The White River Bridge

(From the files of 1930)



Quick facts about the new bridge

Cost:  $844,689.18

Third of 10 new toll bridges

Length of bridge:  3,064 feet

The bridge proper is a 400-ft steep span over the channel flanked by 121-ft. side spans.

Bridge offers 24-ft. roadway clearance and 47 ft. of vertical clearance for navigation above extreme high water.

Contracts were awarded May 15, 1929 and work began July 24, 1929.


The 100-float, 2 mile long parade

   Your correspondent is at a loss to describe the parade fully, for his hosts insisted that he ride in it, and paraders never know exactly what their parade looks like. However, it is safe the assert that there were 100 floats and decorated cars, not to mention a couple of hundred other automobiles which stretched it out to a length of two miles or more.

   The dedication ceremony took place in the center of the middle span, and it didn't take long.  Little Miss Conner, very poised and efficient spoke a few words about the union of the East and the West, and deftly smashed the decorated bottle on an iron railing. Mr. Blackwood congratulated her; cameras snapped, talkie news reel operators recorded the scene; the onlookers cheered, and the bridge was duly christened.

   The parade continued to a turning point midway between the bridge and Bald Knob, and returned to the high school in Augusta.


New bridge links shortest route from Pacific to Atlantic

A fine new traffic bridge spanning White River was dedicated formally at Augusta Tuesday, completing a link in a transcontinental route shorter by 420 miles than any other in the country.

It may surprise you to learn that the shortest route from ocean to ocean now leads through Augusta and other towns on the recently designated extension of U.S. Highway No. 64. It surprised a good many visitors who joined Woodruff County citizens in Augusta, Tuesday in a joyous celebration of a memorable event. Yet, it undoubtedly is true, as a check of national highway maps will show you.

Hence, the people of Augusta and their neighbors of Woodruff county, had a three-fold reason for rejoicing Tuesday:  They have a bridge which for beauty and traffic efficiency is equal to any in the state; they have a finished and excellent highway connecting them with Memphis, Little Rock, Fort Smith, and other nearby cities, and , finally, they are on a transcontinental route which is likely to prove popular in the future.  


Bridge to open soon

Woodruff County makes preparations for celebration

Augusta and all of Woodruff County are making preparations to celebrate the opening of the beautiful new million-dollar bridge, which spans White River at Augusta, November 18th.  The celebration will be in charge of Mayor G. W. Martin of Augusta.  Committees in the towns in the county are at work and it is planned to make this one of the most spectacular and elaborate celebrations ever held in this section of the state. 

Work on this bridge was begun in June, 1929.  The Missouri Valley Iron and Construction Company built all of the steel spans over the main channel, and the Parham Construction Company did the concrete work on the approaches and the floor of the bridge.  The bridge will be brilliantly lighted by the Arkansas Power and Light Company.  Ira G. Heddrick of Hot Springs, state highway engineer designed the structure.

The main bridge is 400 feet long in three spans.  It stands 42 feet above the high water mark of 1927.  The total length of the bridge and approaches is 2,860 feet.  The approaches and the bridge cost approximately $630,000.  There are two miles of fills on the east side of the river and nine miles on the west side on the direct line between Augusta and Bald Knob.

The new bridge links highway No. 16 with U.S. highway No.64.  This will mean a direct route form Memphis to Fort Smith.  The bridge is a state owned toll bridge and will be a free bridge after it is paid for.  The bridge means completion of the last gap in highway No. 64 that runs from Tennessee to New Mexico.  All that remains to be done on the bridge is the placing of the guard rails and electric lights.  The work of graveling the new road is progressing rapidly.

The Goose Pond bridge is now completed, and the last few weeks have brought more progress than any other interval during the entire period of construction.

Senator Caraway will be present as one of the honor guests.  Other speakers, including the governor, will be invited.  The bridge is to be christened with a bottle of water taken from the Mississippi and White River and other rivers on Oklahoma and New Mexico.  Little Mildred Conner, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Conner of Augusta will perform the rites.

The following committees have been appointed:  Master of ceremonies, J. F. Summers; arrangements, G. W. Martin, W. F. Shoup, Davis Fitzhugh; finance, J. C. McDonald, C. S. Airheart, O. U. McCord; entertainment, W. N. Gregory; sports, boats, flying, etc., Jefferson Stacy; dance, Stewart Fitzhugh; boats, freak floats, Jont Haralson; refreshments, T. E. Stanley; subcommittees; Reception, Mrs. R. K. Fitzhugh; pageant, Mrs. M. H. Garland; floats, Mrs. W. N. Gregory; music, Mrs. W. B. Conner; decoration, Mrs. T. E. Stanley; tables, stands, and concessions, W. E. Conner, H. Snapp, P. Martin; arrangements for parade, G. Beard, G. W. Daniels, M. E. Siegal, fireworks, H. P. Dale and G. W. Daniels - Arkansas Democrat.



