A Bridge with A Past But No Future

This is a story I’ve written for the local paper I freelance for, the Tuttle Times. It is just a little taste of what yesterday’s tornado did to my community. When it took down this bridge, it was only around an F2, by the time it got to Moore, it was an F3 or F4. They say it was so deadly because it slowed to a crawl – only 10 mph. The history on the bridge came from a history book that I wrote for the Newcastle Pacer back in 2008. All of the images were taken by me this morning on a very busy bridge. The debris from the old bridge had the new bridge shut down all evening and night yesterday.

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The Passing of a Historical Landmark

By Darla Welchel

Darla Welchel

Monday marked the end of a piece of history in Tri City.

Built in 1922, The old U.S. Highway 62 bridge, that until 1962 was the only crossing from Oklahoma City to Tuttle and Newcastle, was destroyed during Mondays deadly tornado.

It took one year for the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Co. From Kansas to the build the bridge; they received the contract $300,000. This was the first federally funded highway project in the nation: Federal Aid Project, NO 1, Cleveland and McClain Counties.

The bridge had 10 steel spans, each 225 feet in length. It was 17 feet wide with a vertical clearance of 13’1”. It had wood decking that became a problem after vehicles started using it. Large trucks are credited with uprooting the six inch lag bolts, causing the loose boards to make a deafening and long-distance clatter.

The structure that spanned the south Canadian river just north of Newcastle at Tri City has been used by ONG as a carrier for utility lines since it was decommissioned in April, 1962 when the twin concrete bridges of the H.E. Bailey Turnpike were built. .

Although it has not been opened to motor vehicles for many decades, the bridge served as a landmark to Tri City residents. It spoke of a simpler time, a slower life.

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46 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Livonne
    May 21, 2013 @ 22:00:54

    It’s so heartbreaking. I am watching our news on it now. Love to you all xxx

    Reply

  2. Rene
    May 21, 2013 @ 22:45:33

    so sad to see it all twisted like this. Amazing what mother nature can do.

    Reply

  3. Regina
    May 22, 2013 @ 02:35:00

    Thank you for sharing. Even though we all know there are things that are more important – like people – that bridge is important to me. It’s hard to imagine it being gone.

    Reply

    • Darla Welchel
      May 22, 2013 @ 03:07:51

      That’s what I thought; I have gotten to the point where I can’t watch the news anymore because it saddens my heart. This is sad too, but in a different way. First the opera house now the bridge, we are losing all our landmarks. 😦

      Reply

  4. Jeannie
    May 22, 2013 @ 02:39:02

    I loved this bridge sure gonna miss it

    Reply

  5. apronheadlilly
    May 22, 2013 @ 04:09:21

    Wow! Think of how many storms it weathered over the years till now.

    Reply

  6. Donna Shadoan
    May 22, 2013 @ 09:29:15

    Wow! it had endured a lot of storms over the years, but not this one. Sad!

    Reply

    • Darla Welchel
      May 23, 2013 @ 03:39:35

      Yes, it was very sad. Considering that tornadoes have been taking this path for decades, its amazing that it hasn’t been hit before. Oh yeah, and also many floods! It is a river you know.

      Reply

  7. Paula Davis
    May 22, 2013 @ 15:39:53

    I remember going across this bridge as a little girl going to the zoo with my mom and dad, 3 brothers and 3 sisters, and our aunt and uncle and their five kids. So sad to see what Mother Nature can do. My prayers to all my friends and family in the Tri-City area, Moore and OKC.

    Reply

  8. Justin Wickliffe
    May 22, 2013 @ 17:24:28

    Ms. Welchel, I hope you don’t mind that I shared your pictures and this story on Facebook. I also put pictures that I had taken of this bridge on 28 April 2013, obviously intact. If there is a problem with me sharing your pictures, please let me know. I will gladly share my pictures of the bridge. As a kid, this bridge always creeped me out. And, during my most recent visit to Oklahoma, my sister (who still lives there) asked me if there was anything I wanted to see, and I said, “yes, that creepy bridge.”

    Reply

    • Darla Welchel
      May 23, 2013 @ 03:43:35

      Oh no, I don’t mind at all Justin. Please tag me in your post so I can see your images as well.
      I’m a journalist so it is all about sharing. The story should come out in the Tuttle Times tomorrow. I hope. I never know because I’m just freelance.
      I love your description of the bridge as being creepy. I too was creeped out by it on more than one occasion. We walked on it about 20 years ago when the river flooded. The water was up to the bottom of the bridge now that was creepy. They haven’t let anyone on it in years! So sad to see it gone. I’m sure they will tear it down.

      Reply

    • Darla Welchel
      May 23, 2013 @ 03:45:18

      oh, I’m going to do a post of memories of the bridge, do you mind if I use your story?

      Reply

  9. Dawn
    May 22, 2013 @ 17:53:39

    One of my grandmothers crossed it in a covered wagon and the other drove her daddy’s model T over it as a kid, lets just say he was incapacitated I have always loved that old bridge.

