From 1874 to 2016 the Springfield-Des Arc bridge spanned North Cadron Creek but now — due to efforts by the Faulkner County Historical Society — this bowstring iron truss bridge (the oldest bridge in Arkansas and one of the oldest of its type in the United States) has been restored and reconstructed at Conway’s Beaverfork Park. (More info here…)
Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, the bridge fell into disrepair after it was replaced by a modern concrete bridge in 1991. Vandals tagged it with graffiti and damaged it with fire. PHOTOS taken of the bridge in October, 2007 clearly show its rag-tag condition.
In 2012, Workin’ Bridges, a non-profit organization that works to restore historic iron bridges, evaluated the structure and proposed its restoration. The Faulkner County Historical Society lobbied local authorities on behalf of the restoration, which resulted in the City of Conway agreeing to take ownership of the bridge and move it to Beaverfork Lake, where it now spans a cove and connects two portions of the park.
In November 2016, the process of restoration and repair began when the bridge was lifted from its abutments (VIDEO here). The project was dedicated in September, 2017.
The PBS’s nationally-distributed television show Ultimate Restorations filmed the lift of the bridge and plans an episode about this successful preservation project.
About the Project:
Bridge Update: April, 2017 (April 16, 2017)
Society Receives Grants for Bridge Signage (January 9, 2017)
Society Plans Springfield-Des Arc Bridge Signage (December 12, 2016)
Conway Begins Moving/Restoring Springfield-Des Arc Bridge [VIDEO] (November 15, 2016)
Conway Resolves Springfield-Des Arc Bridge Funding Problems (October 14, 2016)
Conway Runs Into Snags Moving Springfield-Des Arc Bridge (September 9, 2016)
Conway OKs Springfield-Des Arc Bridge Costs (August 15, 2016)
The Springfield-Des Arc Bridge: “Looking Back” (June 10, 2016)
Bridge to the Past: Historical Society Seeks to Preserve 1870s Structure (August 18, 2015)