Pawhuska’s Big Stone Bridge: Part 2

Pawhuska Stone Bridge

Building the Bridge

That the Lynne Avenue Bridge over Bird Creek in Pawhuska was an important one there could be little doubt.

Pawhuska Stone Bridge
The Lynne Avenue Bridge. Note the massive buttresses in the foreground.

After the contract for the bridge was awarded The Osage Journal remarked:

J. W. Barlow & Company was Tuesday awarded the contract to build a stone arch bridge over Bird Creek on Lynne avenue, near the south-east corner of this city…. The bridge is one of the worst needed in the county and will accommodate the traveling public to a greater extent than a bridge placed at any other point in the county. The county board should be commended for its determination to build bridges just as rapidly as the funds will allow them and to build those needed worst first.

“The bridge will be similar to the one on Clear Creek just west of the city.”

“Bridge Contract Let,” The Osage Journal, October 5, 1911.

Only about a month after he won the bridge contract, J. W. Barlow was laid up with a broken leg, caused by an accident at a quarry at Hominy where, as previously mentioned, he was building a stone bridge. Notwithstanding, the Lynne Avenue Bridge progressed steadily, until, in June of 1912, The Osage Journal could say:

“Bird Creek bridge at the southeast corner of town is nearing completion. The arches are all turned and the wing and side walls nearly up. Workmen are busy jointing up and putting on the finishing touches. The bridge will soon be ready for filling in and for travel.”

“Bridge Nearly Complete,” The Osage Journal, June 20, 1912.

And at last, on July 11, 1912, The Osage Journal proclaimed:

“Messrs Barlow and Mackey have completed the bridge over Bird Creek at the south east corner of town. The bridge is a [huge] stone structure consisting of three arches, abutments and wing walls. The commissioners have secured a granite plate which will be placed in one of the walls. The granite and rock are all Oklahoma products and all labor employed was home labor. The bridge [sits] upon a solid rock [foundation] and will be standing when the yet unborn child becomes gray headed.”

“Bird Creek Bridge Complete,” The Osage Journal, July 11, 1912.

And so, once the fill was placed, the bridge would be ready for use.

The Unfinished Bridge

Though the stonework of the Lynne Avenue Bridge was completed in early July of 1912, it was not until early December that it was ready for traffic. This delay, not surprisingly, prompted some less-than-flattering comments about the bridge, as well as some explanations as to why the bridge wasn’t being finished. From The Pawhuska Capital:

“Have you [noticed] that stone arch bridge erected at the southeast corner of the city over Bird creek, on Lynne Avenue. It stands there in all its glory of extravagance and incompetency. It is said that the approaches and bridge would be filled with earth and rock so that it could fulfill its intended function, except that it is feared that the walls are too frail to withstand the pressure. Let’s see. What did it cost? About $16,000, wasn’t it?”

“A Useless Expense,” The Pawhuska Capital, October 24, 1912.

The Osage Journal around this time offered an explanation about the state of the bridge and the reason it was not being completed right away. In their own words:

“Some comment has been made, and some are wondering why the delay in filling in the Bird creek bridge at the south east corner of town. The Journal after inquiry has found the situation as follows:

“At the time the contract for building the bridge was awarded to Barlow & Mackey, it was the understanding that upon the completion of the stone work, that the ‘filling in’ was to be done by Strikeax township.

“When the stone work was completed Strikeax township as per their agreement advertised for bidders to do the work and practically awarded the same to Mr. Thomas of this city. About this time the township officers were approached by the City of Pawhuska to allow them to pay part of the expenses of moving the dirt from Grand View hill to fill the bridge, the same was considered and practically agreed on[, the] same causing considerable delay[.] When at this stage of the game, the Osage Council agreed to contribute $1000[] to assist in the matter but in order to do so it was necessary to have the approval of the Indian Department which again has been the cause of delay. At the last meeting of the County Commissioners they were apprised of the fact that the township would be unable to carry out their part of the contract in ‘filling’ the bridge on account of the condition of the funds to the credit of the township, so the County Commissioners invited U.S. Indian Agt. Carroll and [the] City Commissioners to meet them and devise some means to expedite the work. The City Commissioners announced their willingness to assist in the work, and Agt. Carroll informed the County Commissioners that he had the matter before the Department and was expecting a reply daily, consequently the County Commissioners deferred action in the matter until these details could be arranged for the reason that by so doing they could possibly save the County several hundred dollars.

“The delay in the same has in no way discommoded a single person in Osage county for the reason that at no time within the past three months has there been enough water at the ford near the bridge to swim a duck.”

“About Bird Creek Bridge,” The Osage Journal, October 31, 1912.

Click here to see part 1 of this series.

Click here to see part 3 of this series.