Limestone County Historical Commission
Limestone County Historical Commission

Limestone County's Historic Iron Truss Bridges

Metal truss bridges were greatly utilized in Texas from the 1880s through the 1930s.  Until the 1910s and 1920s, almost all of them were manufactured outside of Texas by companies like the King Bridge Company of Ohio and the American Bridge Company.  These companies employed many salesmen to sell their standardized bridge designs to county and city governments.  All parts were made out of state and then shipped in pieces to the bridge site, where they were assembled by a local crew.  Texas did not have its own bridge manufacturer until the Austin Brothers Bridge Company was established in 1910.  

 

Although metal truss bridges were once common across Texas, many have been replaced or bypassed due to age and condition.  Limestone County has lost many of its iron truss bridges over the last few decades and currently only has seven that are still in use for vehicular traffic.  However, Limestone County is ranked as having the second-highest number of iron truss bridges in the state.  Bexar County is first with nine.

 

The following information and photos are courtesy of the Texas Department of Transportation.

1

 

Bridge 091470AA0408004 carries County Road 723/Old Thornton Road over Big Creek in Limestone County. Constructed in 1920, the bridge is a one-span, riveted Warren pony truss with parallel top chord and two sets of verticals. The bridge has two concrete flat slab approach spans. It has a main span length of 50 feet and an overall structure length of 92 feet.

 

The bridge retains integrity of location as it is in its historic location. Other than deteriorated concrete railing on the approach spans, which does not impact the bridge’s character-defining features, there are no apparent alterations. As such the bridge retains integrity of design, materials, workmanship, setting, feeling, and association.

2

Bridge 091470AA0401001 carries County Road 786 over Rocky Creek in Limestone County. Constructed in 1921 using a Texas Highway Department T8 standard plan, it is a one-span, riveted Warren pony truss with parallel chord and two sets of verticals. It has a main span length of 60 feet and, with two concrete flat slab approach spans, it has an overall structure length of 105 feet.

 

The bridge retains integrity of location as it is in its historic location. In 2009, the bridge was rehabilitated and work included: repairing or replacing truss members in kind; replacing missing railing sections in kind; replacing the concrete deck; cleaning and painting the truss; replacing damaged or missing rivets with round-headed bolts; and replacing missing concrete rail in kind on the approach spans. The work was completed in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and results in no integrity loss. As such the bridge retains integrity of design, materials, workmanship, setting, feeling, and association.

3

Bridge 091470AA0786003 carries County Road 786 over Frost Creek in Limestone County. Constructed in 1921, it is a one-span, riveted Warren pony truss with parallel chord and two sets of verticals, and has two concrete flat slab approach spans. The bridge was constructed for the Texas Highway Department and Limestone County on the former State Highway 14 alignment, using a Texas Highway Department T5 standard plan. The main span length is 70 feet, and the overall structure length is 116 feet.

 

The bridge retains integrity of location as it is in its historic location. In 2008, the bridge was rehabilitated and work included: repairing or replacing truss members in kind; replacing missing railing sections in kind; replacing the concrete deck; cleaning and painting the truss; and replacing damaged or missing rivets with round-headed bolts. The work was completed in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and therefore results in no integrity loss. As such the bridge retains integrity of design, materials, workmanship, setting, feeling, and association.

4

Bridge 091470AA0475001 carries County Road 633 over Rocky Creek in Limestone County. Constructed in 1920, it is a one-span, shop-riveted and field-bolted Warren pony truss with parallel top chord and two sets of verticals. It has a main span length of 36 feet and overall structure length of 37 feet.

 

The bridge retains integrity of location as it is in its historic location. Open holes in the truss members indicate the top rail of the original railing has been removed, which is a minor loss of design integrity. Otherwise, the bridge retains integrity of materials, workmanship, setting, feeling, and association.

5

Bridge 091470AA0475004 carries County Road 633 over a branch of Cedar Creek in Limestone County. Constructed in 1920, the bridge is a one-span, shop-riveted and field-bolted Warren pony truss with parallel top chord and two sets of verticals. It has a main span length of 48 feet and an overall structure length of 50 feet.

 

The bridge retains integrity of location as it is in its historic location. Open holes in the truss members indicate the original railing has been removed. Plates are welded to the top chord for reinforcement. The alterations result in the loss of integrity of design and workmanship. Since it is currently closed to traffic, this bridge  is not counted as one of the seven as mentioned above and may be replaced in the future - another loss to the county.

6

Bridge 091470AA0484001 carries County Road 394 over a branch of Baines Creek in Limestone County. Constructed in 1920, it is a one-span, shop-riveted and field-bolted Warren pony truss with parallel top chord and two sets of verticals. It has a main span length of 36 feet and overall structure length of 37 feet.

 

The bridge retains integrity of location as it is in its historic location. There are no visible alterations to the bridge. As such it retains integrity of design, materials, workmanship, setting, feeling, and association.

7

Bridge 091470AA0311001 carries County Road 402 over the Navasota River in Limestone County. The bridge is comprised of a one-span, riveted Warren pony truss with parallel top chord and two sets of verticals. The main span length is 70 feet and, with nine concrete flat slab approach spans, the overall structure length is 251 feet. Current TxDOT bridge inspection files note the construction dates as 1934 based on a Federal Aid Project plaque on the bridge approaches. However, previous inspection files and TxDOT's Historic Bridge Database place the construction date at 1920. The 1920 date seems more accurate based on the appearance and design of the steel truss span and the approach railings.

 

The bridge retains integrity of location as it is in its historic location.  There are no impacts to the bridge’s character-defining features and the bridge retains integrity of design, materials, workmanship, setting, feeling, and association.  This bridge is scheduled to be rehabilitated.

8

Bridge 091470AA0210002 carries County Road 244 over Tehuacana Creek in Limestone County. Constructed in 1920, the bridge is a one-span, riveted Warren pony truss with parallel top chord and two sets of verticals. It has a main span length of 70 feet and a total structure length of 72 feet.

 

According to the Texas Department of Transportation Historic Bridge File, this bridge was moved to the current location in 1928 from the former crossing of State Highway 14 over Tehuacana Creek. As such it has no loss of integrity of location. There are no apparent alterations to the truss itself, and it retains integrity of design, materials, workmanship, setting, feeling, and association.

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