Another interesting stone arch bridge in Butler County, Kansas, is the 1908 Cedar Ford Bridge by C. C. Jamison. This large 40-foot-span stone arch bridge is in excellent condition, and is a well-built structure. The bridge is a segmental arch of graceful proportions, and shows well the beauty of simple design. However, the Cedar Ford Bridge does have a major peculiarity that really becomes obvious in dry weather. Though the bridge does still actively carry SE Pickrell Road, one may sometimes wonder, what exactly was this large stone arch bridge originally intended to span?
The Construction of Cedar Ford Bridge
Cedar Ford Bridge was let early in 1908. The county specifically called for a 40-foot-span stone arch bridge, as can be seen in the call for bids in the February 26, 1908, edition of the El Dorado Republican. According to the account of the commissioner proceedings in the March 13, 1908, edition of the Walnut Valley Times, the contract was awarded to C. C. Jamison for $730. This is also confirmed by the El Dorado Republican published the same day. By July 7, 1908, according to the El Dorado Daily Republican, the county commissioners were ready to accept the bridge.
What’s In A Name?
The Cedar Ford Bridge was originally named after the locality, which was known as Cedar Ford in the early 1900s. Cedar Ford was a prosperous region, known for its highly improved homes featuring electricity and running water. The stone arch bridge was called “the Rock Creek stone arch bridge at Cedar Ford” by the March 13, 1908, edition of the El Dorado Republican. As Cedar Ford was the locality where the bridge was built, it is not surprising that the bridge was the Cedar Ford Bridge. The name Cedar Ford is now obsolete, and this bridge is now commonly known as the “Rock Creek Overflow Bridge.” This modern appellation brings up an interesting point: “the Rock Creek stone arch bridge at Cedar Ford” no longer spans Rock Creek proper!
Where and When Did the Creek Go?
The Cedar Ford Bridge, once spanning the large Rock Creek, now spans a sort of gully which only carries a real flow when the creek is way up. Most of the time, the Cedar Ford Bridge spans a stagnating pool under the west side of the bridge. Rock Creek has moved southward. The long south approach of the Cedar Ford Bridge ends at the approach of a concrete bridge that carries the road over the creek proper. This concrete bridge is itself quite old, the contract for it having been let in 1917 (see the November 2, 1917, edition of the El Dorado Republican), a mere nine years after the original Cedar Ford Bridge was erected. To date we have been unable to find anything in old newspapers explaining what exactly happened to the Cedar Ford Bridge. Based on appearances of the mostly-filled-in gully the Cedar Ford Bridge spans, it appears that the Cedar Ford Bridge was originally built across an oxbow in the creek. What seems to have happened is that, likely by flooding, a new channel for the creek was cut through the road, bypassing the bend the stone bridge is on. The creek no longer going under the stone arch bridge, the stone bridge was left on a slowly filling-in, miniature oxbow lake that carries flowing water in floods. The stone arch bridge would have still been needed to cross this flooding gully, and the concrete bridge would have been needed to cross the creek proper.