To Milton Autry Memory Lake
by Billie Mercer
It was just before services began at the First Baptist Church of Coleman that Mr. George Gould came to us and asked if we were aware of the “old iron bridge” west of town that was going to be taken down. I told him I had heard of it but was not aware of what was happening to it. So, this past week my husband David and I drove west on Highway 153 (the Glen Cove Highway) and turned south and drove on County Road 428 approximately a mile to the spot where they were working with bulldozers beside the old bridge preparing to build a new bridge. The bridge spans the area where some of Hords Creek water runs. The iron bridge is a beautiful small bridge and looks as if it would have many stories to tell. The sign just this side of the bridge reads, “Weight Limits gross 10,000 pounds, Axle or Tandem 7500 pounds.” While there, Glenn Turner an Engineer Inspector with the Texas Department of Transportation was very helpful in providing some information on the bridge. Turner said, “What the state calls it is a 70 ft. half-hip Truss bridge with two simple steel stringers with approach span. It is an approximate 110 ft. long” advised Turner.
Desiring additional information we remembered that Mrs. Larry (Elaine Witt) Robinson’s people lived in that area and she and her husband now have a home close by CR 428. So we asked her about the bridge. Robinson said she did not know the name of the bridge but she vividly remembers as the family drove over the bridge it was the loudest sounding bridge that one would ever hear. “You would almost think it was ready to fall down but it is still there and people are still driving over it. We had to cross it as there wasn’t a Highway 153 to Centennial at that time. We had to cut through and go over this bridge most of the time or we had to go over the dam at the lake.” Robinson also said, “Larry and I can hear the sounds from the bridge as people drive across it especially if we are out in the yard. It is an approximate mile from the highway to the bridge so it is an approximate mile from our home but we still hear the loud sounds. Continuing Robinson said, “I believe as you get close to turning back to the west I think that is where the old M. K. Witt Ranch was located. They owned the Ford Motor Company in Coleman. Dr. Rogers has it now. When Mr. Witt had the place my Grandad, Leon Goss, worked for him. Too, the old Bowen School was on the property to the left just before you get to the bridge.” Robinson added that, “As I said, my Grandad worked for Mr. M. K. Witt, and my mother married a Witt but they were not related.” The project will take approximately six months, or perhaps a shorter time, but it is scheduled to be completed in that time frame. A new bridge will be standing beside the old “iron” one. What will become of the old bridge”? We were pleased to learn that it will be kept in tact and be moved to Milton Autry Memory Lake where it will be placed in a strategic spot and become a pedestrian bridge. We wish to thank George Gould, Elaine Robinson and Glenn Turner for helping us get the story on a “piece of Coleman’s history”!
(Coleman County Chronicle and Democrat-Voice,
Coleman, Texas October 18, 2005.)
Old Iron Bridge West of Coleman - “Bowen Bridge”
by Billie Mercer
Bill Baker, whose wife, Billie Baker, held the position of Tax Assessor-Collector for Coleman County for many years, called the other day and said he had read our recent article about the “old” Iron Bridge west of Coleman on CR 428, which they are preparing to move to Milton Autry Memory Lake to become a pedestrian bridge. Plans are to move this once a new one is built. He said, “I believe you will find that that bridge is called the “Bowen Bridge.” There used to be a school close by called the Bowen School and that bridge was called the Bowen Bridge.”
We thanked him for calling and found this to be very interesting and we searched further in the book, “A History of Coleman and Its People.” Under the information that June Bowen had submitted on the Bowen Family, we found “J. F. “Bud” Bowen, following the death of his wife, moved to Coleman County in 1882. He brought his brood (five children) west of Coleman, settling on Hords Creek. He undertook sheep ranching at what was called The Bowen Crossing close to where the Bowen School stood.”
(Coleman County Chronicle and Democrat-Voice, Coleman, Texas October 25, 2005.)
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