The Esch’s Spur Bridge (called Kirk Bridge on the plaque) is a well-known triple-arch bridge outside Dexter, Cowley, Kansas, that is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Built in 1913 by Walter Sharp, this bridge has spanned Grouse Creek for over a century. Arguably the most renowned of the Cowley bridges, it is certainly a must-see for any stone arch bridge enthusiast. It is a very long bridge, and, though perhaps a little difficult to capture in a photograph, the sheer … [Read more...] about The Esch’s Spur Bridge
When building bridges, it is always necessary to take into account the hydraulic effects of the structure. Piers in a river, for instance, always cause interesting water-related phenomena. Not only is a pier vulnerable to being undermined by the action of water, a pier can obstruct trees and other floating objects in the river until an effective dam is created, unless precautions are taken. In extreme cases, like the old London Bridge, too many too-wide piers can pose a major obstruction of … [Read more...] about The Hydraulic Properties of Stone Arch Bridges
Many of the old stone arch bridges around the world have names which, after a fashion, tell a tale of the history of the structure and, sometimes, the area around it. Others have obvious names that are not particularly informative, beyond, perhaps, what body of water the bridge is spanning. In Kansas, many of the stone bridges are named after various landowners who lived in the vicinity of the structure and whose land the bridge was on. Bridges in Ireland Frequently, bridges have more than one … [Read more...] about What’s in a Name?
Cowley County, Kansas, is reputed to be the stone arch bridge capital of Kansas and has many historic stone arch bridges. It is, however, unclear what the first stone arch bridge in Cowley County was. The reason for this is very simple — not all stone arch bridges were built by the county, and for some of them the documentation is very poor. Some were built by railroads, and others seem to have sprung up from nowhere. Stalter Bridge The Stalter Bridge, Cowley, Kansas, is an … [Read more...] about Four Early Cowley Bridges
This list of lesser-known bridges in Kansas is composed of bridges that are not well documented for various reasons. Some of them are off-road while others, even though they are actually on the roadway, have largely escaped the public eye — an easy occurrence if they are not on the national bridge inventory or are largely obscured. We will update this list as we find more. 1. Walz Ford Bridge, Butler County, KS Location: On Bluestem Road, head 1 mile south from the paved SE … [Read more...] about 4 Lesser-Known Stone Bridges of Kansas
Cowley County is known as the stone arch bridge capital of Kansas. While something of a latecomer to the stone arch bridge building trend of this part of the state, Cowley quickly rose to become famous for its stone arch bridges. Shortly after the county built a stone arch bridge over Timber Creek, they undertook the building of what was heralded as the largest stone arch bridge in the state — the Dunkard Mill Bridge. The Dunkard Mill Bridge is located outside Arkansas City and bridges the … [Read more...] about Record Bridges of Cowley Kansas
The North Branch Otter Creek Bridge in Greenwood County, Kansas, is a well-known, triple-arch stone bridge listed on the National Register of Historical Places. It was built by pioneer bridge builder Walter Sharp, as shown by the plaque. Walter Sharp is renowned for being the foremost builder of the famous Cowley County stone arch bridges. When Greenwood County decided to bypass this old stone bridge, demolishing it was considered. After the resulting protests, the bridge was preserved … [Read more...] about Otter Creek Bridge
Kansas has a large number of stone arch bridges and culverts — reasonable estimates put the number at over 200 such structures across the state. The choice was natural enough; stone is plentiful and readily available in Kansas, and, particularly in western Kansas, stone was just about the only building material available. So much so, that “post rock” (i.e., stone fence posts) became quite popular in some areas. It was a natural choice, then, to use the stone for bridges. Even in more timbered … [Read more...] about Stone Arch Bridges of Kansas