The Final Tally: Stone Arch Bridges Built by Butler County, Kansas

Sycamore Springs Bridge

Butler County, Kansas, though less known than its southern neighbor Cowley County for its stone bridges did indeed build many of these structures. In a previous series of posts, we explored the locations and builders of these bridges. Now, with that information, we’ve been able to compile a list showing who built how many bridges and how many remain. This is an interesting comparison, for some of the builders in Butler County appear to have been quite successful, while for other builders none of their bridges remain. In this post, we will show, to the best of our knowledge the number and percentage of the bridges built in Butler County per builder and for the county collectively.

The Builders of the Butler County Bridges

Below is the table of the bridges and builders of Butler County with the number and percentage remaining. Please be aware that we have no way to take into account why a bridge was replaced; some were likely replaced due to being too narrow, while others failed during service. Indeed, Walter Sharp built a 40′-span bridge over the Whitewater River that was damaged a few years later, which was then replaced with a 50′ span at the same site also built by Walter Sharp. Also, C. C. Jamison’s first stone bridge for the county was badly damaged in 1915, and C. C. Jamison replaced it. In both these instances, we counted the original bridge and the replacement bridge in our statistics below, as they were essentially two separate structures, though some of the pieces of the originals may have been reused.

Builder# Built# In Active Use# Extant But Abandoned# Status UnknownRemarks
Butler County5920 (34%)1 (2%)4 (7%)
Eli Warren10 (0%)0 (0%)0 (0%)
Walter Sharp183 (17%)0 (0%)0 (0%)One of the actively used Walter Sharp bridges was heavily altered by Abe Matheney a few years after Sharp built it. Two of the bridges we counted as Walter Sharp’s were built in conjunction with a business partner of his (“Sharp & Jones”). The wing walls (approaches?) for one of the “Sharp & Jones” bridges were built by O. Markley.
C. C. Jamison2212 (55%)1 (5%)1 (5%)
Abe Matheney95 (56%)0 (0%)0 (0%)As per our current knowledge, one of these bridges will likely be reconstructed in 2025.
Owen Jones10 (0%)0 (0%)1 (100%)
Joseph Sharp30 (0%)0 (0%)0 (0%)
O. Markley11 (100%)0 (0%)0 (0%)As per our current knowledge, this bridge will likely be reconstructed this year (2022).
Kiser & Sons10 (0%)0 (0%)0 (0%)
Unknown Builders30 (0%)0 (0%)2 (66%)
The chart showing the builders of the Butler County bridges and how many remain. The chart is organized by the order in which various builders appeared on the Butler County stone bridge building scene, with bridges by unknown builders moved to the bottom of the table. The percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

As can be seen from the table above, while there were quite a few builders in Butler County, most of the bridges were built by Walter Sharp, C. C. Jamison, and Abe Matheney. It is worth mentioning that Abe Matheney and Walter Sharp also did extensive bridge work in Cowley County.