Texas over Time: Waco Suspension Bridge

November 11, 2015 Amanda Norman

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Waco Suspension Bridge

  • Opened to the public on January 7, 1870, the 475-foot structure is one of downtown Waco’s iconic landmarks.
  • At the time of its completion, it was the longest single-span bridge west of the Mississippi.
  • The cables and steelwork were supplied by John Roebling Co., who also helped build the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City during that decade
  • As the only bridge over the Brazos River, it brought much publicity to Waco, helped local economic stimulation and served as a public bridge starting in 1889.
  • During times of high water, the bridge was used greatly for moving cattle herds.
  • In 1914, it went under total reconstruction including a brand new cable system; the roadway is now supported with steel and the towers were remodeled with stucco.
  • In July 1970, it became the first Waco site on the National Register of Historic Sites.


Roger N. Conger, “The Waco Suspension Bridge,” Texana, I (Summer 1963); Minute  Books of the Waco Bridge Company (MS., Waco-McLennan County Library).

“The City of Waco.” Suspension Bridge & Riverwalk, Parks & Recreation. City of Waco Municipal Information, n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

Smyrl, Vivian Elizabeth. “Waco Suspension Bridge.” Texas State Historical Association. TSHA, University of Texas, 15 June 2010. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

GIF and factoids by Haley Rodriguez, student archives assistant. Learn more about the history of the suspension bridge in our YouTube video and see these images in our Flickr album.


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