Baring Cross Bridge

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Baring Cross Bridge. Detail from postcard.

The Baring Cross Bridge, the first to span the Arkansas River, opened at Little Rock on December 21, 1873. The bridge carried traffic on the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern Railway.

The Baring Cross Bridge was to have been originally constructed under president Thomas Allen of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad Company, who named the proposed structure after the British banking firm of "Baring and Company" and a cross which appeared on Allen's family coat of arms.

Faced with a shortage of cash, principals formed a independent Baring Cross Bridge Company and contracted with the American Bridge Company to make the 978-foot bridge a reality. The original bridge consisted of four Howe Truss spans. A second deck highway was added in 1877, but in 1886 the highway was reduced to the same level as the railway, running parallel to it.

The original bridge washed away in the Great Flood of 1927. The Missouri Pacific Railroad tried to save the bridge by parking coal cars on the structure, but these efforts failed on April 21. A new bridge opened under the same name on February 2, 1929. The Missouri Pacific Railroad added a lift span to the bridge in 1967 to conform with requirements of the new McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.

The Union Pacific Railroad took over ownership of the bridge in 1997.


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