Among the undervalued treasures of both Newton and McDonald Counties are our bridges.

Among the undervalued treasures of both Newton and McDonald Counties are our bridges.
Some are better known than others. The historic iron truss bridge in Powell came into the spotlight several years ago, when a local grassroots effort saved it from the wrecking ball. The nearly 210-foot-long Powell Bridge, now limited to pedestrians only, was completed in 1915 by the East St. Louis Bridge Company and is one of the last surviving bridges built by that firm. It is located on Cowan Ridge Road, off of Route E, and crosses Big Sugar Creek.
Powell's bridge is certainly a gem, and there are many others as well, most of which are still open to traffic. One is located just northwest of Granby on old Highway E. It is a five-span arch bridge built in 1919 by the Concrete & Steel Construction Co. of Joplin, and is pretty in my estimation.
Another multi-span arch bridge built in 1919 by the same company – and one no one born after 1989 has ever been across in a vehicle because it was closed that year – spans Shoal Creek northwest of Redings Mill and just west of Grand Falls. It is named the Fillmore Bridge. McCllelland Boulevard dead-ends there on the east side of the crossing, after Shoal Creek bends sharply northward for a short distance. Canary Drive stops on the west side.
Speaking of Redings Mill, most folks are aware of the open-spandrel arch bridge at that place, just east of the highway. Built in 1930 by M.E. Gillioz of Monett, it now open to foot traffic only. But did you know that that span replaced an earlier bridge, this one a truss bridge, built in 1884? The older bridge was constructed by the Midland Bridge Company of Kansas City. Of course, most existing bridges we see today probably replaced earlier spans. Incidentally, the 1930 bridge would have been the one Clyde Barrow and Gang sped over while fleeing from law enforcement after the Joplin shootout.
Many young people growing up in and around Neosho are familiar with the old truss bridge off of Lime Kiln Road. It is a popular spot for high school senior photos. The bridge itself is very old, built in 1882 by King Bridge Company. However, it started out as a railroad bridge and was originally located somewhere else – where I haven't found out. It was later purchased and moved to the present location as a traffic bridge, though now it is restricted to pedestrians only.
A couple of months ago my dad and uncle told me about a neat bridge they stumbled across on Pecan Drive, southwest of Neosho, and I had to check it out for myself. It is a pony-truss bridge spanning Buffalo Creek and I would have guessed it was built much earlier than it really was – which was in the 1950s.
There are also many interesting bridges in McDonald County. Besides the aforementioned Powell bridge, there is the 305-foot truss bridge over Indian Creek, on Route EE, in Lanagan. It was built in 1928 by the W.A. Ross Construction Company of Kansas City.
Farther upstream is the 311-foot, three-span, open-spandrel arch bridge on Old Highway 76 (Cedar Road) in Anderson. It was built in 1929 by the same Mr. Gillioz who built the Redings Mill bridge the following year.
I crossed the old Canning Factory Road bridge in Anderson for the first and, as it turned out, last time in 2001. This neat old truss bridge was built in 1908 by the Marcus Bridge and Iron Company. It was replaced just months after I first traveled over it and said “wow.” I went off to college that fall and had no idea the old bridge was destroyed.
I think the Honey Creek Bridge in Southwest City is rather neat because of the old fashioned white globes on either end of the 216-foot bridge, built in 1930.
Not far north, right on the Oklahoma line, is a very nondescript, modest bridge on Blecha Road. Driving over, it doesn't look like much. The below side view, however, is different. It is a two-span, concrete arch bridge built in a rather interesting design in 1914. World War I started in the summer of that year. Just think: That bridge is 104 years old and still being used for vehicle traffic. It was built at a time when most of the local folks who used it probably didn't own a car.
All of the above information comes from the website bridgehunter.com, which relies on contributions from volunteers. It is a fascinating website, if you like bridges, and you'll learn a lot about crossings you may have used hundreds or thousands of times.




Wes Franklin writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.