You can see it now only by hiking to Cadron Creek off Springfield Road north of Wooster on Faulkner County’s edge with Conway County, but that will soon change: the City of Conway will restore and move the 142-year-old Springfield-Des Arc bridge to Beaverfork Lake, where it will be used for walking/bicycling.
Thanks to efforts by the Faulkner County Historical Society and UCA history professor Ken Barnes (a FCHS member), the City of Conway received and accepted a $300,000 Metroplan 80-20 grant for the project after voting last May to “accept the acquisition of the historic Springfield Bowstring Bridge.” Conway is responsible for $60,000 of the cost of restoration/moving the bridge.
The significantly deteriorated bridge, listed on the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas’ 2015 list of Arkansas’ Most Endangered Places, is the second-oldest example of an iron bowstring truss bridge and the oldest bridge in Arkansas. Built in July, 1874 by the King Bridge Manufactory and Iron Works of Iola, Kansas, it went out of commission in 1991 when a new bypass was constructed.
Jack Bell, Conway’s Chief of Staff, says the bridge is structurally OK but “right now it’s just out there eroding and being vandalized…. The concern is it may not last much longer. It’ll just be a cool addition to that park; it’s a very attractive bridge. Doing the renovation is important because it’s a part of the history of Arkansas and Faulkner County.” Bell said he hopes the project can be completed within the $300,000 budget.