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Old 12-27-2005, 02:38 PM   #1
ColGoodnight
 
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Iron Bridges of Denton County

Beginning in the 1870’s, iron bridges began to be shipped to Texas to replace the earlier small, locally built wooden bridges. Because the iron bridges were far stronger, they could span greater distances and not be swept away in floods. Some still stand and serve traffic.

These little bridges revolutionized life in the country. They allowed families to pack their wagons and travel to town in any weather, selling their excess produce on Saturday afternoon, attending the dance on Saturday night, camping the night on the square, attending church on Sunday morning and returning home that afternoon.

All structures have a service lifetime, however, and in the case of the old iron bridges, modern traffic exacerbates their fitness for use. Designed in an era of buggies and wagons, they are now carrying F350s pulling gooseneck trailers. The TX DOT is forcing the replacement of these old bridges for safety reasons.

Most counties are scrapping their remaining 19th century iron bridges as fast as money can be found for replacements, but in Denton county a group of historians are trying to preserve these artifacts of times gone by. They have a web site

http://dentoncounty.com/dept/main.asp?Dept=112&Link=126

and were featured in Texas Highways in the November ’05 issue. They are trying to hang on to the history of their Pratt truss bridges.

Visiting these bridges would make a pleasant day ride for riders in the Metroplex. Be advised, however, that preservation is no better than a rear-guard action: all of these bridges are scheduled for removal and replacement in the next few years. Woulda, shoulda, coulda: take your pictures and make your memories now, folks.

Where: These bridges are located on county roads in the area of Denton and Sanger, Texas. This is a mixed all-weather gravel/pavement ride, but easily doable on most street motorcycles. The distances are short - total under 90 miles, the speeds are low and the traffic is light. New riders (careful turning/braking on the gravel!) or those on small displacement machines can ride this route just fine. If you stop to inspect a bridge or take pictures, please be a friendly Texan and move your bike to the edge of the road. Note: I did not have a cell phone signal for some of the time on this ride.

About the route: Very few of these roads are on the state highway map, and some may not be in your computer maps/GPS database. All are shown on county maps, and I’d recommend you look over the route on a county map prior to riding. I’m sorry it’s so convoluted to find these little bridges out in the country, but if it's easy it's not an adventure, is it? If you’re looking for high-speed sweepers, twisties or big miles, this isn’t your ride.
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Begin at the Frisbee golf course parking lot, North Lakes Park, N. Bonnie Brae St. (just south of Windsor St.) in Denton, Texas.

This park contains a relocated 19th century pony truss bridge from the far western edge of Denton County. It now sits on the eastern edge of the parking lot, over the creek. Its 19th century rivets were removed and it was converted to welded construction when it was “preserved”.

Head north on Bonnie Brae.
Cross US77 and continue on Bonnie Brae.
Bonnie Brae becomes Ganzer.

Just before the interstate, you’ll cross another pony truss, but this one in its original location.

Continue west on Ganzer under I35 to TX156.
Left on TX156 to Krum, Texas.
Right on TX1173.
Bear left on Plainview St.

Just outside of town on Plainview is a larger and very pretty pony truss bridge.

Left on Riek. (gravel)
Right on Donald. (gravel)

This little Pratt truss is on its last legs. It’s been shorn up from below, tied together with bailing wire, and now by-passed with a low water crossing.

Right on TX1173
Left on Freeman (gravel)

This is a modern steel beam bridge, but has a pretty wooden deck.

Right on Doyle (gravel)
Left on Freeman (gravel)
Right on TX455
Left on Forester (gravel)
Right on Waide (gravel)

This is a very large and pretty dual span pony truss bridge. It crosses the heavily wooded Clear Creek bottoms.

Left on Chisum (gravel)
Left on TX2450
Right on Gregory

This is a medium size pony truss bridge. County road crew markings on the pavement indicate it will be replaced very soon.

Gregory becomes Lois at right hand turn. (and later becomes gravel)

This is a small pony truss, which still has wood decking. Most of the bridges have had their original wood decks replaced with corrugated iron topped with concrete over the years.

Left on Beiz.

This is a small pony truss. It has undergone maintenance on several occasions and you can see a mixture of the original rivets, 1930’s bolts and modern welds on its truss.

Right on Metz.
Left on TX455 (warning – limited sight distance) Enter Sanger, Tx
Right on Keaton
Right on Duck Creek
Left on Sam Bass

This impressive through truss is over 150’ long, and still wears a wood deck. It is the largest of Denton County's 19th century bridges still carrying traffic.

