The Rise and Fall of the White River Bridge



Augusta continued to boom into the early twentieth century, when a $614,734.00 bridge was completed in 1930 that allowed cars to cross the White River and get to highway 64. The new bridge closed the last gap in highway 64 without having to cross by ferry.


Residents of Augusta were so excited with the completion of their new bridge that the occasion called for a celebratory parade and an invitation to dignitaries to attend. The original bridge was on the National Register of Historical Places, but in 2001 it was torn down to be replaced by a shiny new four-lane bridge that cost a whopping $17.6 million dollars to construct.[i]


It is too bad there wasn't a way to convert the historic bridge into a walking bridge and build the new modern bridge adjacent. We can't keep blowing up our history!


[i] (The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture n.d.)


LOOKING SOUTHEAST, GENERAL VIEW OF DOUBLE ARCH CANTILEVER BRIDGE - Augusta Bridge, Spanning White River at Highway 64, Augusta, Woodruff County, AR

GENERAL VIEW OF BRIDGE SHOWING APPROACH SPANS AT WEST END OF BRIDGE, LOOKING SOUTH - Augusta Bridge, Spanning White River at Highway 64, Augusta, Woodruff County, AR

GENERAL VIEW OF BRIDGE, LOOKING NORTH - Augusta Bridge, Spanning White River at Highway 64, Augusta, Woodruff County, AR

VIEW OF WESTERNMOST ARCH TRUSS SPAN FROM RIVER BANK, LOOKING SOUTHWEST - Augusta Bridge, Spanning White River at Highway 64, Augusta, Woodruff County, AR

VIEW OF BRIDGE FROM UNDERNEATH SHOWING EASTERNMOST PIER AND APPROACH SUPPORT, LOOKING NORTHWEST - Augusta Bridge, Spanning White River at Highway 64, Augusta, Woodruff County, AR

DETAIL VIEW OF BRIDGE DATEPLATE WHICH READS '1930, WHITE RIVER BRIDGE, ARKANSAS HIGHWAY COMMISSION, DWIGHT BLACKWOOD, CHAIRMAN, JUSTIN MATTHEWS, J. LAN WILLIAMS, J.S. PARKS, SAM J. WILSON, COMMISSIONERS, C.S. CHRISTIAN, STATE HIGHWAY ENGINEER, IRA HEDRICK, INC., CONSULTING ENGINEERS, PARHAM CONT. CO., CONTRACTOR' - Augusta Bridge, Spanning White River at Highway 64, Augusta, Woodruff County, AR


The significance stated in order to get the bridge on the National Registry was:

Significance: Built in 1929-1930, the Augusta bridge provided an important link in a major highway. The double-cantilevered span shares its design and designer with similar bridges at Newport and Clarendon, Arkansas. Spanning 400 feet with a price greater than half a million dollars when it was finished, the bridge's construction was begun only after years of legal delays were resolved.

The building of the new bridge was a hefty contract and quite the feat. Jensen Construction won the bid with the Arkansas Highway Transportation Department.

On their website, they described the project with a contract value of a whopping $17,629,515 and provided photos of the construction:

This project includes the construction of a new 3155′ long bridge over the White River. The bridge has 2 large river piers and 26 approach piers all supported on piling. The two river piers were constructed in 40′ wide, 80′ long and 70′ deep cofferdams. The superstructure is 63′ wide and is supported by prestressed beams on the approaches and 10′ deep steel girders across the channel.



Black and white images courtesy of the Library of Congress. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA


Bridge demolition video courtesy of the Arkansas Highway Transportation Department.



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