With a state as large as Texas, the transportation networks that connect our communities have played a vital role in the state's economy and settlement patterns. From the railroads to the ranch roads, the city streets to the interstates, these systems shape the Texas landscape. Natural crossings dictated where the earliest travelers established routes, and many modern roadways follow the same paths. As technology has evolved, so have the methods we use to cross streams, geological features, and even other transportation systems.
Metal Truss Bridges: Engineering Elegance
Metal truss bridges are a dwindling historic resource in Texas, although they were once common across the state. Pictured left is a bridge found near Clifton in Bosque County. Designated as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, the 1884 structure is one of few remaining Whipple trusses in the state.
Visit the Texas Department of Transportation's Historic Bridges page to find out more about truss bridges, including a visual glossary of all the parts of a typical truss structure.
Post-World War II Era: Innovations and Leadership
The Texas Historical Commission (THC) teamed up with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Historic Bridge Foundation (HBF) to share the stories of the evolving bridge technology from the decades following World War II. From 1945 to 1965, engineers in Texas worked with new materials and construction methods to develop innovative approaches to bridge design. Some bridges from this time period are the earliest examples of technology eventually adopted as national standards or that served as important steps toward a better understanding of steel and concrete.
More than 100 of these bridges have been determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, but many of them are not good candidates for long-term preservation. In an effort to streamline federal and state regulatory review, THC, TxDOT, and HBF sought public input about which are the most significant of the bridges and hosted open houses in July and August 2014.
We will add material about these bridges to our website in the coming months, but you can start learning now! Here are tables of the bridges determined eligible for listing in the National Register and a preliminary map that lets you explore them by location. They are broken into three groups in tiered levels of significance based on conversations between THC, TxDOT, and HBF. To find out more about what gives a bridge significance, the photo gallery below features good examples of the various technologies and construction methods introduced and explored during the Post-World War II era.
The feedback we received over the summer was in support of the tiered, grouping approach, which will inform TxDOT about preservation priorities for these bridges. Please let us know what you think.
Post-World War II Era: Photo Gallery
All photos courtesy TxDOT.
Click on any image to view the photo gallery.