Mystery Bridge Nr. 171: The Lone Star Church Bridge in Wagoner County, Oklahoma

All photos courtesy of Jeremy Lance

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This bridge was brought to my attention by fellow bridgehunter, Jeremy Lance, as wel were talking about the demise of the Jefferson Highway Bridge in Okay. As you saw in an early article, that multiple-span bridge has been reduced to one standing and it is most likely the wreckage and the standing span will both come down in the near future due to liability issues.

This mystery bridge is located in the same county as the one at Okay, and like its relict, this span used to span the Verdigris River but has since been sitting abandoned with much of the overgrowth covering the entire structure. The bridge has been bypassed and the road running past now has a culvert that crosses what is left of the river, as it has been rechanneled and what is left of the original river is nothing more than a small creek.

Unlike the bridge in Okay, this bridge relict features the main span- a Parker through truss, with pinned connections and Howe lattice portal bracings supported by curved heel bracings. On both sides of the main span are Pratt pony truss spans. All in all, the bridge has a total length of between 250 and 300 feet; the main span is about 150 -170 feet. There is no information on the bridge except to say that the bridge is at least 125 years old and was built during the time where roadways were needed and counties were racing to build as many bridges like this one as possible, using local contractors and/or bridge agents of large bridge companies to transport the steel to their respective locations, while workers assemble the bridge. So two questions come about with this structure:

  1. Who built the bridge and how was it constructed?
  2. When was it built?

The bridge is located one mile south of Lone Star Church and half a mile west of S. 220th Road on a township road, yet according to Mr. Lance, the road dead ends after passing the bridge and entering the corn field, hence the access is only available on the east end. The entire decking and lower chords of the bridge are missing and therefore, restoration efforts would be only possible if the bridge is encased into a modern structure made of concrete, thus only functioning as a decorative element. Yet before any attempts are made to restore the bridge, the question is whether to restore it on site or relocate it to a site where it would garner more visitors than sitting in a remote location. Once that is done, the question is how to restore it and make it attractive again.

With Oklahoma losing its pre-1950 bridges right and left in the past, attempts are being made to keep what is left and restore them for either local use or recreational purposes. The potential for this bridge is there. The question is whether it is worth the effort or should it be left to nature. With the truss bridge in Okay gone, the answer will lie with the county and how it values its historic places in comparison with the resources it has available vs it can obtain to save this bridge. And that one we do not know at present.

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A gallery of photos of this bridge can be seen by clicking here. All the photos are courtesy of Jeremy Lance, whom I thank for allowing me to use them. Feel free to comment on the bridge’s history and what it should be done with it.

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