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Gone, but not forgotten: First bridge to cross the Little Buffalo River


In early March, 1912, Judge W W Moore stepped out of his farmhouse located in the bottoms of the Little Buffalo River near Jasper. He was out clearing up his fence line when he noticed a farm woman walking down the trail, a basket of eggs on her arm. She hesitated when she got to the Little Buffalo, for the water was cold and swift. She walked out on the gravel bank, took off her shoes and socks and waded the river and went to town to trade her eggs for goods at James Brasel's general store. Judge Moore was still tending his fences when she returned, her basked loaded with groceries, and waded back. As she walked home along a mountain trail, the judge thought to himself "Doggone if it's right for a woman to walk four miles and wade the river twice to sell four bits' worth of eggs. We need a bridge for a woman like that to walk across, and by golly we'll get one."
He set about figuring out how to build a bridge and what it would cost. He presented the idea to the merchant, James Brasel, and the two started raising the funds. Everyone in Jasper and the surrounding areas put in their "bit" and soon the $300 needed for construction was raised.

The pedestrian bridge was located about a quarter mile upstream from the modern bridge on Route 7 and goes to Jasper. It was the first bridge to cross the Little Buffalo. It was a swinging bridge, the first of its type in the region. It had two heavy wooden piers on either bank of the Little Buffalo. Two heavy wire cables ran from each bank and were tied to the piers. Pieces of wagon tire were looped over the cables at intervals and dropped down below floor level to support the crossties on which the floor joists were built. A wooden plank floor was built over the joists. It was said that a couple walking across the bridge in step could give it a gentle swing, but if they were out of step the swing would get bumpy. (Arkansas Gazette 17 Jan 1943)

Barbara LeRoy is the author of “Which Side Were They On?,” a new 302 page book listing biographical sketches of the Newton Countians who were involved in the Civil War, available for sale either in the Bradley House Museum or by purchasing online at www.newtoncountyar.com. The book sells for $33.