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Bridges of Somervell County
September 23, 2006
By: John Watson

The first bridge over the Brazos River in Somervell County was built in 1908 on old Hwy S 10A.
This was before the Texas Highway Department came into existence, 1917, and all roads were built
by the counties and had different numbering systems.

The road going east out of Glen Rose was old Hwy S 25 which went by where Camp Tres Rios is
now and some distance east split, with one branch turning left and going north through Rainbow
and on to Granbury and the other turning right and going across the new bridge and on to Nemo.

In 1922 the Texas Highway Department started construction of highway 67 to the existing bridge
and continued on east in 1923, eventually coming into Cleburne.

The following story of the old highway 67 bridge was given to me by Buddie Lasater of the
Stephenville area office of the Texas Hwy Dept. The article was written several years ago by
Wallace Ewell.

“The Brazos River Bridge on U.S. Highway 67 in Somervell County was constructed in the year
1908. The bridge has a 15’ roadway and is about 677 ft. long. It consists of two steel truss spans
supported by concrete piers and fourteen timber approach spans on timber piling bents.

“Major repairs were made on the bridge in the years of 1934 and 1935 by Maintenance Project No.
M-2-N-5. New piling were driven for all bents of the approach spans and the ends of 80 steel eye-
bar members of the steel truss spans were reinforced by metal plates and arc welding.

“On January 15, 1945, an army convoy, traveling eastward from Brownwood, was crossing the
bridge between 12:30 AM and 1:00 AM. As an unloaded tank recovery vehicle reached the end of
the south truss span, the span collapsed to the bed of the river.

“According to army personnel who were removing the vehicle from the stream bed, there were four
men riding in the cab of the vehicle at the time of its crossing and only one of these escaped injury.
“Ordnance officials of the Army Quartermaster Depot in Fort Worth say that this model of tank
recovery vehicle weighs 71,900 pounds when stripped for shipping. The axle load rating for this
bridge is 5,000 pounds and there is a warning sign to this effect at the north end of the bridge.

“Since the failure of the south truss span of the Brazos River Bridge, local traffic on U.S. Highway
67 has been practically paralyzed. School buses are now traveling about 20 miles out of the way, a
great part of which is over unsurfaced county roads.

“Through traffic between Glen Rose and Cleburne must be routed northward via Granbury and
Cresson or southward via Brazos Point. The first named route increases the travel distance between
the two towns about 26 miles whereas the Brazos Point route increases the distance by 24 miles.

“Methods of putting this crossing back in service are being studied, but as yet no definite
recommendation can be made.”

While Buddie and I talked about the failure of the bridge I told him one story I had often heard about it.

The soldier driving the tank recovery vehicle stopped at the bridge to read the warning sign. His
sergeant came up and asked; “Soldier, why have you stopped?”

The soldier replied, “Sir, this vehicle is much heavier than the weight listed on the sign.”

The sergeant replied, “Soldier, never mind the sign. Your job is to drive this vehicle across. Now
go!” The soldier never made it across.

When I had finished this story, Buddie looked up, smiled, and said, “That sounds like the army.”

Before I left the Hwy Department office that day Buddy Lasater gave me several pictures the highway engineer
had taken at the time it happened.

At the time this happened my parents and I were living at Nemo and dad drove over to look at the
bridge. He parked in the driveway of a house several hundred yards from the bridge and walked the
rest of the way. I wanted to go but he made me stay in the car with mother. I remember there being
a lot of people there, probably a lot of them army personnel.

Work had started on the new highway 67 going east out of Glen Rose in 1939. After the war started
they were unable to get any steel for bridge construction so the work stopped. Work resumed after
the war and this section of Hwy 67 was opened in the latter part of 1947. Cleburne to Glen Rose
traffic had to detour by Brazos Point or Granbury for a little over two and a half years.

Some of the residents in eastern Somervell County still wanted a replacement bridge for the one that
had fallen in. Finally, in 1951 the highway department put in a low water crossing a few hundred
yards upstream from where the old bridge had fallen in. The concrete piers for the old bridge
remained and could be seen from the new bridge.

In 2002 the highway department went in and knocked down the old piers and built a new high water
bridge where the old one had been and moved the road back to where it was prior to 1945. They
then demolished the low water bridge and barricaded the road entering from each direction.

The Hwy 67 bridge, built in 1947, was not designed to handle all the large trucks that we have on
the highways today. If you travel Hwy 67 much between here and Glen Rose you probably cringed
each time you met one of the large trucks on that bridge.

In preparation for the four lane highway to be built from Cleburne to Glen Rose, the highway
department has just finished a new two lane bridge downstream from the old one. At the present
time all traffic has been diverted to the new bridge and the roadbed has been removed from the old
bridge. A new roadbed will be placed on the steel girders and the curbing moved out more making
the roadway two feet wider.

Before being put back in use the steel framework will be painted. There is a Girl Scout camp on the
river near the bridge and the Highway department has considered campfire green as the color for the bridge.

When completed in a few months the remodeled bridge with the steel framework will carry the
westbound traffic and the new bridge will carry the eastbound traffic. This should be a lot safer.

No word has been given yet as to when the four-lane section will be finished from Cleburne to Glen Rose.

(This story with more pictures is also in my book “People and Places of Somervell County, Texas.)

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