creek Bridge was a good value for the money. At $1,000, C. C. Jamison said it was notably less expensive than an equivalent concrete bridge.
A Substantial Structure
The bridge certainly is substantial-looking. Most of the stones used are very large, and the arches are quite thick. This coupled with the arches’ relatively modest span gives the whole bridge a very heavy appearance. Though there is evidence of some slight damage to the upstream face of this bridge, the Turkey Creek Bridge remains as a tribute to C. C. Jamison’s quality, enduring work, and a tribute to Butler County’s unprecedented stone arch bridge building campaign.
Additional resource: Index of the Stone Arch Bridges of Butler County, Kansas