    Reply

    • Darla Welchel
      May 23, 2013 @ 03:44:49

      Wow, I’m going to put together a post of memories. Can you give me your full name and do you mind if I use this?
      I too have always loved it. When I wrote the history book, I learned a bit about it, but want to learn more.

      Reply

  10. Dana Lachenmayr-Gossman
    May 22, 2013 @ 18:04:50

    My dad drove our family over it many times. So sad.

    Reply

  11. Shane
    May 22, 2013 @ 18:35:56

    I am almost 40 years old and have driven by the bridge at least twice a day for over half my life. Even before that, as a small child I thought was an old roller coaster and it made me happy (even though I knew I could never ride on it) because when I saw it I knew we were home now. It is a great loss and I will miss it like an old friend I will never get to see again. RIP my old friend..

    Reply

  12. Connie
    May 22, 2013 @ 19:08:11

    Thanks for finding the history on it..I have my own..when I was about 2-3 yrs old my daddy had to stop in the middle of the bridge turn me upside down and shake out a jawbreaker(that I wasn’t supposed to have) that was lodged in my throat..good times

    Reply

  13. stephbowen14
    May 22, 2013 @ 20:01:15

    Reblogged this on Stilettos and Spurs and commented:
    This history of the Newcastle Bridge with photos after the tornado. Please keep all those affected by tornadoes in Newcastle, Moore, Shawnee, Edmond and Carney in your prayers please!

    Reply

  14. Vincent
    May 22, 2013 @ 20:39:42

    I would like to get some of the wood decking so I could build something out of it… How do I get it??? send me email

    Reply

    • Darla Welchel
      May 23, 2013 @ 03:48:53

      I have no idea. I don’t even know who owns it. I know they won’t let anyone near it because of safety and I almost got a ticket for taking pictures!
      You might by calling the city of Newcastle and then OEC or ONG

      Reply

  15. herbel
    May 22, 2013 @ 20:57:17

    the thing i thought of first when i think of my time there

    Reply

  16. Ashley
    May 23, 2013 @ 04:18:08

    I was raised in Newcastle, I wanted my senior pictures to be on the end of this bridge

    Reply

  17. Island Traveler
    May 23, 2013 @ 11:38:20

    That is a sad event. I wish we could landmarks like this. I think my wife just showed me a video last night of a bridge falling like dominos. Kind of breaks one heart.

    Reply

    • Darla Welchel
      May 23, 2013 @ 15:15:11

      It would cost a lot of money to save it, but it was the first federally funded bridge project in the US, so maybe the federal gov might chip in. πŸ™‚

      Reply

  18. louslabyrinth
    May 23, 2013 @ 15:08:03

    Ohhh no, this is terrible! I hope there is some way it can be fixed xoxox

    Reply

    • Darla Welchel
      May 23, 2013 @ 15:17:07

      There is a group already forming to check into it, its just that there was so much damage done during this storm – $1.5 billion – to the Newcastle and Moore. Newcastle is my home town and I live just a few miles west of their now. The tornado started about a mile from my house.

      Reply

  19. Rhoda
    May 23, 2013 @ 15:15:53

    One of the adventures of traveling to OKC from Lindsay back when was going across that bridge and returning late at night the tales that were told as we slowly crept across it in the car listening to the board creek. (Mom and her sisters loved to scar us kids with tales on that bridge.)

    Reply

    • Darla Welchel
      May 23, 2013 @ 15:24:21

      Rhodo, thanks for sharing your experience.
      I’m going to do a post of memories of the bridge. May I use yours and if so, could you give me your full name?
      thanks, Darla

      Reply

  20. Rusty
    May 23, 2013 @ 15:53:36

    I was born in 77 and for some reason I keep thinking that it was still in service at some point in my childhood. Did they temporarily reopen it at some point?

    Reply

    • Darla Welchel
      May 23, 2013 @ 16:53:15

      I don’t think so. I think it was open for service vehicles and you could walk on it, but I don’t think it was open for traffic. But I could be wrong, I would need to do more research.

      Reply

  21. Jennifer
    May 24, 2013 @ 00:25:52

    My family loves that bridge. I also have a dear friend who’s family has a qurky tradition. Every time they would drive past the whole lot of them would scream “BIG OLD BRIDGE!!!” πŸ™‚ A true treasure that will be missed by many.

    Reply

  22. Kris Denning
    Jun 17, 2013 @ 08:21:54

    I drove by last week only 2 sections left ~ I have walked across that bridge ~ sat there and watched the river flow by ~ ya know you always have to look at it when you drove by it on the hiway ~ sad ~= / I wonder if same company did old bridge by Lake Overholster looks a lot alike and it’s very loud when you drive over it too ~= )

    Reply

    • Darla Welchel
      Jun 17, 2013 @ 11:51:29

      I’m not sure about who did the Lake Overholser bridge; I think they used the same schematics for a lot of those old bridges. I have heard that the City of Newcastle is considering purchasing the last section to possibly turn into a city park – kind of an overlook for the river??? Not sure if it is true, you know how gossip is. πŸ™‚
      Thanks for stoping by!

      Reply

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