Did you know that one of the most historic bridges in Texas is located in Salado and that it is over 130 years old?
This historic bridge, commonly referred to as the green bridge on Main Street, was built by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company of East Berlin, Connecticut. It was placed over Cowhouse Creek in Coryell County, Texas in 1889, and then later moved to Dodd's Creek on CR-133 west of Gatesville. In 1955, the bridge was declared functionally obsolete for vehicular traffic. The bridge was replaced but the historic lenticular pony truss bridge was not demolished. Instead, the Texas Department of Transportation decided to renovate and utilize the structure as a pedestrian bridge to be placed over Campbell’s Branch in Salado. It was moved to this location on July 29, 1997, as a part of the Salado Walking Path project.
In 1990 the Texas Historical Commission and the Texas Department of Transportation identified eight lenticular truss bridges surviving in Texas. Four of those bridges were located in San Antonio; the other four were on out-of-service roads. These bridges are recognized as historically significant engineering structures, and are the only remaining examples of this rare bridge type west of the Mississippi.
This 87-foot truss bridge represents an unusual truss type in the United States. The lenticular design features a curved top and bottom chord which forms a lens shape. This type of bridge combines an arch type bridge and suspension type bridge into a single design requiring less steel than more conventional bridges.
The patent, issued to William O. Douglas of Connecticut in 1878, was the only one given for a lenticular truss bridge in the United States. Most were constructed in the New England area and in New York state. Through the efforts of William Payson, a salesman for the Berlin Iron Bridge Company, Texas acquired at least a dozen truss bridges in the late 19th century.
It was an exciting day in Salado when this big green structure was brought down Main Street on an "oversize load" truck. A huge heavy-duty crane followed the truck. Those who had an interest in historic bridges and those who were just curious stood along the street to watch the unfolding of this historic event.
Cameras clicked as the crane lifted the bridge gently off the truck and carefully swung the structure toward its destination. Onlookers stood quietly as workers pushed and pulled and carefully guided the bridge to its final resting place over Campbell’s Branch, giving walkers a functional and beautiful place to walk.
The Salado Walking Path project was a joint effort between the Salado Chamber of Commerce and the Texas Department of Transportation. In 1998 the Waco District of TXDOT received the Environmental Achievement Award for the Dodd's Creek Bridge Preservation Project.
When approaching the bridge from the south, be aware of the troll who has made the green bridge his home. The “Troll and Billy Goat Gruff” sculpture, designed by local artist Troy Kelly, sits at the southernmost end of the bridge. The sculpture was placed there by the Salado Public Arts League in October 2005.
By Charlene Ochsner Carson
Page last updated: May 26, 2021