After extensive research, we are now releasing for the public An Illustrated History of Esch’s Spur Bridge — the large triple-arch stone bridge near Dexter in Cowley County, Kansas. This bridge is also known as Kirk or Pudden Bridge.
We have taken the time to research and write out a detailed and illustrated history of Pudden Bridge, available in the following downloadable document, in which we have given the history of the bridge up to very recent time, largely taken from newspaper articles, which sources we have referenced. This information is, surprisingly, not very well known. This document will provide an interesting read that will will give readers a very clear idea of what went on during the construction of Pudden Bridge, and the challenges that were occurred during construction.
As we have mentioned in a previous post, the triple-arch Pudden Bridge near Dexter in Cowley County, Kansas, also known as Esch’s Spur Bridge as well as Kirk Bridge, is in eminent danger of being lost due to damage sustained to the middle arch of the bridge. Arguably the most well-known of Cowley’s famous stone arch bridges and the only remaining triple-arch bridge in county, this is also the largest stone arch bridge still standing in Cowley.
To the best of our knowledge, the bridge is currently being left as-is, with no immediate plans for repair or demolition. Whether or not keeping this old bridge is worth it is ultimately the decision of the people of Cowley County. After all, besides being the ones who will be primarily using this bridge, they are also the ones who will have to fund any repairs to the structure (although we understand that aid is available for restoring structures on the National Register of Historic Places, such as Pudden Bridge, both at a federal and state level). Technically, the damage that the bridge has sustained is quite likely repairable, though such repairs are more difficult and specialized, and, therefore, rather expensive. Should the people of Cowley be interested in repairing the old bridge rather than replacing it, this history will likely be a help to their cause. But even if it should be deemed impractical to repair the bridge, this history will nevertheless give a glimpse into the past and tell what went on behind the building of this daring structure, and in a more general sense, what went on behind the building of all of the famous stone arch bridges of Cowley County, Kansas.
Additional resource: Index of the Stone Arch Bridges of Cowley County, Kansas