Waco Suspension Bridge
Waco Suspension Bridge in Waco Texas is now closed temporarily for renovation which is expected to last almost 2 years. When the bridge was completed in 1870, it was the longest single span suspension bridge west of the Mississippi river. The bridge spans 470 feet over the Brazos river and was a part of the Chisholm Trail which ran from Texas to Kansas in the late 19th century.
The historic bridge was used for cattle drives and stagecoach traffic in the earlier years. In the early 20th century it was modified and vehicles were allowed on the bridge until 1971.
Waco Suspension Bridge History
Waco Bridge Company was formed in 1866 and incorporated by the legislature. The company was granted the rights to any bridge built across the Brazos river within 5 miles of Waco Texas for 25 years.
Construction began with the evacuation of the Brazos riverbed. The total cost to build the bridge was at the time estimated to be $40 000. The equivalent of $730 000 in 2021. By completion over $130 000 had been spent to construct the bridge. Slightly over 2 million dollars in 2021.
On the 7th of January 1870 Philanthropist Kate Ross Padgitt led a parade celebrating the opening of the Waco Suspension Bridge. The bridge began collecting tolls of approximately $25 000 annually.
Waco Bridge Company sold the bridge to the city of Waco for only $1. As a result, the bridge became the bridge became toll free on the 1st of September.
To allow increased traffic, major modifications were made in 1914. These included a new cable system, steel reinforced road and new stronger towers.
The Waco Suspension Bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. One year later the bridge was reserved for pedestrians and special events.
In October 2020 the bridge was closed for a $12.4 million preservation project. The bridge will get new steel cables and decking. It will also receive new anchors and paint among many other improvements. The project is expected to last 18 to 24 months.
Cattle Drive Sculptures
Sculptures celebrating the Chisholm Trail cattle drives are located at the southern entrance of the Waco Suspension Bridge. The sculptures were designed by artist Robert Summer. They include 25 longhorn cattle, a cowboy, a Mexican Vaquero and a black drover.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Park
Martin Luther King, Jr. Park is located on the northern end of the bridge and features some paintings on pillars of a bridge that was once located next to the Waco Suspension Bridge.
Waco Suspension Bridge is located west off Baylor university’s McLane Stadium. Exits 335 B and C on Interstate 35. Hilton Waco is the closest hotel with the best views of the bridge.
101 N University Parks Dr, Waco, TX 76701