Old bridge stirs memories

Brandon Case
Short-cut bridge over the Cimarron.

When I was a young boy, my father would sometimes take a shortcut to Oklahoma City down a long, lonely road that led to an old, rickety, iron truss bridge that crossed over the Cimarron River.

We would beg him, especially my mother, not to go that way. I think he did it just to scare us.

On a trip to OKC at the end of 2019, I accidentally rediscovered the bridge, due to following Google directions on my wife’s phone. I had not seen the structure for over thirty years.

Located a few miles north and west of Kingfisher, the bridge has been abandoned today, fortunately, and “Road Closed” signs stand at each end, along with a pile of earth and ground up asphalt. A newer, safer bridge runs parallel to that rusty old one.

The sun was setting as we parked our car near one end of the bridge and hiked down an embankment to a two-track lane that led to the obsolete crossing. I stepped over the earthen barrier dirt and set my feet down on the bridge. As I gazed down its length, I noticed that the bridge was barely wide enough for one vehicle. That was why, I now recalled, we were so afraid of crossing it: what would happen if we met another car coming from the opposite direction? There would either be a collision or someone would have to back up, which seemed like an even scarier prospect than going forward across it.

As I walked thirty or forty feet on the bridge, with the brown waters of the Cimarron flowing below, I thought, “Is this bridge still strong enough to hold me up?” With that thought in mind, I turned around and headed back to the car.

On the way back to Pratt, I called my mom and told her that we had rediscovered the rickety bridge near Kingfisher, asking her if she still remembered it. Yes, she did. “It sounded like pieces were falling off it as you crossed it,” she commented.

Fortunately, we survived all of those trips across the Cimarron River.

Nonetheless, re-experiencing the bridge all these years later was like a gift from my father, who died in an Oklahoma City hospital three years ago on New Year’s Eve. I could almost see him smiling down upon me as I walked across that old iron truss.