The McCrory Music Club will lead the McCrory section in the big parade for the bridge celebration at Augusta next Tuesday morning at ten o'clock.

The section will also include a beautiful float representing McCrory, "The Heart of Woodruff County."  Six of our most beautiful girls will ride upon this float.  A float for our band, two commercial cars of the McCrory Bakery, the home of "Aunt Betty's" famous bread, cakes and cookies, and Riggs Brothers', local Ford dealers and the Best Chevrolet Company's cars will form a part of the McCrory section.

This will be the greatest celebration ever stages in Woodruff County and McCrory should be well and ably represented.



Everybody Makes Merry

Everybody turned out to make merry and even whoopee.  The celebration began at 10 Tuesday morning, and continued far, far into the night.  From all over the country, and from surprisingly distant points in other states, came men, women, and children, eager to celebrate and to pay tribute to the Arkansas Highway Department which made the jubilee possible.

The little city of Augusta was a gay place.  They don't do things by halves over there.  When they decide to be festive, they jolly well are festive, and no talk of hard times, now news of bank failures can stop them.

The streets were decorated colorfully with flags and bunting.  The shops closed at 9 p.m. for the day.  Those that had 'em put on their Sunday smiles, which served just as well and were more comfortable.  And hospitality!  Strangers ceased to be strangers five minutes after their arrival.  They were given the glad hand and the glad-you-came smile.

There were scores of volunteers eager to take you out and display the pride of Woodruff County, the new White River Bridge.              Arkansas Gazette

5000 storm into Augusta

As 5,000 gathered at Augusta Tuesday, the new $613,000 state tool bridge was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies.  Dignitaries from several states were in hand for the celebration.

The new structure across White River welds a transcontinental route and promises to mean much to Memphis and Eastern Arkansas.

Dwight Blackwood, Arkansas highway commissioner, stood proudly with Miss Mildred Conner, 11, just after she had christened the bridge with water carried to Augusta from several points in the country, including Memphis.





Queen Helen Crowned

The program started at 10 a.m. when the queen of the festival was coronated at the high school by Dwight H. Blackwood, chairman of the state Highway Commission.  The queen is Miss Helen Jackson Berry, member of the senior class of the Laura Connor High School and as pretty a lass you ever saw.

The sky was cloudless and the temperature mild.  In fact, the sun waxed exceedingly warm as the orations went on, but the royal troupe sat serenely and regally through it all.

Mr. Blackwood said he was a novice at queen-crowning; nevertheless he rose nobly to the occasion, and placed the glittering coronet on Her Majesty's brow with fitting words and becoming appreciation of the honor.



Buffalo Bill partner, governor, other notables attend bridge opening

The next [part of] the program was a luncheon in the basement of the high school building for the visitor.  It was served by eight apt pupils in the home economics department, and what a repast they served - Chicken and - aw, no use tantalizing you.

The excellent food put Senator T. H. Caraway, a guest of honor, in a fine humor.  He jested with the queen, by whom he was seated, until Her Majesty was so convulsed with laughter that she couldn't eat, poor girl.

There was no speech-making at the sinner.  The oratory followed immediately afterward in the auditorium of the high school.  The principal speaker was Senator Caraway, who amused the audience with his usual dry drolleries and stirred them to serious thought with his pertinent comment on the prestige of Arkansas achieved through outstanding individuals, and the progress of the state in the world of highway transportation.  Senator Caraway never is dull, and Tuesday is was moved to exert himself.

Another speaker was Dr. Charles Hillman Brough, former governor of Arkansas who paid tribute in his customary eloquent fashion to those responsible for the existence of the bridge.  Among those he mentioned was one who should, by all means, be mentioned here:  Ira G. Hedrick, designer of the bridge, a graduate of the University of Arkansas, a resident of Hot Springs, and one of the outstanding bridge engineers of the United States.  Dr. Brough also took occasion to touch on the present period of 'uneasiness' of Arkansas citizens, to preach on the subject of soundness of conditions, and to urge all patriots to sit steady and not to rock the boat.

Other speakers on the afternoon program were John S. Parks of Fort Smith, member of the Highway Commission; Maj. Gordon W. Lillie, president of the Highway No. 64 Association, otherwise known as Pawnee Bill, famous Wild West partner of Buffalo Bill, who drove over from his ranch in Oklahoma for the celebration, and Dr. W. H. Abington of Beebe.

The afternoon was featured by a football game between the high school teams of Augusta and Beebe, Tuesday night the merry making continues with a street dance at 7:30 p.m. and the queen's ball, which was scheduled to last until 2 a.m.


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