The historic Rock Creek Bridge near Sapulpa, Oklahoma, was reopened to traffic Wednesday morning after a ceremony marking the occasion attended by the state’s lieutenant governor.
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb was there to cut the ceremonial ribbon to the bridge, then rode in an antique car across the historic span, along with several dozen other Sapulpa residents or Route 66 aficionados.
According to the Sapulpa Chamber of Commerce, a hanging gate in front of the bridge allows all vehicles under the height of 7 feet, 2 inches to cross it, and the weight limit is 4 tons. Alas, as well as heavy trucks, this prohibits tour buses, RVs and a few large four-wheel drive vehicles. But keeping heavy traffic off the bridge also will greatly extend its life span.
Last summer, the bridge received a $5,013 cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program for repairs and other preventative recommendations by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
The 1921 bridge was closed to traffic in March 2013 after engineers found problems with its support beams. The bridge was part of the original Ozark Trail and served Route 66 until 1952, when officials realigned the highway to the south. The Rock Creek Bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Now that the bridge is open again, I highly recommend you take that little side trip on the Ozark Trail alignment. The 3.5-mile stretch offers a glimpse of what driving Route 66 was like two generations ago.
UPDATE: Historian Jerry McClanahan, who was at the ceremony, had more details about the bridge’s repairs:
The bridge repairs have cost, to date, about $8000, helped by a $5013.00 matching grant. Sapulpa Tourism paid about $2000 for repairs, and helped pay for the extra signage on the barriers. The City donated the setting of concrete for the barriers, along with removal of the ugly concrete that was there, while the County donated two of the warning signs. The barriers cost $5000, but a portion of that was donated by a local steel manufacturer. This is an example of how different entities can come together to successfully save an endangered Route 66 landmark and tourist attraction.
(Images via the Sapulpa Chamber of Commerce)