‘Without our history, we would be nothing’: Group tells history of suspension bridge ahead of grand opening

WACO, Texas (KWTX) – The city of Waco is days away from reopening its iconic bridge.

The suspension bridge was the first of its kind in the Brazos, in the late 1900s it was the only bridge spanning the river, which spans 800 miles of central Texas.

in 1870, when the bridge first opened, it was a cattle drive for cowboys on horseback. Because before the bridge was the only way out of the Brazos.

This caused the cowboys to find rare places to roam along the river.

Just a few years after opening, Waco became the cotton and cattle capital of central Texas. This has shown promising economic benefits for years to come.

The bridge also connected East Waco to the rest of the city, giving communities access.

“I know a lot of African American communities started to grow in that area as well, it was very prosperous,” says Eric Swanson, executive director of Historic Waco.

By 1913, just 43 years after it was built, the Wacoans called for the bridge to be removed because it was an eyesore. Instead of destroying it, the bridge took its first turn.

Fast forward more than 100 years and the bridge is closed again in 2020.

“It is vital that we invest money, resources and time into these historic sites. Because they’re important and they’re a part of Waco’s history, and without our history we’d be nothing,” adds Swanson.

Swanson continues that its significance still stands out because it has withstood the test of time, including the 1953 hurricane that leveled much of the city.

“Having something that’s been around for a long time is really important to the city of Waco, especially because of what it meant economically then and what it means to the city now,” Swanson said.

When the bridge first opened, the energy in Waco was electric. And while the purpose of the bridge has changed, the celebration of its reopening 150 years later is expected to do the same.

On Friday night, the city kicks off the celebration with a concert and air show, where 150 drones create a magical display.

Saturday is when the real party begins at Indian Spring Park as they officially cut the ribbon and reopen the bridge.

Both events are free and open to the public, but seating near the stage is limited, so you’re encouraged to get there early or bring your own chairs.

Copyright 2023, KWTX. All rights reserved.

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