Left on Rector
Right at I35 access road. Go down and cross under I35, then right back on Rector and a quick left on Cowling
Cowling becomes 5th St in Sanger.
Right on Willow St.
Right on Railroad St
Railroad becomes Rector (gravel)

On this small gravel road, you’ll find a fancy two lane modern concrete bridge. This bridge replaced a 19th century single lane through truss at this location, which has been moved to Denton and will be seen later on the ride. All of these iron truss bridges are scheduled to be replaced with bridges of this type in the next few years.

Left on Nicholson (gravel)

This is another large dual span pony truss.

Right on TX2164
Join US77 south in Denton. Becomes Elm St.
Turn left on US77 (Eagle St), then bear left on US77 (Dallas Drive)
Turn right on TX2181 (Teasley)

The first entrance to Guyer High School (on the left) accesses the relocated through truss bridge from just south of Sanger. It sits between the parking lot and the field house. The refurbishment was by-in-large done to original standards and gives a good idea of what these structures looked like originally.

Continue south on Teasley a short distance past the HS, then turn right on Old Alton Road

At the crossing sits the refurbished Alton through truss, now serving as an equestrian/hiking bridge.

Old Alton becomes Copper Canyon. Right on Old Alton
Right on Hilltop
Cross Country Club, becomes Brush Creek
Right on US377, then bear left on Bonnie Brae
Return to starting place.

Scoot safe,
Tom
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Old 12-27-2005, 08:19 PM   #2
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Re: Iron Bridges of Denton County

The bridge outside of Krum:


The dual span pony truss on Waide Rd:


The big through truss over Clear Creek:


The dual span pony truss on Nicholson Rd:


Tom
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Old 12-27-2005, 11:04 PM   #3
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Re: Iron Bridges of Denton County

Very cool! I just did a solo DS ride back from Austin to Huntsville last week and encountered a few of these types of bridges West of College Station.

That tears it! We're getting a bridges forum section! Look for it in the Special Interest section of the main forum page.
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Old 12-30-2005, 11:54 AM   #4
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Re: Iron Bridges of Denton County

Outstanding post!!
I'm going to ride this route as soon as I can.
Thanks,

Paul b.
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Old 02-02-2006, 11:15 PM   #5
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Re: Iron Bridges of Denton County

Tom, thanks for the post. I rode the route today on the Bonneville, and thought it a very nice ride. About half gravel, and some nice new sights along the way. The Clear Creek bridge is my favorite. The whole loop was about 80 miles, and took four hours with all the stops. Very enjoyable.
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Old 02-03-2006, 08:41 AM   #6
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Re: Iron Bridges of Denton County

Paul,
My Delorme Atlas doesn't have enough detail for me to plan out this route.
Did you use a map to lay your route out? If so, which one?
If you have a route sheet, I'll buy you a coffee if you'll share it. : )

Thanks

Paul b.
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Old 02-13-2006, 12:58 PM   #7
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Re: Iron Bridges of Denton County

Quote:
Originally Posted by old paul
I rode the route today...
Thanks for the feed-back. It all made sense to me when I wrote it up, but there's always a concern that you're sending others on a Snipe Hunt.

Tom
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Old 04-04-2010, 11:58 PM   #8
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Re: Iron Bridges of Denton County

Any chance these are still around? I'd like to get out and see about finding some in the next few weeks.
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Old 04-05-2010, 01:38 PM   #9
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Re: Iron Bridges of Denton County

The majority of these bridges have been removed in the last year and given to various cities in Denton county to use in parks and displays. One of the county commissioners that live down the road from me said they had to remove them before they became 100 years old or else they would become historic and the county would not be able to do anything with the bridges. Personally I preferred the old iron bridges.
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Old 10-13-2013, 02:07 PM   #10
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Re: Iron Bridges of Denton County

ColGoodnight,

I just reviewed your 2005 post on "Iron Bridges of Denton County". I am planning a ride with some KLR riders in the near future and found your post appropriate for my plans.

Obviously, it has been a few years since the writing of your information, but following on Googlemaps, still appears to be fairly accurate.

Have you re-riden this trip in recent past, or do you have any amendments to make to it?

We will be traveling up from Fort Worth and Dallas, and will take some side roads along the way. My intent is to stop at Mom's on Main in Aubrey for lunch and then hit the trail again. So, Possibly from Sanger, we would continue eastbound to Aubrey and then return to the trail after lunch. Any suggestions along the way would be very much appreciated.

KLR Cyclops.
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