Day Trips

Several historic bridges around the state have been recycled as pedestrian promenades

Highway 29 Colorado River Bridge
Highway 29 Colorado River Bridge (Photo by Gerald E. McLeod)

Take a short walk on an old bridge. Several historic bridges around the state have been recycled as pedestrian promenades.

The old Highway 29 bridge over the Colorado River between Burnet and Llano offers a nice view of the upper end of Inks Lake. The steel girders of the bridge have been a landmark since 1937. When a new crossing over the waterway was built, the old bridge was turned into a 1,379-foot walkway. Parking lots at either end of the structure allow off-road access.

The Waco Suspension Bridge was the first bridge to cross the Brazos River. Since 1971 the bridge has connected a series of trails through the parks on the river banks. Thomas Griffith, who later supervised the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, developed his bridge-building skills in Waco. Ox-drawn wagons hauled the construction materials from Galveston.

When it opened in January 1870, the Waco bridge was the third longest suspension bridge in the world. The 474-foot span attracted the trail drivers headed north on the Chisholm Trail, even if they had to pay a toll. The bridge turned out to be a good deal for the city, because it helped turn the village into a major trading center for the area's agricultural goods.

In Bastrop, the old bridge over the Colorado River that was turned into a pedestrian walkway in 1993 was honored with a festival for many years. With the new roadway running parallel to the bridge, the 1,285-foot-long span was outfitted with benches and lights. Built in 1922, this was the second bridge at this location and once was a major crossing on the road between Houston and Austin.

The Faust Street Bridge in New Braunfels ranks among the prettiest pedestrian bridges in the state. One of the last wrought iron bridges built in Texas, the 640-foot structure served for 62 years until it was damaged by fire and taken out of service in 1979. Today it connects a series of pedestrian trails across the Guadalupe River.

In Richard Moya Park, south of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, are three of the six spans that were once part of the 1884 Congress Avenue Bridge in Downtown Austin. Officially called the Moore's Crossing Bridge, the 534-foot spans were placed here in 1922 and carried traffic until 1980. Now the bridge only carries joggers and bicyclists across Onion Creek as part of two miles of trails.

There is little particularly beautiful about the old Highway 183 Plum Creek bridge south of Luling. What is attractive about the bridge is its location across a scenic little creek under a pecan forest canopy. Built in 1931, it was replaced by a modern bridge that runs parallel to it. This is just a nice place to take a short walk on an old bridge.

967th in a series. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips" 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Inks Lake, Waco Suspension Bridge, Thomas Griffith, Faust Street Bridge, Richard Moya Park, Moore's Crossing Bridge, U.S. 183 Plum Creek Bridge

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