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 the stone bridges built from 1882 – 1918. Now, with that information, we’ve been able to compile a list showing who built how many bridges and how many 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. Along these lines, be aware that the vast majority of the earliest stone bridges in Butler were often built with insufficient waterway per county requirements, and were also on the most important roads. Many of these important roads were later converted into dual lane blacktops, with the end result that many of Butler’s earliest stone bridges were likely replaced due to insufficient width or damage from being too small for the stream as opposed to the quality of the work per se.

C. C. Jamison and Walter Sharp both built a stone arch bridge which failed and was rebuilt again in stone. In the below statistics the original bridge and its replacement are each counted.

Builder# Built# In Active Use# Extant But Abandoned# Status UnknownRemarks
Butler County5820 (34%)1 (2%)4 (7%)
Eli Warren10 (0%)0 (0%)0 (0%)
Walter Sharp173 (18%)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, due to the original’s inadequate waterway. One of the bridges we counted as Walter Sharp’s was built in conjunction with a business partner of his (“Sharp & Jones”). The wing walls (approaches?) for this bridge were built by O. Markley.
C. C. Jamison2212 (55%)1 (5%)1 (5%)
Abe Matheney95 (56%)0 (0%)0 (0%)
Owen Jones10 (0%)0 (0%)1 (100%)
Joseph Sharp30 (0%)0 (0%)0 (0%)
O. Markley11 (100%)0 (0%)0 (0%)
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. However (and this is why one needs to be careful with the above numbers) while Abe Matheney has the highest percentage of stone bridges that remain in use in Butler County, 0% of the four bridges he built for Cowley County remain; one of these bridge was replaced in 1999 after apparently being determined too narrow for the vehicles crossing it, another one was where US 77 now is, while the other two were most certainly too small for the stream they spanned.