The same month that the wire suspension bridge at Bromide Springs was completed, Supt. Greene began his campaign to have a substantial bridge built in West Central Park (Flower Park). The old footbridge across Sulphur Creek (Travertine Creek) had been repaired every year since the government had segregated the reservation in 1902.
Six times the bridge had been repaired and was in worse shape than ever. The flood of June 1908 washed the telephone piers away that Supt. Swords had installed the previous year. As this footbridge was the only one across Sulphur Creek and was in emanate danger of collapsing with pedestrians on it, Greene pleaded for a permanent replacement.
Greene wrote the Secretary that there was never any scrimping of material in the attempts to shore up the bridge. But the weathering of the lumber, floods and thousands of visitors crossing it daily during the tourist season was making it all together untrustworthy. He further indicated that the bridge had three coats of white lead paint on it and that did not help prevent the water damage to the lumber.
The footbridge was the main travel route between the train depot to the Vendome and on to the Pavilion Springs. Greene advertised for bids to build a bridge that could support a mounted rider who was proceeding at a gallop.
Five bids were received ranging from $800 to $1642. Ardmore Foundry and Machine Co. submitted a bid of $450 to build a bridge 36 feet long and 12 feet wide across Sulphur Creek. The bridge would be iron with a wood floor instead of a concrete floor.
On August 10, 1908, Supt Greene wrote the Secretary a letter stating that a bid had been received from Moseley and Charlevile of Sulphur for the old hardware building that had been previously used as the Park Office. The bid in the amount of $127.75 was not only the high bid it was the only bid received for the building.
Greene felt the low amount of the bid was an insult and should be rejected. He then asked the Secretary that in case the bid of Ardmore Foundry and Machine Co. be rejected, he would like to use the stone from the old office to build a stone arch bridge across Sulphur Creek instead of one constructed of wood which would soon have to be replaced. Greene estimated that there was 60 cords of white limestone on the building.
The Secretary replied that he did not like the idea of a bridge with a wooden deck since there had been so many problems with the previous bridge and that he didn't believe that such a bridge could support a mounted rider at a full gallop. He therefore dismissed the Ardmore company's bid and suggested that Greene look closely at the other bidders specifications.
Missouri Valley Bridge Company specified that their bridge could hold 100 pounds live weight per square foot costing $730. The Canton Bridge Company specified that their bridge would hold 200 pounds per square foot costing $700. Both of these were too light to support a mounted rider. Liberenz & Robinson specified that their bridge would hold 2,000 pounds per square foot and would cost $800. This latter bridge would have an iron-railing handhold. Greene didn't especially like this, as the openings would likely let some child fall the 26 feet to the rocky creek bottom.
During all this time of gathering bids, H. V. Hinckley proposed a plan for a stone arch bridge. Hinckley was the same engineer that designed the wire suspension bridge at Bromide Springs. He was a retired civil engineer who lived in Sulphur.
Green felt that the stone arch bridge proposed by Hinckley would be permanent and always be an attractive feature of the Park. The cost though was considerably higher that the previously submitted bids. Hinckley estimated the cost of the stone arch bridge would be $3,600.
On September 22, 1908 Supt. Greene writes to Engineer Hinckley in Sulphur telling him that the Secretary has approved his design for a stone arch bridge over Sulphur Creek.
By November all the bridge building companies in surrounding states have been notified to submit bids for the construction of the stone arch bridge.
In November of 1908 Greene responds to The Manufacturer's Record of Baltimore (similar to today's Dodge Report) that bids are being accepted until 10:00 A. M. on November 23, 1908 for a rock arch bridge across Sulphur Creek; Arch to be 40 feet, roadway 12 feet, four circular towers at corners, eight electric lights and a total length of 88 feet including approaches.
Bids received for the bridge were from The Canton Bridge Company, Canton, Ohio, $7470; The Midland Bridge Company, Kansas City, Missouri, $6,360; Liberenz & Robinson, Sulphur, Okla., $3665.
Liberenz & Robinson were awarded the contract to build the new stone-arch footbridge across Travertine Creek. For the first time in records, Sulphur Creek is now referred to as Travertine Creek.
Engineer Hinckley is the onsite inspector while Greene makes several trips daily to the site to closely scrutinize the rock, quality of cement and proportions of concrete mixture. By the middle of December, the arch forms are being put in place and the stonework on this part of the bridge has begun.
Greene is getting ready for the near grand opening of the new footbridge. He orders four flags that measure five feet by eight feet for the festive occasion.
On January 2, 1909 Engineer Hinckley reports that the arch proper is 100% complete, the arch foundations are 100% complete, the wing walls are 60% complete, the wiring and conduit is 50% complete. Work on the spandrel walls is being held up waiting for the main concrete arch to properly harden.
On January 26, Greene sends an urgent wire to the Secretary asking for permission to change the design of the bridge. Greene, Engineer Hinckley, and the contractor all agreed that the bridge was out of proportion. The four rock towers were too short. Greene asked for $75 additional to be spent raising the four towers by two feet.
In his weekly report of January 25, Engineer Hinckley reports that the arch is completed as well as the spandrels. The wings are 98% finished and the towers are 95% done. The wiring for the electric lights is 50% completed.
By February 13th, Hinckley submits his final report to the Secretary. The brass nameplate has been installed as well as the lights and flagpoles. The report further states that "Lincoln Day exercises" were held on February 12th.
Hinckley finishes his final report this way: "To say that the people are pleased with the bridge could be a conservative statement of the publics sentiment. They are "De - lighted"."
The actual construction of the Lincoln Bridge took a very short time. The contract for the bridge was let the last week of November in 1908. The bridge was completed on the 11th and the grand opening occurred on Lincoln's Birthday of February 12th, 1909. The total cost of the bridge was $3,927.00.
The 12" x 12" brass plaque mounted on the southeast tower read [sic]:
U. S. A. Jas. Rudolph Garfield Secretary Interior.
Albert R. Greene Park Sup't.
Howard V. Hinckley Designer.
Liberenz & Robinson Builders.
In a report to the Secretary dated March 8, 1909, Supt. Greene described the opening of the new bridge in this manner: "On February 12, 1909, the opening of the bridge was celebrated by a concourse of the citizens of Sulphur and visitors to the Park. The exercises consisted of the singing of patriotic airs, reading of Lincoln's Gettysburg Oration by Comrade Harrod of the G. A. R.; and addresses by Mayor Kendall for the Confederate Veterans; Rev. Clark on the life and times of Lincoln; and the Superintendent on personal reminiscences of Lincoln as a neighbor and friend. In conclusion, Mrs. Lucy Bennett wearing a dress made of materials bought of Lincoln when a storekeeper in Salem, and patterned after the style of the period, climbed to the top of a turret and broke a wine bottle of medicinal water from the Park on the wall christening the structure "THE LINCOLN BRIDGE".
© 2006 Dennis Muncrief