The Building of the Stone Arch Bridges of Butler County, Kansas — Part 3

The Cowley County commissioners were pleased with Butler and Greenwood’s stone arch bridges. They promptly awarded Walter Sharp the contract for a stone bridge over Timber Creek in late 1901. Walter Sharp began to spend more time in Cowley. Cowley was a new territory for Butler’s stone masons. Abe Matheney found work in Cowley beginningContinue reading “The Building of the Stone Arch Bridges of Butler County, Kansas — Part 3”

The Building of the Stone Arch Bridges of Butler County, Kansas — Part 2

The Sharp brothers became important in Butler County stone arch bridge building. With the construction of the double-arch Bird Creek Bridge that they built, the Sharp brothers became a fixture in Butler bridge building. What they brought to the table was economy — their bridges were comparable to steel bridges in cost, yet usually lastedContinue reading “The Building of the Stone Arch Bridges of Butler County, Kansas — Part 2”

The Building of the Stone Arch Bridges of Butler County, Kansas — Part 1

Kansas has over 200 stone arch bridges. Of all of the Kansas counties, Cowley is arguably the most famous for its stone arch structures. However, Cowley’s neighbor, Butler County, has over twenty stone arch bridges, which are a relic of Butler’s aggressive stone bridge building days. In fact, the success of these early Butler stoneContinue reading “The Building of the Stone Arch Bridges of Butler County, Kansas — Part 1”

Drystack (Mortarless) Arch Tips

While building any stone arch bridge is quite rewarding, nothing quite compares to a drystack (mortarless) structure. The basic principles between mortared and mortarless work are the same. The primary difference is that more care must be taken when laying the stones for a mortarless structure. This is especially true for the arch. Challenges ofContinue reading “Drystack (Mortarless) Arch Tips”

Wingwalls: Importance and Repair

Many stone arch bridges were designed with wingwalls. The wingwalls are essentially retaining walls that keep the soil along the stream from slumping into the stream. Obviously, having the soil slump into the stream is undesirable, as it can make a wreck of the road. However, for some stone bridges, the stone walls that formContinue reading “Wingwalls: Importance and Repair”

Cassoday’s Double-Arch Walnut River Bridge

What is almost certainly the largest stone arch bridge in Butler County, Kansas, happens to be rather easy to miss. It is very easy to drive over this magnificent structure and not even know that it is there. The double-arch bridge that spans the Walnut River on NE 110th street near Cassoday hides under aContinue reading “Cassoday’s Double-Arch Walnut River Bridge”

The WPA Stone Arch Bridges

In the 1930s, the WPA was responsible for building numerous structures as works projects during the Great Depression. This gave employment to people out of work, who in turn built a wide array of structures including band shells, picnic areas…and stone arch bridges. While the WPA did not always build their bridges with stone, theyContinue reading “The WPA Stone Arch Bridges”

Basket-Handle Arches: Strengths and Weaknesses

In our last post, we described the class of so-called “basket-handle” arches: The basket-handle arch basically forms a compromise between a Roman arch and a segmental arch. The basic form is an ellipse, but most bridges using a basket-handle arch use a so-called “three-centered” arch — it is drawn using three separate radii. The PrimaryContinue reading “Basket-Handle Arches: Strengths and Weaknesses”

Basket-handle Arches: The Elliptical and the Pseudo-elliptical Arches

Roman arches and segmental arches are the standard arch forms we often see. The Roman arch is simply half a circle, while the segmental arch is a smaller arc of a circle. Though the Roman arch has its weaknesses, one of its huge advantages is the lack of horizontal thrust at the ends of theContinue reading “Basket-handle Arches: The Elliptical and the Pseudo-elliptical Arches”

A Masterpiece of Stonework: The Wolf Creek Bridge

In the northern part of Oklahoma is a masterpiece of stonework: The Wolf Creek Bridge. This stone arch bridge, located in the Kaw Wildlife Management Area five miles east of Newkirk, spans Wolf Creek in a single, massive span. The structure features first-class stone work — each stone has been cut to fit precisely with its neighbors.