One characteristic of masonry structures in general, and stone arch bridges specifically, is the fact that the person(s) who built the bridge inevitably left behind a hallmark. Not just any and all plaques, but the workmanship itself is often telltale. Each builder has his own method, and, in the case of bridge contractors, the contracting company itself had its own method. Walter Sharp Walter Sharp, who built many bridges in Kansas, generally used large, chunky blocks of stone, not … [Read more...] about Stone Arch Bridges: Who Built It?
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
Arguably the most difficult part of building a stone arch bridge is “turning the arch.” This phrase simply refers to keeping the correct angle on each individual stone so that the arch goes in a circle — not as easy, perhaps, as one might think. The Gothic Arch To begin with, some arch shapes are easier to turn than others. The Gothic arches in medieval bridges are surprisingly forgiving. As they terminate in a point at the top, this point takes much of the necessary angle to be made, allowing … [Read more...] about Stone Arch Bridges: Methods of “Turning the Arch”
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 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